04 December 2018
The third show on Leppard’s 2019 UK and Ireland tour sees Sheffield’s finest arrive in Cardiff on a date that had sold out months ago. Such was the demand for access to the gig tickets were being sold outside the venue for upwards of £200 a ticket!
The support was the ever excellent Cheap Trick, who delivered a blistering set with the likes of “Hello There”, “You Got It Going On”, and “Big Eyes”. The place was rocking out in style. I know they did quite a few songs that had everybody in the zone, but when they played “I Want You To Want Me” that hit the sweet spot.
Cheap Trick showed Cardiff that they still had their rock mojo, and no one was left in any doubt that they did indeed. What a great performance and a fantastic way to start the night.
With a suitably warmed up crowd after the rather impressive Cheap Trick had delivered a well-honed performance it was on with the main act.
Def Leppard promised to play the classic Hysteria album from 1987 in its entirety! And so it was straight into the opener “Woman”. It soon becomes apparent that the production was out of this world with a impressive light show, huge rear image screens and a massive sound. Everything about it announced a huge band and a huge budget using every technical gadget to hand. This was a show!
As Joe Elliot introduces the second song “Rocket”, the crowd goes ballistic with the appearance of drummer Rick Allen doing his solid drum beat as the backing tapes blast out the exact rocket sounds which first appeared on the album all those years ago. Bare chested and tartan trousered, Phil Collen peeled off meaty riffs and it really is a sight to behold. With bassist Rick Savage proving to be the vital cog in the Leppard wheel, he laid down a solid bass and proved he should not be underestimated.
Then we had “Animal”, “Pour some sugar on me”, and “Love bites”. Staple songs in the bands live set for many a year and always crowd favourites, but tonight they were outclassed by the lesser played ”Run Riot”, “Excitable”, “Don’t shoot shotgun”, and the best song from the album, and in fact the whole live performance, “ Gods Of War”. With its poignant lyrics, harrowing video imagery of the horrors of war and how pointless it really is.
Def Leppard is a band with incredible highs and tragic lows play and paid the ultimate respect to original guitarist Steve Clarke with the screens lighting up his image alongside a beautiful guitar solo playing in the background. A lovely salute from Rick Savage and a touching moment from the band members. It was an emotional moment and couldn’t fail to affect even the most hardened person present, which hit home with the packed crowd roaring with approval and clapping with respect.
As the main part of the set winds down with” Excitable” and “Love and affection” it was apparent to me that Rick Allen has not stopped smiling through the first half of the show and is truly loving the gig.
People were left guessing as to what the extra songs were going to be that completed the show. First up was the Tongue in cheek “Make Love Like A Man” from Adrenalize with Vivian Campbell taking centre stage showing off his skilled guitar work. Slowing things down a touch came the note perfect ”When Love And Hate Collide” and had the crowd yelling for more. Def Leppard duly responded with a triple blast of “Lets Get Rocked”, “Rock Of Ages”, and ”Photograph”. How many bands can boast a repertoire that strong? Such a professional well executed performance shows years of experience, with not a foot out of place and everything running like its on WD40.
The show left me with the opinion that there are two sorts of rock shows. The rock show with down and dirty bands that ground you to the earth and makes you feel like getting in touch with the tribal part of your soul. The other, like Def Leppard, that take you soaring into the clouds, lifting up your soul and touching your higher emotions with crystal clear sound.
On tonight’s evidence, Leppard are astonishingly accurate to their material, entertaining and unmissable.
So as the lights slow down and the final chords blast out, Joe Elliot makes it quite clear to Cardiff that “There Will Be A Next Time”. I for one would love to be there because I can guarantee myself a entertaining 90 minutes of some of the best sugar coated, spirit raising, smile inducing rock music released over the past 40 years. It was, without doubt, an incredible evening and worth every penny. Def Leppard still create the Hysteria, making all the fans Excitable and all done with Love And Affection. If you can get your tickets for any shows near you NOW!! You will kick yourself if you miss out.