Some nights contain a bit more of that rock ‘n roll magic than others. For Def Leppard, the band’s recent stop in London on Monday (July 22) was full of several spellbinding moments for the thousands of Forest City rockers that packed into Budweiser Gardens. The magic was not only captivating, it was addictive. Not too bad for a Monday night.
There wasn’t a seat left by the time the Leppard lads hit the stage. And “hits” was an appropriate word for it, because the show was just loaded with them. Featuring seven songs from 1987’s Diamond-Certified album Hysteria, the band really gave the people what they wanted. From show openers Rocket and Animal to regular show closers Hysteria and Pour Some Sugar on Me, the album got its just due.
Die-hards were treated early in the set to the rare track Excitable, as well as an appearance of Switch 625 from 1981’s High ‘N Dry album. There was also a cover of the David Essex classic Rock On thrown in for good measure.
Aside from one song from Adrenalize and another from the self-titled 2015 album, the show was interesting for its inclusion of non-album hits like Two Steps Behind from the soundtrack of Last Action Hero and When Love and Hate Collide from Vault: Greatest Hits. Rock of Ages and Photograph from Pyromania also brought back memories of a younger Leppard.
The band was near perfect in their execution of the music, although singer Joe Elliot’s voice isn’t as high as it used to be – but it fit perfectly for his age. There are a few really special things about Def Leppard and we got to see all of them at this show. The visuals were over the top, the dual guitars of Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell are part of their signature sound, bassist Rick Savage is the real rock star of the band with his massive blonde locks and glittery clothes, but drummer Rick Allen was the star of the show. The Thunder God has been an inspiration every since his return to the drums after a 1985 accident where he lost his left arm. Fans went absolutely crazy when Allen broke into his drum solo.
Like all Def Leppard tours, the visuals were mind-blowing. This tour featured a massive video screen projecting huge 3D images, enhanced with plenty of lights and a few laser arrays. In some ways this tour reminded me of the Hysteria tour that used lasers to project images on the ceiling.
Another tie-in to the Hysteria tour was the inclusion of support act Tesla. The California rockers are a perfect match for Leppard. The band is a high energy outfit with great songs and a powerful presence. Vocalist Jeff Keith reminds me a bit of Steven Tyler – he’s got the swagger and the gruff voice, but Tesla songs can be a little bit deeper than Aerosmith.
Tesla’s 11-song set spent much of its time showcasing their 1986 debut album Mechanical Resonance as well as a couple from the its follow-up album The Great Radio Controversy. They also performed their popular version of Five Man Electrical Band’s Signs – giving the show a touch of Canadian content – the CRTC would have been proud.
Tesla is another dual guitar band, driven by the masterful Frank Hannon.
Tonight London partied like it was 1987 and there were no complaints in the house.
Photos by Dan Savoie