Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.

Media Review - By Peter Makowski

"It's getting really hot in here, I think I'll take my shirt off. What do you think?"

Let's face it, Phil Collen is a total tart. Here we are in the upstairs rooms of The Spitz, a very trendy club located in the newly bohemianised East End of London, and Collen and co. are performing to an exclusive collection of friends, relatives and rock whores as if he's in a US megadome. Mind you, he was like this even before he joined Def Leppard, with Girl, and one can imagine that as a child he used to thrash away at a tennis racket while miming guitar to Kiss Alive. So shirt off and down to business it is, with an appropriately muscular version of Jimi Hendrix's Fire. Collen's solo project Man-Raze has arrived.

It's been a year since former Girl playmate Simon Laffy (bass) and ex-Sex Pistol Paul Cook (drums) got together with Collen (guitars/vocals) and formed this almost-supergroup. Why Man-Raze? Why not? (Thankfully they didn't settle with the original choice Fay Raze.). Normally one is suspicious of these type of bands, and approaches them with the same trepidation as you would an immensely successful musician who suddenly decides to become an actor: is this just a rich kid's hobby? A bauble to pass the time in between recording probably multi-platinum-selling albums? In this case it's doubtful. Judging by this gig - which, it must be emphasised, is a showcase - Man-Raze have spent enough time to make sure they've got their chops together. The songs are tight and dynamic and easily digestible.

Another apprehension with this type of project is that they can be outlets for something left-field and self-indulgent, outside the remit of their 'day job'. Man-Raze are kind of nu metal with the dynamics of early Police. They have a full sound, and Collen is a competent vocalist.

Playing only one cover version this gig could have been hard work, but the trio have a commercial sensibility, as demonstrated by their new single, Skin Crawl, which could be described as poppy Nirvana. One can see why John Lydon espouses the virtues of Paul Cook and has even called him "the best fucking drummer in the world". That's stretching it, obviously, but there's no doubt that he and Laffy are a tough and tight rhythm section - a rock'n'roll Sly and Robbie.

Chest bared and muscles pumped, Collen looks totally comfortable in this cramped and (for him) by now very unfamiliar setting. His playing is tight and economical, and although he was undoubtedly the frontman the music had enough space and scope to allow all three band members to assert their own identities.

They kick off with the sprightly Connected, and other songs include Every Second Of Every Day, Running Me Up, the reggae vibes of Low, and a cheeky little number called It's Entertainment that has more than a tip of a hat in the direction of The Libertines.

"Thanks for coming down and making us feel welcome," a genuinely grateful and sweaty Collen says at the end of the show. A Pistols, Leppard or Girl number would have been nice, but that's probably what they're all trying to get away from.

"We're not that desperate...yet," Cook quips.

Over in half an hour it's a promising debut and, judging by the response, the band definitely has legs. However, proper judgement is reserved until I see them do a full show.

By Peter Makowski @ Classic Rock 2005.