A trip for which I changed my plane ticket not once, not twice but three times, testing the nerves and stamina of my travel agent. You see, the original plan was to travel to Sheffield to see my beloved Def Leppard and Motley Crue at the first concert of their European tour which would take place at Sheffield United football club’s stadium, the famous Bramall Lane. Yet how could I refuse the invitation to the signing session at HMV record store for 400 lucky fans and more importantly the chance to see Leppard play at the legendary Leadmill Club in front of 600 of their most loyal fans! Unbelievable stuff! Let’s take a look at it from the beginning…
Friday, 19/5: Upon arriving outside the Leadmill Club, what I will never forget is that it was like being in Greece as there were countless friends and acquaintances from the international Def Leppard fan community waiting in line. We’re talking about friends that we’ve been in touch with for years and what better place to meet than in the birthplace of our favorite band. People from America, Wales, France and of course from various cities in England were there having managed to secure the…magic ticket to heaven! To see a band of Def Leppard’s calibre playing in a tiny club is truly surreal. Especially when you consider that they would be performing songs that they don’t usually play at their concerts! So imagine Leppard coming out to general pandemonium and opening with “Action” while a short time later bombarding us with songs like “Mirror Mirror”, “Excitable”, “Switch 625”, “Let It Go”, “Wasted”, “Slang”, etc. Unique moments that we will hardly experience again! After 65 minutes and 13 songs, we left the club where we met our good friend Tony Kenning -founding member of Def Leppard in 1977- with whom we head to a (not so nearby) pub together with many friends to close the night in an ideal and…British way!
Saturday, 20/5: From early on we found (eventually…hello, Neil!) our way at HMV where Def Leppard were signing copies of their new album “Drastic Symphonies”. The surreal experience would continue as after Leadmill, Leppard would hold a signing session (something they don’t usually do) and so we would have the chance to meet them so closely again. With impeccable organization and the expected fast pace, you didn’t have more than 10 seconds with the band but that was something that was completely understandable. Besides, Leppard themselves made the whole experience much more enjoyable as they were kind to everyone. It’s worth noting that in addition to the new album, you could also find the regular edition of their new book “Definitely, The Official Story of Def Leppard” at HMV.
Sunday, 21/5: The day was dedicated to a walk to Steve Clark’s grave and a performance by Shef Leppard, the Sheffield-based Def Leppard tribute band featuring Tony Kenning. Good friend David Allen gave us a tour around the city and continuing our…surreal experience, we bumped into Rick Allen who signed “Hysteria”, a CD previously owned by Jason’s mother who passed away a decade ago and as you can imagine it was a very moving moment. And that’s not all. A few hours later, we went out shopping for a pair of slippers (rock n’ roll or what?) and met Phil Collen at his hotel, who very kindly took photos with us and was impressed that we had made the journey from Greece to be in Sheffield. Dreams Come True! Around 17:30 in the evening, Shef Leppard proved that they are one of the best tribute bands out there and it was impressive to see Tony Kenning playing the same drum kit he played with Def Leppard back in 1977.
Monday 22/5: And if you thought the whole surreal experience was over, you’ve got another thing coming! A few hours before heading to Bramall Lane we visited the famous spoon factory where Leppard rehearsed in 1977/78. We had been there before about 5 years ago BUT now we were literally inside the tiny room where the Sheffield legends started their career. Needless to say, it was an overwhelming yet incredible experience as we were inside the same room that Leppard were in 46 whole years ago! All thanks to two incredible people who worked there and were kind enough to unlock the room for us. 100 metres down the road is Bramall Lane where we were going to see the opening concert of Leppard’s tour with Crue. 30,000 people had created an electric atmosphere early on and Vivas, who opened the show, won the crowd’s applause, despite the fact that the alternative, British pop/rock they were playing was out of place with the style of the two legendary bands.
First on stage were Crue who managed to disappoint the crowd during their 90-minute set. Yes, you read that right! With an incredibly loud and chaotic sound where you could only hear Tommy Lee’s drum-bass and Nikki Sixx’s bass we couldn’t even realize what song we were listening to although I have to point out that John 5 was very good and of course the rest of Crue was having fun with Tommy Lee asking –as always- to see boobs from the crowd. It was a “Best-of” set but unfortunately Crue need to fire their sound engineer immediately. The time had come for Leppard who were literally playing at home and of course they easily won over the audience from the very first note. Anyone who has seen them even once knows exactly what to expect from Def Leppard and the boys from Sheffield did not disappoint…at all! With a set based on “Hysteria” and “Pyromania” of course, but also with surprises like “Promises” and “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”, Leppard were once again sensational! It’s worth noting that the fantastic “Diamond Star Halos” album was represented by “Take What You Want”, “Kick” and “This Guitar” and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the concert (as well as all the happenings of the three-day event) was filmed for future use.
To sum up, I’d have to say that this was my best concert experience with Def Leppard while in the informal…contest between the Leadmill and Bramall Lane experience, we vote for sure Leadmill for obvious reasons.
This review is dedicated to all the good friends with whom we met and shared these magical moments in Sheffield. A big “thank you” to everyone…you know who you are! And as Joe Elliott says: “until next time…and there will be a next time”!
photos from Leadmill: Kevin Nixon