One of the most anticipated gigs of the year has finally arrived at the SSE Arena in Belfast, the boys are back in town and are ready to Rock!! This time they have brought Classic Rock icons Cheap Trick for company. A packed SSE and busy merch stalls tell you all you need to know about the popularity of both Def Leppard and their historic album Hysteria, now 31 years old and still in demand as ever by those raised on Rock. The energy in the crowd is electric, it may be a few years since Def Leppard have graced this town, but they could have a residency in Belfast as the love affair continues regardless of time apart.
The lights dim at 7:45, Cheap Trick hits the stage and a roar erupts as Rick Nielsen graces our presence with a swagger and attitude as bold as he was at 21, Robin Zander as formidable a figure as ever. The audience are giddy at the sight of the Illinois bad boys gracing the Belfast stage. A pocketful of classic tracks and fan favourites entice the crowd into the set song by song as the big guns are produced like the 1979 hit ‘I Want You To Want Me’ and more. The guys lay down the foundation for a formidable nights music packed with memories and like a veritable time machine, Belfast is transported back in time once again without a Marty McFly in sight!
There is a large screen adorning the stage with a clock counting down the imminent arrival of one Def Leppard, the arena is now heaving with excitable fans clambering up towards the stage as the numbers drop to zero. The time was nigh and the sounds of ‘Women’ ring out across the arena to a gargantuan roar. The lights kick and in a beautiful majestic haze of light like the Aurora Borealis, 5 Rock Gods stood before us. The sound was impeccable and for an arena that’s saying something, but these guys are old hands at it and with a trusted crew that just returned from the states after playing to over a Million souls on their last run, this is just another day in the park for the highly experienced crew.
Like a surreal out of body experience as they run through Hysteria in order on the album it’s almost like watching a live dvd in Dolby 5.1 as you are feeling every nuance coming from the stage in full glorious Technicolor! With a split-level stage Drummer Rick Allen is up above the lads although occasionally joined by both Viv and Phil alike especially during the duelling ‘Rocket’ guitar solos. As Joe walks out to the end of the ramp after ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ he talks to the corwd about the history of the Hysteria album and the journey the band have been on enduring sme tough times along the way, it’s a nice segway to introduce the hometown hero in none other than Mr Vivian Campbell, as the “New Boy” to the band he steps up front and centre to open ‘Armageddon It’ and as the gargantuan video screen picks up Viv’s Les Paul the place erupts once again.
A fitting tribute to the late great Stephen Maynard Clarke is paid and as I look down on the stage Drummer Rick Allen sits with his back to the crowd looking up at his old friend on the video screen and it’s a poignant moment. Over the course of the night Phil Collen ruins through a plethora of guitars that would make Rick Nielsen jealous, Viv sticks to his trusty Les Pauls and Rick Savage has his infamous Union Jack bass in hand. As the night draws to a close and the lads break into their encore and impromptu Happy Birthday rings out for Mr Savage before the guys tackle an unrehearsed version of ‘Wasted’ as suggested by Mr Campbell.
A sold out arena once again spends an evening with old friends in the company of more than a few beers and fine wine for the ladies, reminiscing about days gone by when Rock ruled the world and one British Rock band band stood head and shoulders above the rest. Tonight was such a night once again. The boys were back in town.
If you are lucky enough you can maybe still grab a ticket or two for the remaining dates of their UK Tour.
Tickets are available now through www.livenation.co.uk
Full tour dates are as follows:
Sat 1stDecember 2018Dublin, 3 Arena EIRE
Sun 2ndDecember Belfast, The SSE Arena UK
Tues 4thDecemberCardiff, Motorpoint Arena UK
Thurs 6thDecemberLondon, The O2 UK
Sat 8thDecemberNottingham, Motorpoint Arena UK
Sun 9thDecemberNewcastle, Metro Radio Arena UK
Tues 11thDecemberGlasgow, The SSE Hydro Arena UK
Wed 12thDecemberManchester, Manchester Arena UK
Fri 14thDecember Sheffield, FlyDSA Arena UK
Sat 15thDecember Liverpool, Echo Arena UK
Mon 17thDecember Birmingham, Arena Birmingham UK
Tuesday 18thDecember London, The SSE Arena Wembley UK (extra date added)
Def Leppard are supported by Cheap Trick across all dates.