Funnily enough I had a bit of a Def Leppard “moment” a few weeks ago and dug out the old albums for a spin. Despite liking a lot of the heavier stuff these days, I got into Leppard when I was at school and as a result Hysteria and Pyromania in particular are still lodged in my brain. Great albums, too, which have stood the test of time well.
Several albums and too many decades down the line and it’s great to see the band still touring and releasing new material. Proving they’ve still got it, the band are releasing And There Will Be A Next Time on DVD or BluRay and 2 x CD for your listening and watching pleasure. Recorded at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan, you can still pre-order via their Pledge campaign. Sorry to tell you that most of Joe Elliott’s sweaty stage-worn shirts have gone…!
The set is split evenly over the two CDs and presented in full on the third disc (DVD or BluRay), which also included a handful of extra music videos. The first three tracks give you an idea of the mix you’re going to get. Opening with “Let’s Go”, the first single from 2015’s self-titled album, the band smoothly move this into “Animal” from classic Hysteria. A short break and 1981’s sophomore album High ‘n’ Dry is paid tribute to with “Let It Go”.
By this point I was already impressed and gutted all the more that I’d witnessed a sub-par performance in Glasgow back in 2011 (holy crap – six years!). On that night, Joe Elliott had a bad cold, but bravely played on. However, the resultant show just wasn’t up to scratch as video of their at-the-time recent Download show would bear witness. This DVD once again shows what the band are capable of, and aided by the recent Def Leppard album which contributes one more track (“Dangerous”), it’s a strong collection of songs as well as a good performance.
However, it’s not a perfect performance. And that, believe it or not, is a strength. There are enough tiny little blips for you to know this is a live recording; enough tiny cracks in Elliott’s voice and subtle rhythm changes from the recorded versions to know that you’re listening to a great set of musicians putting on a genuine live show.
Given their ages, too, they’re looking damn good. The majority of the band are hovering around the 60 mark and Phil Collen even has the cheek to look like someone oils him up before he marches on stage, topless. Damn him.
Anyway, jealousy aside, this is a great live album / DVD. If I have a criticism it’s that a lot of the shots of Elliott are close up and face on so you can’t actually see him sing as the microphone and his two hands obscure most of his face. It makes the long shots and the points where other band members join in for harmonies all the better, though.
When you can throw around classics like “Gods of War”, “Rocket”, “Rock of Ages” and of course “Pour Some Sugar On Me” it’s hard to see how you could do any wrong and Def Leppard really don’t. Even Rick Savage’s bass “solo” is mercifully short and even borderline pleasant given that it’s a marginally extended intro to “Rock On”.
Definitely a collection worth paying attention to. Essential? That depends if you’re a fan or not, but it’s as good a live collection as you could expect from one of the UK’s most successful rock musical exports.
And There Will Be A Next Time is out on February 10th