Rock'n'roll Leppard won't change their spots

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!"

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