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Def Leppard – Royal Festival Hall, London

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It’s been an amazing ride for the Sheffield five-piece, from their very first days finding their way as kids barely out of school, to the multi-platinum, stadium-filling behemoths they became.

All of this has been captured in the new book ‘Definitely: The Official Story of Def Leppard’, a seriously large slab of words and pictures that throws you right in the action from the start. As part of a round of promo for the multitude of projects they’ve got going at the moment (their brilliant new orchestral album, world tour etcetera), they stopped off at the Royal Festival Hall on London’s famous South Bank to do a lengthy chat about their incredible career.

Seeing Def Leppard in huge halls is nothing new but few have had the chance to hear them talk about their story in such a relaxed and warm way. There was an easy intimacy on the stage from the very first moment the band emerged from the wings, Joe Elliott, Rick Savage, Rick Allen, Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell dapper in suits and walking on like a gang of mates.

Hosted by journalist Michael Hann, the evening was one full of anecdotes and illustrations that gave those attending a chance to look into their extraordinary world. Here was a band that have been through thick and thin, the huge highs and crushing lows making them what they are today, a mind-boggling adventure played out to the soundtrack of loud guitars.

Starting, rightly, from the very beginning, the band spoke about the raw excitement of finding their voice and style whilst getting to grips with the sheer mechanics of learning to play and sing together. Whilst some of the stories were familiar to the die-hard fans in the audience, it was a fascinating treasure trove, heightened by the camaraderie of the five and experiences brought thrillingly to life as the five bounced off each other.

From Joe’s parents keeping a wallpaper sample binder as a scrapbook of the band’s rise, the huge coup of luring Sounds legends Geoff Barton and Ross Halfin up from London to Sheffield and the two getting roaringly drunk, an eye-opening conversation with Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott and beyond, this was a night of tales of rock ‘n’ roll dreams come true.

The main thing captured by both the evening and the book is that, with determination, hard work and self-belief you CAN move mountains. Remarkably down to earth considering their status, these five individuals have taken on the world and all that can throw at them and won, the scars there but the victories shining brighter.

They may be gods of rock but beside the huge shows, the lights and the fame, here is a bunch of working-class lads who have a chemistry with each other and the fans and that, ladies and gentlemen, is worth its weight in gold.

Justin Marque for Metal Planet Music

Photo Credit: Ryan Sebastyan

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