Part Eighteen of the Def Leppard Review Series
Only two years since their last home video, Def Leppard went back in for round three. There were not many new video clips waiting to be released, just the four from Retro-Active and Vault, plus an alternate version. Mostly, this Video Archive focused on live material.
Def Leppard’s big hometown gig in Sheffield was something they were very proud of, and so it appears here and on the previous album’s Vault double disc edition Well, some of it anyway. Nine songs were on Vault; you can watch eight of those on video here. (The ninth, “Photograph” is available on Visualize.) The whole show has never been released (22 songs total) but this small handful can be had. The hometown gig had 40,000 people going nuts for Leppard, something Joe mentions in the opening interview.
No shirts for Phil right from the first song, “Let’s Get Rocked”. The editing in this concert relies on minimal gimmicks, but the choppy slo-mo bits probably were not necessary. It also seems like the songs aren’t in order, because at the outdoor gig it gets dark and then light again.
On CD, “Armageddon It” comes second. Here, it’s “Foolin'”. I like when the camera switches to Phil when Joe sings “take your fill”. Take your “Phil”? Solid version of “Foolin'” and nice to see it with Vivian picking away for the first time on video. “Rocket” features a cool light show, but what’s cool here is seeing Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell taking turns soloing. Getting the chance to appreciate the differences between the two. It’s definitely fun seeing Viv do the ol’ two-handed tapping like it was the 80s again. Then Joe goes into “Whole Lotta Love”, before “Rocket” resumes its course.
The acoustic B-side “Two Steps Behind” is introduced as being from their next album Retro-Active. The crowd already knows it. The atmosphere goes from campfire singalong to party mode in seconds flat as “Armageddon It” begins. Vivian does an admirable job of Steve Clark’s original solo – and then Joe Elliott jumps down to crowd level!
The familiar drum beat to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is greated with the appropriate “hey! hey! heys!” necessary to start the song. Viv is really having fun on this one, running and sliding across the stage. “Rock of Ages” is a natural song to follow it with. Rick “Sav” Savage doubles on bass and keys. Some good shots here of Rick Allen doing his thing on his specialised drum kit. Finally, “Love Bites” closes this portion of the program dramatically. Fantastically fitting solo work by Viv, and Sav on keys one more time.
The next section of the DVD focuses on the music videos released since “Visualize”, beginning with their latest hit “When Love & Hate Collide”. It’s here in two forms, but the straight performance is better than the “Epic 8 minute version”, which is bogged down by boring story and dialogue. The simple, stripped version of the video suits the 90s even though it doesn’t really fit the string-adorned track. “Two Steps Behind” was a cool grainy clip, featuring a string section this time! The backwards-walking footage is fascinating and trippy. Next is the rarely seen “Action” filmed on tour. Joe’s sportin’ a goatee this time. Toto, I don’t think we’re in the 80s anymore! Also rarely seen, “Miss You In A Heartbeat”. It’s the version with piano & band, and Joe’s tinklin’ the ivories, goatee still intact. It’s like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, as each band member is playing in beautiful mansion settings.
The highlight of the video is the final section: Def Leppard unplugged at the Wapantake Club back in Sheffield, 1995. In the interview footage, Phil says that he enjoys the acoustic setting because it proves that Def Leppard’s famous backing vocals are indeed live. Meanwhile, Rick Allen appreciates the challenge of using an acoustic drum kit again. But what’s really special is that the last time Def Leppard played the Wapantake, it was 1978. Their triumphant return in 1995 is really cool and really should be released in CD form. Fortunately it was filmed!
Once again, it’s “Two Steps Behind” but without a screaming crowd. It’s just Def Leppard in a very packed but respectfully quiet room. “Armageddon It” is bouncy, and the audience responds. This take is one of the best versions of “Armageddon It” out there; just fun and perfectly performed in the right setting. Then the new song: “When Love & Hate Collide” was made available in live form right here mere weeks after its single release. The acoustic setting works, but novelty aside, Def Leppard have better ballads. “Animal” and “Sugar” bring the party atmosphere back to the Wapantake. “Animal” works great acoustically, and “Sugar” takes on a different form. Phil makes a good point about the backing vocals. It’s great to hear them live and bare like this because they’re stellar!
Even though Joe said that was the last song, he lied because for the first time, and “for a laugh”, it’s “Ziggy Stardust”! Joe says it’s the first time they ever played it live as a band in front of a crowd, so that’s special. It’s also a brilliant version which doesn’t hurt. Leppard nailed it with pure love.
But wait, there’s more! The closing interviews discuss the new album Slang: “Up to date”, “stuck in the 90s”, “different direction”, “complete different turn”, “experimental” are a selection of words used…but then there’s a preview. Live at the Wapantake, and only for a few seconds, is the new song “All I Want Is Everything”. One chorus and that’s all we get, though the folks at the gig that night heard the whole song. The viewing audience at home only got a taste. Not enough to judge by. Not enough to get a feeling of what Def Leppard meant when they used words like “experimental”.
We’d find out soon enough.
The end credit music is an instrumental version of “When Love & Hate Collide” with only piano and strings and no band. Now that would be something cool to include in a future box set.
- The Early Years Disc One – On Through the Night
- The Early Years Disc Two – High N’ Dry
- The Early Years Disc Three – When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Live at the New Theater Oxford – 1980
- The Early Years Disc Four – Too Many Jitterbugs – EP, singles & unreleased
- The Early Years Disc 5 – Raw – Early BBC Recordings
- The Early Years 79-81 (Summary)
- Pyromania Live – L.A. Forum, 11 September 1983
- Soundtrack From the Video Historia – Record Store Tales
- In The Round In Your Face DVD
- “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize – Record Store Tales
- Live at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
19. “Slang” (UK single)