Wembley

REVIEW: Def Leppard – Live at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert (1992)

Part Fourteen of the Def Leppard Review Series

DEF LEPPARD – A Concert For Life – Tribute to Freddie Mercury (Wembley Stadium, 20 April 1992)

Metallica had come and blown the crowd of 72,000 away.  Extreme impressed the skeptics with a Queen medley.   Live broadcast to 50 countries, there was no pressure at all on Def Leppard!  The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was only the biggest show of 1992.  And they had a new member to show off.

The band had given their new guitarist an easy warm up at a club gig at home in Ireland.  But his first high profile show would be the biggest imaginable.  Without an introduction, out walked former Sweet Savage / Dio / Whitesnake / Riverdogs / Shadow King guitarist Vivian Campbell!

What a choice!  There he was with his new band, completely confident and nailing “Animal”.  In his Union Jack jeans, Joe Elliott bounced on the massive stage, working the crowd without missing a note.  After a brief pause, he then asked the throbbing mass of people, “Do you wanna get rocked?”

It was the first major live outing of a brand new Def Leppard hit.  Hamming for the camera, Vivian ably handles the backing vocals, adding more depth to the live Leppard sound.  The late Steve Clark didn’t sing as many backing vocals, and Viv was a natural.  The crowd ate it up, fists in the air and digging the new tune.  One of the coolest moments is the solo, in which Phil Collen’s picking hand turns into a blur.

One more tune.  And then an even bigger moment:  Brian May himself joined Def Leppard for a cover of Queen’s “Now I’m Here”!  (This track was later included on the 2 CD Adrenalize deluxe edition.)  Of course we all awaited the guitar solo.  Viv went first (introduced by Joe for the first time), and Phil took the second solo.  They really made ’em wait for Brian May!  It was, of course, not May’s first time with Def Leppard.

Even bigger things were in store for the Wembley Crowd as day turned to night.  Queen emerged, playing a long set of classics with a series of incredible guest singers.  And Joe got to open their set, with Slash on guest guitar.  With one of his very favourite bands, Joe got to sing “Tie Your Mother Down”.  And nailed it.

The big question for Leppard fans was “who could possibly replace Steve Clark?”  In Vivian Campbell, they selected a guy who could play with both feel and shred, as well as write songs and sing.  The personalities worked.  The ironic thing is, post-Dio, Vivian had been seen as something of a “hired gun” guitar player.  Would he last in Def Leppard?  In his early interviews, he insisted that he was always looking for a band situation that he could stay in for life.  It turns out that Def Leppard was that band.

Club gig aside, the Freddie Mercury tribute concert was Vivian’s real trial by fire.  It was obvious the band had made the right choice.  Nobody could truly “replace” Steve Clark as the band’s in-house riffmaster.  Vivian helped Leppard evolve into the 1990s.  On with the tour!  Leppard might not have been the biggest rock band in the world anymore, but they rocked 72,000 people, plus millions more at home worldwide.  Not too shabby.

5/5 stars

MuchMusic broadcast the whole show, and then did a repeat performance of the entire thing at night.  It was then that I set my VCR and taped the entire broadcast, with Erica Ehm’s interviews with various bands, including Def Leppard.  Wembley were treated to Queen videos on massive screens in between bands, and those videos are also part of the broadcast.  MuchMusic’s feed was superior to MTV.  I was in Frankenmuth, Michigan mere days later at the end of final exams, watching MTV.  Our coverage was better.  The complete show has never been officially released in any format.

Previous:  

  1. The Early Years Disc One – On Through the Night 
  2. The Early Years Disc Two – High N’ Dry
  3. The Early Years Disc Three – When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Live at the New Theater Oxford – 1980
  4. The Early Years Disc Four – Too Many Jitterbugs – EP, singles & unreleased
  5. The Early Years Disc 5 – Raw – Early BBC Recordings 
  6. The Early Years 79-81 (Summary)
  7. Pyromania
  8. Pyromania Live – L.A. Forum, 11 September 1983
  9. Hysteria
  10. Soundtrack From the Video Historia – Record Store Tales
  11. In The Round In Your Face DVD
  12. “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize – Record Store Tales
  13. Adrenalize

Next:

15.  Retro-Active

REVIEW: Skid Row – “Wasted Time” (1991 7″ single)

SKID ROW – “Wasted Time” (1991 7″ single)

I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb if I call this the best song on Slave to the Grind.  The closing song on a damn fine metal album, “Wasted Time” is awesome.  It’s in “power ballad” territory, but it’s much darker than Skid Row’s prior hit ballad, “I Remember You”.  Sebastian Bach turns in the best vocal performance of his life on this one.  Sebastian co-wrote the song, about the damages of addiction.

Both the 7″ and the 12″ singles come with the previously unreleased live bonus track, “Get the Fuck Out”.  (The other bonus tracks on the 12″ are “Holidays in the Sun” and “Psycho Love” which are both available elsewhere.)  “Get the Fuck Out”, recorded at fuckin’ Wembley fer Christ’s sakes, features a long Sebastian intro that is probably more interesting than the song itself!  Apparently, Skid Row were given a letter that stated specifically that Skid Row were not to play “Get the Fuck Out”.  So what do they do?

Sebastian:  “It says here, they’re gonna stop the show, because they don’t like the word ‘fuck’!  And you’re not allowed to hear it!”  Baz then leads the crowd in a chant of “get the fuck out!” before Skid Row drive into the song.  As fans know, it’s a short firecracker punk rock song, and Baz is in top voice.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Marillion – The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol 2 (2010)

Part 2 of a 2 part series!  Missed Part 1?  Click here for Early Stages: the Official Bootleg Box Set from the Fish era.

MARILLION – The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol 2 (2010 EMI)

Spanning Seasons End through to Brave, Vol 2 of the Official Bootleg Box (Vol 1 is of course the Fish years) effectively captures what some believe to be the best years of Steve Hogarth’s tenure. You will, naturally, get some repeat within the 8 discs inside. You’ll hear “Easter” more than once. You’ll hear “Uninvited Guest” more than once. It is what it is.

Here’s a breakdown of the contents herein:

  • Discs 1 & 2:  Leicester, April 24 1990
  • Disc 3:  BBC Friday Rock Show, Workington, July 13 1991
  • Discs 4 & 5:  Wembley, London, September 5 1992
  • Discs 6 & 7:  Warsaw, June 15 1994
  • Disc 8:  BBC Sessions EP, 1992-1994

Obviously the BBC stuff has a higher fidelity than the other stuff. It’s called a bootleg box set for a reason! But the other discs still sound acceptably good. They are soundboard recordings, not audience recordings. Hogarth’s voice is a bit hoarse in Warsaw 1994, but that’s the reality of a live concert setting.  A reality that I love and embrace.

BOOT BOX 2_0003The highlights are many. “Sugar Mice” is always great, regardless of who sings it. It was also nice hearing “I Will Walk On Water” and “Sympathy” during the Wembley 1992 show; both are from the then-recent Six of One, Half-Dozen of the Other compilation album. Attentive listeners will even hear Marillion strumming away on an embrionic version of “Made Again”, a full two years before it was released! You will get to hear all of Brave performed live in 1994. I liked the moment in the Warsaw show when Hogarth asks security to go easy on the fans, “they are not animals”.

Some people bitched that it’s not a full length CD, but I dug the BBC Sessions EP.  It’s just a four song acoustic EP, but it sounds amazing. Today, Marillion have a ton of acoustic work (Less = More, Unplugged at the Walls, Los Trios Marillios to name some of many), but this is the earliest acoustic set that I think I’ve heard. The only problem is, it’s mastered way louder than the other 7 discs. Kind of jarring when you have them on continuous play and you have to jump for the volume knob!

The box set includes each CD in its own fully illustrated cardboard sleeve, as well as a booklet. The box itself is slim but sturdy.

If you’re a Marillion diehard, you will obviously want to somehow save enough pennies to add this to your collection. Even though I have already somewhere in the neighborhood of…God, I don’t know? Over 50 live albums from the Hogarth years alone? Many of them 2 and 3 disc sets? I’ve lost track of how many I have, and that doesn’t include their download-only instant live albums! But this is still a great package to own, especially because the older live Hogarth albums are getting harder to find. (Don’t know how you’d get a copy of Front Row Club #1 at this point, for example.)

4/5 stars