Def Leppard | Wembley Arena | 18 December 2015
Def Leppard make it look so easy. Even songs from ‘Hysteria’ — an album so detailed, mixing alone took over three months — are recreated effortlessly by a band clearly having as much fun as the audience from the off.
As the curtain drops, they vault straight into a spirited rendition of new song ‘Let’s Go’ which, with its classic Leppard sound and “Welcome to the carnival, Welcome to the party, Welcome to the edge of your seat” refrain is the perfect opener for a celebratory hit-stuffed set. A ferocious ‘Animal’, showing off the twin-guitar attack of Phil “no shirt” Collen and Vivian “constantly smiling” Campbell, gives way to triumphant 2011 single (and unofficial band mission statement) ‘Undefeated’.
‘Dangerous’, a ‘Pyromania’-flavoured new arrival with a huge chorus already memorised by the diehards in the crowd, keeps the adrenaline flowing before the band launch into one giant song after another. Boasting impeccable vocal harmonies, an impassioned ‘Love Bites’ is followed in quick succession by the explosive ‘Armageddon It’, funked-up cover ‘Rock On’, and unplugged ‘Two Steps Behind’, an 18 000-person singalong conducted by Joe Elliot.
The frontman is an expert cheerleader, capable of inciting mass hysteria, but the slick big-screen visuals, no-expense-spared light show, and nonstop parade of chart-toppers — intergalactic groover ‘Rocket’, arms-aloft ballad ‘When Love and Hate Collide’, a beautifully recreated ‘Hysteria’, and seven-day weekend party anthem ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ — do make his job a little easier. So by the time they get to the hot and sticky ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ and each band member has had his moment in the spotlight — including a rapturously received Rick Allen drum solo — Elliot has Wembley Arena in his hands.
The encore — a fiery ‘Rock of Ages’ and gutsy ‘Photograph’ — seals the deal and, as the masses shuffle out of the venue, there are more than a few smiles to rival Campbell’s.