Report By Alison Booth
It was an exciting time mixed with nostalgia, when back in March of this year heavy rock giants WHITESNAKE and DEF LEPPARD announced a joint headlining tour, along with special guests BLACK STAR RIDERS. I hadn’t seen either headliner for years and as both bands featured predominantly in my musical formative years, you could say that I was looking forward to the show in Sheffield!
This date on Saturday 19th December was the last of a run of ten shows in Ireland and the UK, fittingly of course ending in DEF LEPPARD‘s home town, where they formed way back in 1977. The Arena was packed, being a sold out show and the atmosphere buzzed! I must mention, as I was there with my friend Di, also my Metal Shock Finland team mate, that we used the facilities for disabled people – from the car parking to the help received from staff, especially a member of the Showsec security team, was brilliant, nothing was too much trouble.
BLACK STAR RIDERS released “The Killer Instinct” album back in February and have had a busy year, as have all the bands on the bill. The last time I saw them was a few years ago in Manchester, just before they changed from THIN LIZZY and this performance was just as great, going down well very with the crowd. It was fantastic of course to hear some Lizzy tunes in the set and guitar legend Scott Gorham looked in very relaxed mode, whilst frontman Ricky Warwick jumped around the stage full of energy! Naturally, the last song just had to be the ultimate classic ‘Whiskey In The Jar’, which sent shivers down my spine and got the whole crowd moving and singing!
Following an interval, one of my all time favourite bands were up next, WHITESNAKE! Kicking off their hour and twenty five minute set with the DEEP PURPLE classic ‘Burn’, the band exploded onto the stage in fine form, looking extremely at home as you would expect with a band of this calibre, plus their longevity thrown in for good measure. Guitarist Joel Hoekstra who joined the band in time to record their latest release, “The Purple Album”, fits into his role like a glove. Joel is an extremely accomplished guitarist who looked as if he was having a whale of a time through the whole performance, judging by the wide grin on his face! Keyboardist Michele Luppi was introduced by David Coverdale singing the opening lines from the Dean Martin classic ‘That’s Amore’ to rapturous applause! We were treated to many hits spanning the career of ‘Lord Coverdale’ (as described by Joe Elliott) – classics such as ‘Fool For Your Loving’, ‘Give Me All Your Love Tonight’, ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’, ‘Is This Love’ and many more rang around the arena, rolling back the years!
DEF LEPPARD‘s and of course ex-WHITESNAKE guitarist Vivian Campbell appeared on stage to join in with ‘Still Of The Night’, which was a real crowd pleaser! David Coverdale is showing no signs of letting up, which is great news for the fans! Of course as any reasonable person would expect, after extensive touring and with advancing years there’s the odd bit of strain in some vocals, but that said, there is still that deep rich voice belting out the songs, and the genuine big friendly personality shines through on stage as it always has done. On the whole Mr Coverdale still has what it takes and the band delivered one hell of a show, complete with a stunning drum solo from Tommy Aldridge. WHITESNAKE closed their show with David telling fans “don’t let anyone scare you”. My favourite band of the night!
Another interval, then last but not least, the final band of the night, Sheffield’s own DEF LEPPARD. The band received a tremendous welcome from their home crowd, running onto the stage with their trademark various adornments of the Union Jack flag. Vocalist Joe Elliott showed plenty of enthusiasm about being back on home turf, telling the crowd stories from back when the band started out in the 1970’s. Again, it was brilliant to see their big hits such as ‘Rock Of Ages’, ‘Animal’, ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, ‘Armageddon It’ and ‘Love Bites’ performed in the same venue I last saw them in quite a few years ago! DEF LEPPARD also released a new self-titled album in October and have been touring the world since April, though the performance was as fresh as ever.
Plenty of stunning lights complimented the sets of nostalgic old band pictures shown on the screens throughout some of the songs, with tributes to the departed Steve Clark. Drummer Rick Allen was close to tears with the fans’ reaction at Joe‘s request to give him a cheer, the request was met with an overwhelming response. About an hour and a quarter after hit following massive hit, DEF LEPPARD concluded their set with one of their best known hits from the early days, the archetypal ‘Photograph’.
So came to a close what felt like a huge Christmas party for rockers – even in a place as large as Sheffield Arena, if you have the right mix of a friendly atmosphere and excellent bands, the camaraderie can prevail! A fantastic night! Check out a gallery of photos from the night below.