EASTLAKE Def Leppard gets ready to rock as fans anticipate old favorites
There's a pretty simple reason why the band teamed up with Bryan Adams.
By JOHN BENSON
CLEVELAND -- When Def Leppard takes the Classic Park stage for its co-headlining Eastlake show with Bryan Adams, fans can be assured they'll hear plenty of hits -- "Photograph," "Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Rocket" and "Love Bites," -- from an era when MTV played music videos and the mullet was still cool (thanks in large part to Leppard singer Joe Elliot).
After suggesting in a phone call to Leppard drummer Rick Allen that busting out semi-obscure album track "Run Riot," from the band's 10-times platinum 1987 album "Hysteria," would be amazing, and thus "rock rock" the audience until it dropped, he readily acknowledged playing the old tune would be a good time.
In with the new
But he quickly changed the topic to discuss the band's latest single "No Matter What," a Bad Finger cover from its recently released double-disc greatest hits set "Rock Of Ages: The Definitive Collection." He also talked about material from its upcoming covers album, "Yeah!," due out in early 2006.
Therein lies the dilemma of being a diehard Def Leppard fan in the new millennium. Having suffered through "Pour Some Sugar on Me" enough times to swear off peaches and cream for a lifetime, the notion of hearing something obscure but beloved among "Hysteria"-era followers of the band in concert is at this point just another rock 'n' roll fantasy. Perhaps the real question being asked by Leppard fans is how its '80s rock act joined up with pop rock balladeer Bryan Adams.
"Really, it came about because we know each other," said Allen, talking from a tour stop in Peoria, Ill. "We figured where else can you go and listen to hit songs all night? The combination of us and Bryan is really great. Unfortunately, we have this sort of tag as being a heavy metal band but the way that we crossed over was really into a pop market so in that way, I agree that we are more akin to Bryan Adams than we would, say, Judas Priest."
The fast lane
Heavy metal or not, the band members truly lived in the fast lane early in their career. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Allen's tragic car accident, in which the drummer lost an arm. Having already started recording "Hysteria" at the time, the band went on hiatus, standing by its drummer as he convalesced from his injuries, future uncertain. Eventually, an electronic-enhanced drum kit was created for Allen to continue his career behind the skins. He currently uses a combination of a conventional and electronic kit.
Inspired by his own recovery, Allen today uses his life experience as motivation and encouragement for others, including recently taking time to talk to and mentor injured American soldiers returning home from Iraq at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"Sharing my experiences with them and them sharing their experiences with me, it's incredible," Allen said. "I'm constantly amazed by how strong the human spirit is and that's one of the reasons that I do this."
The future of Def Leppard appears to mirror its present existence, which is releasing studio albums that mostly keep the band from becoming a full-blown nostalgia act. Its most recent discs -- 1999's "Euphoria" and 2002's "X" -- were respectable, but at the end of the day, the casual, money-paying fans truly want to hear the hits, with new songs in concert acting as the perfect bathroom break.
So, seriously Mr. Allen, what's it going to take to hear "Run Riot" again?
"I don't know, a $20 bill."
Don't think Northeast Ohio fans aren't above taking up a collection!