The opening statement of my review may not be strictly professional and could sound a bit too cheesy, but is true and comes from the heart: this concert gave me true and pure happiness. My review could have consisted of two words only: pure class.
Def Leppard’s concert at Arena Birmingham was part of the final stage of the UK leg of the Hysteria 2018 tour. There were hardly any surprises about the gig being absolutely epic. Bands with such history as Def Leppard’s are nothing short of brilliant; they know how to deliver an astonishing performance and gift their fans with a truly unforgettable experience. It is therefore only natural that the Arena was full to the brim and buzzed with anticipation. The atmosphere could be felt even from the outside of the building, and once inside, the energy could be felt pretty much on a physical level. The organisers couldn’t have done their job better. Each detail was prepared carefully, down to the music used to warm the audience up. The last track played before the band was due on stage was Leppard’s cover version of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’; a perfect introduction for what followed. The timer counting down to the start of the concert brought the excitement of the anticipation to an even higher level, making the band’s appearance on stage explosive and impressive.
The crowd that had gathered to witness the iconic band perform their landmark 1987 album Hysteria was fantastic. How the band responded to them, in turn, was also amazing and genuinely heart warming. Joe Elliott made it clear how much the band appreciate their fans who had only recently shot Leppard into the Hall of Fame. In his words, “Not that we are big headed or something but…”, this is a hell of an achievement and he made sure he showed his gratitude. His stage behaviour was friendly and warm, he kept checking on his fans on each side of the Arena, encouraging their reaction, cheering and hands up. He spoke to us and generally appeared genuine and down to earth. The ongoing interaction with the audience was also facilitated by the “bridge” added on to the stage allowing the musicians to dive straight into the crowd and establish closer contact.
The performance was an absolute pleasure to watch. The quality of the overall package (light, sound and venue) was brilliant, the lighting work being a particularly beautiful masterpiece. The videos played on the stage back screen reinforced the messages conveyed in socially poignant tracks such as ‘Gods Of War’. Most of the video material accompanying the music was a piece of art in itself. The compilation of images took us back in time with photos from Def Leppard’s history and archive live footage from Hysteria’s original years. Tribute was also paid to Steve Clark.
Joe and company did not stand still for a minute. They played Hysteria in its entirety on an outbreath, engaging the audience in what was an explosive stage performance from start to finish. After taking a short break, they played a few of their “other” tracks and, somehow, the 1 hour 40 minutes came to an end as if in a blink of an eye. I didn’t want the show to end, being mesmerised and fully absorbed by the magic they spread. In my times, I have seen some of my very favourite bands and have enjoyed all those concerts immensely. This one, however, was very special to me. It felt like the biggest and best live performance I have ever witnessed, of the highest class possible. Long live Def Leppard!
Action (The Sweet cover)
When Love and Hate Collide
Let’s Get Rocked
Rock Of Ages
Earlier Cheap Trick opened the show with a 40 minute set playing the obvious big hits; ‘Surrender’, ‘I Want You To Want Me’, and ‘Dream Police’. However, what made this more memorable was having Roy Wood join them for ‘California Man’ and a romp through ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ just to make sure the crowd were well and truly warmed up and in the Christmas spirit. Hopefully a headline tour in 2019 will be on the cards.