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Monday, 29th July 2002

New York, NY - Media Reviews

Def Leppard Turn It Up to X By David Fricke

New York club gig a sort of homecoming for arena-rock vets. The words "intimate club gig" and "arena-rock band" should not go together. The whole point of enormo-dome music is size, of riffs and choruses pumped up to the concrete arches. But long before they became the 1980s kings of year-long coliseum tours and multi-platinum heavy melody - over 24 million copies sold of 1983's Pyromania and 1987's Hysteria combined - Def Leppard played in rooms a lot smaller than New York City's Irving Plaza. In the late 1970s, when they were the prize upstarts of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the Leppards earned their crust and stripes in tiny pubs and working men's clubs, rattling cash registers and shattering pint glasses with their precocious mix of twin Thin Lizzy-style guitars and Queen-like vocal shine. So last night's show - the Leppards' first Manhattan appearance in ten years, singer Joe Elliott noted from the stage - was almost like coming home. It was also part of coming back: The band would release a new studio album today - X (pronounced like the letter or the number ten, your choice) - and it arrives in a weird pocket of time. The five Leppards, now mostly in their forties, are considered too young to be equals of the Who or the Rolling Stones, yet too long in the jowl and too associated with the dreaded "power ballad" to rate nu-metal respect.

But what the Leppards have in abundance are hits, all scored and executed with a visceral cleansing joy. Elliott, bassist Rick Savage, drummer Rick Allen and guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell clearly love their work, and they advertised it from first song ("Let's Get Rocked") to encore ("Rock! Rock! [Till You Drop]"). It was a gas to hear the classicism at the heart of the Leppards' sound, like the Jeff Beck-like curls and screams in Collen's acrobatic leads. It was fascinating, too, to hear how much of Leppard's pop savvy - the tight candied four-part vocal harmonies, the R&B-dance inflections of "Rocket" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me" - has turned up on Britney Spears and 'N Sync records. Bonus irony: The Leppards, when they started, were a genuine boy band. Their average age was seventeen when they made their debut EP.

The Leppards did not overdo the promo at Irving Plaza, playing only one song from the new album, "Now," a classy variant on modern-rock ballladry. Instead, they simply reeled off reason after reason ("Photograph," "Armageddon It," "Animal," "Foolin'") why they are still a great night out. A band that has, in its twenty-four years, literally defied loss of life (the late guitarist Steve Clark) and limb (Allen's left arm), the Leppards are cheerful survivors. And tonight, they made a joyful noise in the perfect confined space.

By RollingStone 2002.

A Hot Spot for Def Fans By Dan Aquilante

Despite their 10-year hiatus from any Manhattan stage, Def Leppard's showcase concert at Irving Plaza Monday demonstrated how tight a grip these pop metallurgists still have on their fans.

Although the 90-minute concert was to celebrate the band's new record, "X," released earlier this week, the performance was a fan-appreciation event that was almost totally gleaned from the Leppard catalogue.

In fact, the quintet from Sheffield, England, only polished one song, "Now," from "X." Too bad, considering it's a pretty good disc. Led by singer Joe Elliott, the band was cautious with the program, culling a set of greatest hits concentrating on tunes from Leppard's big records like "Hysteria," "Pyromania" and "Adrenalize."

Metal music is usually the realm of macho, but at this show, it was a 50/50 guys 'n' gals mix.

The crowd stood belly-to-back, shoulder-to-shoulder in the packed and steamy club and sang every word that Elliott screamed in his Mod-Rod rasp.

The fans went wild when the guys stuttered their way through a-fa-fa-"Foolin'."

It was here that drummer Rick Allen (who lost his left arm in an auto accident in '85) proved his worth, with outstanding turbo-drive percussions that refitted the tune with a proper metal treatment.

Even though this wasn't a stadium show, the Leppard boys were obviously nervous.

But soon the guitar interchanges between Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell had the necessary crunch, and the harmonies, while shaky for Carnegie Hall, carried the perfect degree of rowdy passion for this little rock club gig.

The band will return to New York later this year - maybe then they'll bring a few new tunes.

By New York Post 2002.

Def Leppard @ Irving Plaza By David J. C.

Some bands get old and fade away while others just get better. In Def Leppard's case, the band has gotten older and better but their love affair with the public has faded. However, that's all about to change, with the release of the band's tenth album, X. Def Leppard returns to the commercial rock roots of its late eighties masterpiece Hysteria, and on the eve of the album's release, they conquered Manhattan in a power-packed, rare club appearance at Irving Plaza. Wasting no time, the band of Brits took the stage with the one-two punch of Let's Get Rocked and Promises. "This is the first gig we've played in Manhattan in 10 years", lead singer Joe Elliott shouted. "Here's something we played the last time," he continued as Def ripped into Foolin'. The band never sounded as strong in a live setting.

The sold out crowd was packed with record industry people and long time die-hard fans, many who paid up to $200 a ticket, traveling far distances to experience Leppard's comeback kick-off.

Breaking out the Hysteria hits (Hysteria, Animal, Love Bites), the band sounded tight and performed as if they were in a jam-packed arena. Even their sweet background harmonies were picture perfect. They seemed focused and driven, like a prizefighter who has been waiting too long for a title. An introduction and performance of their new single, Now, proved the band is still passionate about their music. At one point, Elliott looked up to the VIP section and the jaded industry suits, and nodded as if to say, "Yeah, we still matter!" The house lights were raised for Photograph, causing the audience to explode. Leppard laid it on thick; first Rocket, then Armageddon It, followed by the smash Pour Some Sugar on Me, leading up to the climatic Rock of Ages. Elliott announced, "You are certainly the 'City That Never Sleeps!' There are fans out there in the crowd who have been with us for 20-odd years, you know who you are! New fans, welcome aboard, you're in for a fun ride!"

The band returned for an encore of Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop), leaving the crowd ecstatic. "Don't forget us, we won't forget you," Elliott shouted as he exited the stage. He shouldn't have any worries, because this performance will go down in history.

By David J. C @ 2002.


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