Impressions of rock mum going to Def Leppard Sheffield gig

Just going to a Def Leppard concert was beyond my wildest dreams (not so into Mötley Crüe).  And yet they happened to be on a world tour and I happened to find out in time, at last year’s Slade Christmas concert. I checked out the venues and dates, and decided on Sheffield a) because the band was born here so I thought the atmosphere would be extra-electric; b) it’s a smaller stadium and I had been warned by my son that Wembley for concerts was rubbish; and c) I like Sheffield, I’ve always had a warm welcome. So, I bought two tickets, and invited Monica Costa, Editor in Chief of London Mums Magazine, to go with me on a rock-chic road-trip!

Madeleine, another fan, and Phil Collen, drummer, Def Leppard

Madeleine, another fan, and Rick Allen, drummer, Def Leppard

My finding and liking Def Leppard has always been a bit of a mystery, as I was brought up on Classical including lots of ballet and opera. I got deep into hard rock and heavy metal as a teen but only Def Leppard has stood the test of time. As I mentioned in my Slade write up, it was a bit of a dirty secret, because I always got disapproving looks when I told people, at an age when these things mattered. Not any MORE. The music police can snoot all they like.

At the New Kings Road Vintage Guitar Emporium yesterday where I went looking for I’m not sure what exactly, a guitar to learn to mimic their primal bursts perhaps, I got chatting to the manager who has worked with Def Leppard. He still plays with the lead singer Joe, a normal guy who takes the train and likes a brew. ‘Some musicians only use helicopters and are all up-their-own-arses’. He called Def Leppard ‘the Maestros of the recording studio’ because they record layer upon layer of voice and chord in their quest for the perfect deep-vein sounds and harmonies which I find so exhilarating. ‘Orchestral’ he said. I would go so far as to say Symphonic. It certainly explains why I still love them and need them to kick-start my every morning.


The Bands

Mötley Crüe came on with a great swagger, inviting fans to show their tits, which a couple obligingly did. The camera was somehow at the ready and a very pert pair were projected up large. It felt a bit set up. And juvenile. To demonstrate how gender-equal they are, ‘Now for the pricks!’ was next, but no one rose to the challenge luckily. I’m all for growing old disgracefully, but… It’s a side of rock that never attracted me, the abusive personalities, and thus I have no knowledge of names or faces, just sounds. They pumped out some hits I recognised, but they lacked the rich musicality of Def Leppard. It felt tinny and shouty.

Def Leppard on the other hand sang and played true to their high standards in the recording studio. The golden oldies that always rocked me to the core as a teen, rocked me 10x over live. Pour some Sugar and Rocket… Och. 

Joe Elliot expressed real gratitude, that their old Hood was giving them such a roaring welcome. Drummer boy did a fab solo, with his specially adapted kit, ‘He can do with one arm more than some drummers could do with 3’ said the Emporium Manager, mentioning names.


The Acoustics and stage effects

We were in the pitch area, standing only, and that was a great atmosphere, whole families, yoof, and the balding / silver haired were all bobbing and waving along side each other. It was wonderfully loud and the amps were excellent. Massive screens showed the bands in action, live, and spliced with historic footage, all enhanced with eye-popping lighting effects.


Meeting the band

Def Leppard happened to be staying in my hotel and we caught sight of Phil Collen at reception as I checked in, but only joined the dots later, not being hero-worshippers, you understand. At breakfast the morning after, their drummer Rick Allen (we did our homework) wafted by and fans were magnetically drawn to him for a chat and a selfie. ‘Goo-on then.’ How so quiet and understated ‘a sweetheart’ can come out with such a rebellious racket!  Beats me. I told him I had loved their music since I was a teen; he sounded surprised and I felt a crush coming on.


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