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Thursday, 20th February 2003

Sheffield, England - Media Reviews

Media Review - Lean Leppard Roll Back The Years By David Dubb

INFLATION, eh? - For their first show Def Lepard were paid a fiver by a grateful school teacher. Last night it would have cost you five times as much to see an older, wiser, in some cases, fitter bunch of blokes at work and play at Sheffield Arena. We are talking around about a pound per year that Joe Elliott and his gang have been burning up electricity across the globe.

A lot longer than the Pop Idol wannabes who've been forced to pull their show at the same venue. Maybe they needed a Rocket up 'em, or a Pour Some Sugar, or an Animal in their locker. The decidedly dated million-selling anthems still did the trick for the 10,000 or so keeping the home seat warm for the city's most famous rock sons this time around. Many of them familiar. "I went to school with some of you. I got beaten up by some of you," quipped Joe, midway through a setlist which straddled decades and tax brackets. "Thanks for having us back. We can only do it as long as people want to hear it."

Nil frills accompanied this leaner Leppard. No screens or fancy backdrop, but uber-healthy guitarist Phil Collen lost his shirt as always, prompting fellas half his age to reconsider that post-gig KFC. Go loud, stay proud, seemed to be the thinking here. Few would change that or them, though it was sad to see empty seats nonetheless. Had the promoter kept ticket prices pegged, had UK radio not fallen out of love with them, maybe the lads could have added this to the 'sold out' list.

But hey, who's keeping count? As the title of their new single confidently suggests - Long Long Way To Go.

By The Sheffield Star 2003.

Media Review - By Bailey Bros

It's a cold February night in Sheffield but there's a warm glow on the faces of the vast crowd descending on the Hallam FM Arena. For the faithful it's an opportunity to salute the band that was originally forged together in the Steel City and although they have had to remould the cast they still are probably Sheffield's most popular export. Mark Zack, a Leppard fan from California gave £5,000 to charity for the privilege of playing one song, Pour Some Sugar on me, with the guys at the sound check but will the American get value for his dollar?

Well it all went down during the sound check and Joe Elliott immediately tried to make Mark feel at ease. "Well he's got the right tags on (clothes) He's looking good, nice strap and guitar, nice leather shirt"

Mark Zack was a little nervous to say the least. "This is the ultimate dream, such a feeling, the adrenaline, the passion, everything you ever dreamed of". Zack took centre stage and Joe shared the Mic with Viv, letting Mark take lead vocals as they went through a once in a life time version of Pour Some Sugar On Me After it was over Mark Zack said, "After the song I told the guys they have made my life". (Well could have been worse he could have said, "You have laid my wife!") A great ending to a great story and one Mark Zack will be telling the grand kids in years to come. Def Leppard make one fan happy but there's 10,000 or more hoping to leave the venue buzzing. Let's see if they do?

The lights go down and immediately on cue a row of white lights are flashing in a strobe like fashion on to the crowd who applaud with anticipation of what's in store. Let It Go is the opener as the band take their positions on stage like an American Football team, organised, synchronised and ready for touch down. Joe Elliott, dressed in all black lifts the white Mic stand in the air horizontally as though he is donning the flag of honour.

The fans eye view of the stage is far left, Vivian Campbell, in a blue sweatshirt with white sleeves, (sort of Arsenal FC but in a sky blue not red centre) Rick Savage, well it's hard to make out under the flashing lights, it's sort of a denim bleached kind of camouflage look, Rick Allen at the back on the drums in a dark navy or black plain T shirt, long knee length shorts, Joe centre stage and Phil Collen far right black vest grey bottoms (very Top Man).

Up next with out a pause for breath is Rock Rock 'Til Ya Drop. The stage set is basic, just a row of Marshalls, a drum riser and a huge back drop with the letter X in white on it. This song seems much faster than the album version, the band are very tight, as you would expect as they are nearly half way through the UK tour. With so much back catalogue to get through you would have thought they would concentrate on their own songs so their version of The Sweets Action is a surprise third choice in the set.

Joe finally greets his adoring fans with "It's great to be back here again" and then lifts the crowd even further by the very mention of going back to 1983 and the Pyromania album. There's a nice ambience with green lights coming from behind the Marshall stacks but sometimes during the show the strobe lighting (or that effect) racing from left to right just made it difficult to see the band and did little in terms of relation to the music or the band.

Joe now briefly explains that they did come here last year and played four songs on what was a pretty diverse bill. This time they are back to tell us about the new album, X and the first song from their recent release is You're So Beautiful which was excellently performed by the band. At this point we have to mention the mix because it was totally over the top drums and guitars. Joe was struggling from the off to be heard above it and with an electronic aided kit there's no need for so much velocity. The band and Joe got on with the job in hand and Hysteria was superb with much more inter play between band members. Savage, leg astride the drum riser was very visual and active on stage.

Viv, Sav and Rick Allen are part of a formidable rhythm section but before you could say Stop The War! Savage was centre stage with Elliott and the lighting is perfect. The crowd, as though on cue are taking pictures in unison. Flash bulbs flashing around the Arena faster than an air assault on Baghdad. A nice sea of purple lighting illuminates Allen's drum kit and then the spot light is on Phil Collen as he performs the simple but effect guitar solo. He has taken the majority of the guitar solos and played exceptionally well tonight. The ending to the song was a nice touch finishing with a harmonic from Collen.

Joe, keen to take advantage of a more positive audience response takes a shot at promoting the forthcoming single out in a few weeks. "We are going to keep it down a while longer as we have just shot the video to our new single which is out in a few weeks"

Long Long Way To Go, a clean guitar sound, Rick Allen just riding the hi hat, the vocals ring out in the auditorium and the quality of the backing vocals is outstanding. (As it was with hysteria) That's why we picked up on the mix because this is what the fans pay to hear, a ticket and a pint and there's not much change left from £30. On this occasion the fans are either new to the song or transfixed by the quality and arrangement because a sea of cigarette lighters or hand waves would be appropriate crowd interaction at this point.

Slang went down better than expected but as a famous football commentator once said, "It's a game of 2 halves". This was a show of 2 halves and it's ironic that as the stools and acoustic guitars came out to add new colour and dimension to the audio and visual show, it was also time for the best piece of Joe and the crowd banter of the night. Elliott, a staunch Sheffield United fan is singled out by a fan wearing Sheffield Wednesday FC merchandise. Joe finally takes up the challenge:

"You can put that down for a start" The Owls fan, obviously quick to grab their 2 seconds of fame wants everyone to see the blue and white attire. Joe unleashes what would have been a technical knock out in boxing with "You ain't got a lot to cheer about this year darlin'" referring to the fact that his United team are currently riding high in the league and Wednesday are on the verge of relegation. It all adds to the occasion, as this stuff is an every day occurrence in the Sheffield pubs.

Joe then explains that it all started for him 24 years ago and that after seeing Marc Bolan (T Rex) on Top of The Pops (British pop music show) he knew what he wanted to do. After requesting every one joins in on he chorus they break into Two Steps Behind, a song from the album Retroactive, one of the best songs on the night. Once again, a clean sound and great vocals all round. It's a testament to their ability as songwriters and performers. Seeing Joe with a guitar on is nothing new these days but he's a very good player and time keeper, many used to say Leppard live was all sampled vocal arrangements, a myth they have certainly put to bed. From the depths of a blackened stage a sequencer fires out the intro to Women. Talk about over the top loud, by the time Rick Allan came in you had no chance of hearing what Elliot was singing. Thankfully most would know the songs as this was where the show went into over drive. Rocket, Armageddon It, Photograph, Animal - the songs that catapulted Leppard into a stadium band are bouncing off the walls in Sheffield like a Squash ball. The atmosphere is fever pitch and Leppard are back with a bang.

Two other points worth mentioning are the arrival of Frank Noon on to the drum riser. (The original Leppard drummer who played on the infamous EP) He seemed to be the official photographer tonight and takes a shot of Leppard with all their adoring fans, arms aloft. No doubt it will be appearing in many magazines in the days and years ahead and as if to say in 2003 Def Leppard or still attracting major audiences.

However, after a repeat of the honorary Yorshireman lines, Joe introduces Rick Allen to the audience. To say he got a great response would be an understatement. Allen got everything he deserved a standing ovation that shocked him and the whole band with Elliott having to pause at the mic to allow it to continue. As someone who was at Rick Allen's home shortly after the accident that took his arm off, we were also joining in with the applause. The way this guy has adapted his playing is nothing short of genius and it was one of the highlights of the show to see him perform.

Eventually the cigarette lighter brigade found the eternal flame and joined in when Leppard performed When Love And Hate Collide Joe said his thank you bit with honesty and the band were obviously overwhelmed by the turn out and continued support. His final introduction went something like: "That's about it, one more thing I wanna ask you - do you wanna get rocked?" Let's Get Rocked brought the roof down and after the final bow Elliott says, "'Til the next time and there will be a next time, don't forget us, 'cause we won't forget you".

By Bailey Bros 2003.

Media Review - Popi makes a 6,700 mile round trip to see her heroes play Arena By Graham Walker

Def Leppard fan Popi Cassevetis (in Pic 1 above) rocked her idols when she told them of her 6,700-mile round trip just to see their Sheffield concert. She couldn't get a ticket for their sold out upcoming shows in her native New York.

So the lifelong fan booked two days off work, jumped on a plane and jetted across the Atlantic to catch the city's rock legends in their own back yard. Her Sheffield cousin, Cathy Kallis, got her a ticket for the band's historical homecoming concert at the Hallam FM Arena.

Popi, aged 40, will complete her own incredible journey on Sunday with a flight from Manchester to Newark, so she can be back at her customer care job first thing Monday. It has cost her $460 but she revealed how she has spent thousands of dollars travelling all over the USA to see Def Leppard.

She even flew to Sheffield last year to track down the band's old haunts. But she had never met them - not until The Star found out and fixed up a meeting with her heroes last night. Popi chatted, posed for photos and got signings from band members Rick Allen, Rick Savage and Phil Collen

She said: "This has been unbelievable".

"I was so excited and in such a state I couldn't even remember their names.

"I know some people will think I'm crazy. The women at passport control certainly did." Sheffield relative Cathy, of Bradway, said: "Popi's such a huge fan and it was great to get her a ticket.

"But all her dreams came true when she got to meet the band - thanks to The Star."

Star competition winner Denise Godfrey, 30, and step-daughter Michelle, 16, of Sharrad Road, Sheffield, also got to meet and greet Def Leppard backstage.

By Sheffield Star 2003.

Media Review - Andy B

I was rather surprised and a little disappointed to see that this particular date of the Def Leppard World Tour was not sold out. By all accounts, the other dates over here had sold out, although it's fair to mention that the venues were smaller, being Theatres and Civic halls etc, but this was Sheffield, the Lep's hometown. And there were empty seats. Well, for the people who may have thought about going and didn't bother. I have to tell you that you missed one hell of a show.

While it's true that the band, and Joe Elliott in particular, always seem to get a little extra kick out of playing this venue, the show was a testament to their endurance and a perfect example of an old band (twenty-four years now) still enjoying what they do, and not just going through the motions.

Right from the kick off at 9pm there were broad grins on the faces of Elliott, Collen, Campbell, Allen and Savage as they tore through 'Let it Go' a fairly old song from the High 'N' Dry album. Then they breezed through, 'Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)', 'Action', 'Foolin' and 'Make Love Like a Man'. before we got 'You're So Beautiful' the first of four new songs from the latest album X. And the grins remained throughout.

Elliott commented on playing at home: "It's great to see so many friendly faces, went to school with ya, got beaten up by some of ya, bastards!," before the band discarded electrics, mounted stools and did an acoustic version of 'Two Steps Behind' which acted as a sort of half-time breather before they set off again with 'Now'. Personally I think the show lost its momentum for a short while here, but all energies were firing again when they went into 'Women' followed by 'Rocket' which was brilliantly extended with an atmospheric and powerful instrumental section led by Allen and Savage.

The second half was certainly the 'Greatest Hits' section (and even if you are not a big Leppard fan, chances are you would have known most of the set anyway), with these two songs being followed by 'Armageddon It', 'Photograph', 'Animal', 'Pour Some Sugar On Me' and 'Rock of Ages' as the last song of the main set. Quickly coming back on stage, they finished off with 'When Love & Hate Collide' and 'Let's Get Rocked'.

To my mind, this show was probably the best I have ever seen them play, and I've seen them a few times. They were tight, they enjoyed it, the fans enjoyed it, and the atmosphere was excellent. And the funny thing was, although it wasn't a capacity crowd, it sounded bigger than one. What a pity if you missed it.

By Power Play 2003

Media Review - Dave Attrill

The third time I've seen this lot live is the first since the birth of Metalliville and so it gives me great pleasure to finally review a performance of this city's greatest export at work, and I mean greater than steel, even.

Of the two opening acts, the first is a very welcome surprise. Ricky Warwick was seen here a decade back fronting Brit rock faves, The Almighty when they were on tour with Iron Maiden. Tonight, the man goes it alone, walking in and strapping on his acoustic for what fellow Ulsterman, Leppard's Vivian Campbell introduces as 'totally different' material. Is it, my trousers! This stuff could have as easily been written for 'Soul Destruction' twelve years back but sounds bloody good though and that's what counts.

UK newcomers The Darkness bring with them a brave attempt to topple the headliners, belting out a lethal brand of retro saturated hard rock with front-man Justin committing that said to be most heinous of crimes in this day and age, of wearing a stripy open-chested catsuit on stage. They can get away comfortably with it with material of their quality, and 'Get Your Hands Off My Woman' looks set to thrive as their anthem.

Def Leppard usually save any pre-83 material for the end of their set but 'Let It Go', the sole Willis-era number opens tonight's performance. Following it up is the dual attack of 'Rock! Rock! ('til you drop)' and 'Action' which had kicked off proceedings on the band's two previous tours of the isle. For the first hour of the show, 'Hysteria' is the only tune aired from album of said name, but 'Women', 'Pour Some Sugar On Me', 'Rocket', 'Armageddon It' and least we forget 'Animal' come in almost complete succession in the last forty minutes of the two-hour slot. 'Pyromania' classics 'Photograph', 'Rock Of Ages' and 'Foolin' can not and will never be omitted from any Def Leppard show nor will Make Love like A Man', 'Slang', and 'Promises' by the looks of things.

A nice little handful from the excellent new 'X' album finds its space with 'Now', 'Four Letter Word', 'Long Long Way To Go' and 'You're So Beautiful' making themselves feel a lot more welcome on stage than on disc. Tonight, we witness a band who after twenty-five years, play more than solidly enough to stick two fingers at the rules about age, in the rock n' roll industry. Just before the end of the set, a very special guest in the shape of original Leps sticksman Frank Noon borrows the place behind the kit, brandishing a camera as Joe Elliott acquaints us with their old friend's current career. then asks us 'one last question DO YOU WANNA GET ROCKED???!!!" Well, what do you think?

By Metalville 2003.

Media Review - By Dave Simpson

In the mid-1990s, heavy metal seemed terminally unfashionable, swept away by rave culture and grunge. No band suffered more than Def Leppard. Once able to shift 50m albums, Sheffield's finest were reduced, at their lowest point (around 1996's Slang album), to changing their winning formula to include electronics, more modern beats and - shock, horror - short hair. Now, thanks to nu-metal and the Osbournes, old metal can once again strut its stuff in public without ridicule, and the Lepp have returned with leather trousers, endless guitar solos and hairstyles beyond most city barbers. Bassist Rick Savage even models a poodle perm.

The intro tape of 'We Will Rock You' is no idle boast: Def Leppard's masterstroke is returning to the blistering hard rock that made their name. Their first four numbers are so heavy that it feels like an enormous metal anvil has fallen through the stadium.

Anyone can rock - if not quite this hard - but the best heavy metal should also have a certain Spinal Tapness, and here the Lepp have an unbeatable trump card. Following drummer Rick Allen's loss of an arm in a 1984 car crash, they are the only band ever to boast three-and-three-quarters of their classic line-up. However, while Allen presumably inspired Tap's spontaneously combusting sticksmen, his big-hearted percussion gives the crowd a true modern-day hero.

Vocalist Joe Elliott - perhaps the only Sheffield United fan resident in Los Angeles - entertains the home crowd with believable tales of being beaten up as a youth for wearing pointy boots, which may explain the higher reaches of his gravelly wail. He also manages to look uncomfortable ("Get that scarf down!") during the acoustic ballad section.

Impressively, the band leave it almost an hour to wheel out the heavy artillery: hits such as Pyromania and 'Hysteria', which ruled the charts almost two decades ago. Songs from the recent album, entitled X, hold up well. However, while trends have come and gone, Def Leppard's big hits - 'Animal', 'Armageddon It', 'Rock of Ages', 'Let's Get Rocked' and other songs with "rock" in the title - still sound bigger than anybody else's. The stage is too far away to be certain, but it seems very likely that their amps actually go up to 12.

By The Guardian 2003.


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