In recent years we have seen some of the more seasoned acts do anniversary tours of career defining albums, and in the case of Def Leppard, it doesn’t define a band more than 1987’s Hysteria album. Taking over three years to record, having to buy original producer Jim Steinman out of his contract, and a tragic accident that left drummer Rick Alan losing an arm may have delayed its release, but it did not deter them.
And rightly so, as the album eventually went on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide. Tonight, a sold out SSE arena will be treated to Hysteria played in full.
The night starts with veteran power pop rockers Cheap Trick with a hit laden, but short set. Highlights include Dream Police, I Want You to Want Me, and the anthemic Surrender, with singer Robin Zander sounding every bit as good as he did forty years ago.
Cheap Trick’s highly enjoyable set however, makes way for large screen, and with clock ticking, the countdown to Hysteria is on. It’s the perfect way to get an already hungry crowd hyped up, and as the countdown hits zero and the lights dim, we get a montage of sound bites as the word ‘Belfast’ lights up in the iconic Def Leppard font.
As the screen lifts a shirtless Phil Collin bathed in red light plays the opening notes to Women, and we are underway.
The visuals meanwhile, are incredible, complementing the music perfectly. You forget – well I did anyway – just how many singles were on this monster album; Rocket, Animal, Love Bites, Armageddon It, Pour Some Sugar On Me; they’re all here, deftly demonstrating exactly how the band managed to arrive at that mind-boggling sales tally.
As the second half of the album gets underway there is a very moving tribute to the late great Steve Clarke, who passed away in 1991. Segueing from video montage into Clarke’s intro to Gods of War, it’s a high point in an already amazing show.
Run Riot and Don’t Shoot Shotgun are the first of songs that have had not too many live outings, before the title track is played note perfectly in all its glory. Love & Affection meanwhile, a song that has not been aired often, ends the hysteria section of the set.
After a brief break the band return with a track from their debut album 1980’s On Through the Night, in rare gem Wasted. When Love & Hate Collide, Let’s Get Rocked, Rock of Ages and Photograph finish the set out.
31 years on from its release Hysteria has become a classic album it can be hard to live up to such a high standard but tonight Def Leppard did so, and then some. The sound was great the
musicianship was perfect, and Joe Elliott voice has not lost any of its grit and power. Do you want to get rocked? Then miss Def Leppard at your peril.
Review by : Mickie O Neil
Photography : Darren McVeigh