When you're in Def Leppard and you've been playing festival concerts for 30 years, you notice some changes.
"I played the Reading Festival in England with my old band, Girl, in 1980," Def Lep guitarist Phil Collen said by phone during a break from rehearsal in Nashville, Tenn. "Back then, everyone had these Party Seven cans of beer in the crowd, and people would empty them out and fill them with (pee), then throw them at the stage no matter who was up there. It was horrible, really."
Def Leppard can expect a far more courteous welcome Tuesday at the Comcast Center, where the British band performs with current tour mates Poison and Cheap Trick.
In his cheerfully erudite London accent, Collen, 52, noted that life on the road today is not quite so rowdy for those veteran rockers who survived the '80s and '90s.
Archive for June 2009
Earlier this month, Def Leppard found itself in one of the most unlikely settings one could have ever considered for a group that came out of England in the late 1970s with a sound influenced by early '70s glammy rockers like T. Rex, David Essex and Thin Lizzy.
The band was at the CMT Music Awards performing alongside the likes of country stars Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland. The group was there because of its CMT Crossroads special with country sensation Taylor Swift, an event that earned Def Leppard and Swift nominations for two awards. Their performance of the Def Leppard song "Photograph" was nominated for CMT Performance Of The Year and for Wide Open Country Video Of The Year.
To say the least, Def Leppard was caught off guard by its nominations, according to guitarist Phil Collen.
"I think it's outrageous. I actually thought they had made a mistake," he said in interview about a week before the awards. "It's a really lovely, lovely surprise, actually."
The guy in the Cheap Trick T-shirt standing near the box office just prior to the commencement of Friday's Def Leppard show at Darien Lake did not look happy.
Matter of fact, he appeared to be crying. As it turns out, he'd driven from Cleveland to see his favorite band, the one whose name was emblazoned on his shirt. And, upon arrival, he faced the news that that band was not going to be playing.
Cheap Trick, as it turns out, was stuck on a grounded airplane in New York City, violent storms having prohibited takeoff. No refund, partial or otherwise, would be forthcoming.
Three-quarters of a full house turned out to see Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick on Friday. But this was a Def Leppard show in essence, though, and that band delivered the goods.
Def Leppard found itself in one of the most unlikely settings one could have ever considered for a group that came out of England in the late 1970s with a sound influenced by early '70s glammy rockers such as T. Rex, David Essex and Thin Lizzy.
The band was at the CMT Music Awards June 16, beside country stars Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland. The group was there because of "CMT Crossroads," a show from which their performance with country sensation Taylor Swift of the Def Leppard song "Photograph" was nominated for both CMT Performance of the Year and Wide Open Country Video of the Year.
To say the least, Def Leppard was caught off guard by its nominations, said guitarist Phil Collen. Even though the band lost out on the awards, it felt honored to be nominated.
Hamburg isn't exactly known as a heavy metal capital – yet. But after Friday, who knows?
Friday has been proclaimed Def Leppard Day in the Town of Hamburg, by virtue of a unanimous vote Monday by a bemused Town Board.
Two members of the famed band, Phil Collen and Rick Savage, will be on hand to sign autographs for an hour at 1 p.m. at Music Exchange, 4514 Camp Road. The band is scheduled to play at 7 p. m. Friday at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.
"It's a great opportunity to showcase the town," said Supervisor Steven J. Walters, who was 3 years old when the band formed in England in 1977.
At the end of Def Leppard's show Tuesday night, lead singer Joe Elliott offered the audience at the Susquehanna Bank Center a deal: "Don't forget about us, and we won't forget about you."
It was a moment of unusual vulnerability for a band whose most fervent pronouncements generally involve the word rock. But gratitude was the order of the night. Def Leppard, Poison, and Cheap Trick, who kicked off a seven-week tour in Camden, don't have much in common except paunches and power ballads. They were all just happy to be there.
In Def Leppard's case, remembering their fans meant focusing overwhelmingly on old material. "Nine Lives," the Tim McGraw co-penned single from last year's Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, was the only song released after 1993. Based on the polite stares and closed mouths that greeted the newish outlier, the lack of fresh material did not matter much.
It was more than 20 years ago that hair metal taught the kids to tease-and-spray, and since then high-heeled boys and their sticky metallic hooks have become fodder for love-lorn reality shows and slick Broadway musicals. And the answers to some of the pressing questions of our day – Is the Leppard still Def? Is Poison still nothin' but a good time? Is the Trick still Cheap? – will be answered at an amphitheater near you when the 40-date Def Leppard/Poison/Cheap Trick tour, which opened last night at near-sold out Susquehana Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey, rolls into a town near you. The answers are, in order: Yes, yes, and depends if you sit out on the lawn or pony up top-dollar for ringside seating.
First up was Cheap Trick, who have never really left the road since they went live at Budokan, and their bracing blend of Beatlesque hooks and high voltage riffs still rocks righteously. Cheap Trick rocked the early arrivals with a short, sharp set that mixed classics like "I Want You To Want Me" and "Dream Police" with super-fresh new material like "These Days" and "Sick Man Of Europe" from their just-released album, The Latest.
At the height of his group's worldwide fame in 1984, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen had a life-changing experience when he lost an arm in a car accident. Instead of letting that stop him, he found a way to continue his musical career. Seventeen years later, he and his then-soon-to-be wife, Lauren Monroe, founded the Raven Drum Foundation to share his journey and help others discover their own paths to recovery.
"I was kind of the inspiration for the thing, and Lauren had the language for some of the things I went through," he said in a recent phone call from Nashville as his band was gearing up for a summer-long tour with Poison and Cheap Trick that brings them to Moosic on Sunday. "This is our way of helping other people heal."
Joe Elliott is slightly confused by some fans' reaction to Def Leppard's performance of "Pour Some Sugar On Me" with country-music sensation Taylor Swift during Tuesday night's 2009 CMT Music Awards. While the performance was well received by the Nashville audience, post-show some critics described Swift's delivery of the song's first line as "breathless."
"What a lot of people don't know, because they're not supposed to, is, she was up for five awards; two of them with us, and three on her own," Def Leppard's frontman says. "She won three of them, and about a minute before we started that song, she had just picked up an award. So, after she accepted the award, she had to run down the stairs, run back to her dressing room, and change her clothes."
As Swift was sprinting back towards the stage, Elliott says the director started counting down to the band's live performance. "Literally, she's running up the ramp, trying to put her in-ear monitoring in and clip the pack to the back of her skirt, so she can try to sing this thing," says Elliott.
If you're in your thirties and watched as much music television as the next kid in the '80s, it shouldn't take long to settle into a time when music was fun and Def Leppard set the standard for cool.
Who cared how creepy it was that in the band's music video "Foolin,' " lead singer Joe Elliott was strapped to a neon triangle atop skyscrapers crowned with skulls? And who honestly knew what the band was getting at with the lyrics from "Pour Some Sugar On Me"?
What mattered was it was different, a new approach to the art of rock that would help steer the direction of music for years to come.
Performing at Donington Park on Sunday will bring back fond memories for rock giants Def Leppard.
The band, who headline Sunday's Download Festival bill, last played at the Leicestershire venue in 1986, their first major gig following drummer Rick Allen's car accident in which he lost an arm.
Recalls frontman Joe Elliott: "My overall memory of Donington is pretty much the major one which was introducing Rick at the end of the set. We kinda felt this uncontrollable urge to mention ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Rick Allen on the drums'.
"It was his first proper gig back after his accident so Donington is Rick Allen's rebirth place, if you like.
After collaborating with country stars, Def Leppard brings its hard-rocking repertoire to Blossom Music Center for June 25 concertSaturday, June 20th, 2009
Think Def Leppard and y'all think country music, right?
OK, not so much. Yet it didn't stop the arena-rocking British group from collaborating recently with the likes of Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift.
McGraw sang on "Nine Lives," the first single off Def Leppard latest album, 2008's "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge." And Swift hooked up with the band for a "CMT Crossroads" special last year (out now on DVD), yielding fresh takes on "Photograph" and other Def Leppard hits.
So how much have these chaps been influenced by country?
"In all honesty, not very much, but it doesn't mean we don't appreciate the good side of any kind of music," lead singer Joe Elliott said, reached by phone at home in Dublin.
Thatcherism, yuppies, mobile phones big enough to warrant a tow-bar on the back of your Jaguar, arriving home to the off-green neon glow of your Commodore, and Casio-standard synthesizer music on almost constant rotation on Radio One; welcome to 1983. Startling, then, that amongst all of this one of the best releases of the year would come from five poodle-haired, twenty-somethings from Sheffield.
At the time, few could have predicted the impact that Pyromania would have, not just in the future of Def Leppard but on the entire musical landscape of the time. Coming on the back of the competent but somewhat contrived shoals of On Through The Night and High 'n' Dry, Pyromania deserved to cement the mighty Leppard as a household name UK, just as it did in the US. It was an indefectible amalgam of fist pumping, caterwauling vocals, guitars fuzzed to within an inch of their lives and a truly gluttonous amount of power chords – it seemed as if Angus Young might enter the studio to reclaim them at any moment. As cliché as it may be to point it out, Pyromania really is the sound of a band at the peak of their powers. As the rock world drooled and limped its way into the mid-80s, it reeked of over-reliance on studio gimmicks – an era's worth of over-produced dirge followed, compressed and polished to death. Pyromania didn't so much buck as extirpate this trend.
Never under-estimate the enduring power of fantasy. However improbable it seems that a video simulation game in which the player thuds away at a scaled down, colour co-ordinated plastic axe could revitalise a musical genre traditionally more at ease with bat-chomping and over-sized inflatable women, there's no question the huge popularity of Guitar Hero has radically rejuvenated the fortunes of hard rock.
Last month AC/DC sold out two nights at the cavernous O2 Arena, every stripe of rock band – from Faith No More to Whitesnake – have reformed, and now here come Def Leppard, primped, peroxide-blonde and ready to headline this year's Download festival with their ridiculously infectious airbrushed glam-metal.
"Can you imagine a Keyboard Hero game?" chortles lead singer Joe Elliott, cocooned in the Dublin home that includes his own private studio, Joe's Garage. Although the band moved to Ireland en masse in the mid-1980s to take advantage of the country's artistic-friendly tax breaks, Elliott's accent remains as quintessentially Yorkshire as Pontefract cake, while he's as down to earth as a gravedigger. "It just doesn't have balls, does it? There's nothing that the Pet Shop Boys or the Human League can do that even compares with the Kinks, or the Who, or Maiden, or Zeppelin. Sometimes we laugh at those songs on Guitar Hero, but we know all the words when they come on. Kids are playing Barracuda by Heart. It's nuts!"