Holy Hell! It's only 7.25pm on a Monday night and my ears are already getting rawked out! Headlining support act Scorpions start their full on show by visually roping out a helicopter onto a stage of fire and searchlights. Pearly King Klaus Meine chucks drum sticks to screaming punters. Guitarist Rudolf Schenker takes one of his many swanks down the runway to pose for constantly videoing mobile phones, as Going Out With A Bang tears the queuing masses from the merch stands to join in the spectacle.
The die hards are breathing a sigh of relief as Meine’s vocal chords are back to fog horn after a few cancelled shows, and as the boot-stomping crunch of The Zoo blasts ears to oblivion, you realise this is a band who, 39 years later, still cut the mustard.
A medley of 70’s hard rockers, sees a helluva lotta joyous helicopter strumming from Schenker before a backdrop of psychedelic labias accompanies We Built This House. This is 5 old rockers having fun, and it is highly infectious.
Wind Of Change, of course, sees more phones out of pockets and bad attempts at whistling along. Then, yes, there’s a drum solo from ex-Motorhead stickman, Mikkey Dee. Such is its fantastic ferocity, it worries me he’s gonna have a heart attack.
Guitars with smoking rockets on the back of them makes you realise these guys were tap before spinal, but as the multiple crash ending of Rock You Like A Hurricane batters the arena’s foundation, it’s been triumphant, a gig in itself. Def Leppard might have a job on their hands to out pomp this!
Don’t worry though. Not to be outdone, the rawkometer’s already up to eleventy-stupid with the arrival of a topless Phil Collen. The rest of the 26-year old line up flash it up in glittering union jack t-shirts. They bound about the stage, playing microphone swapsies to fulfil trademark harmony duties at one of many well placed microphones. It’s a nice touch that avoids the 4-blokes at the front problem.
Playing their beloved Hysteria album in full, Women and then Rocket are loud and proud, the latter accompanied by pertinent visions of contemporary war. And the hits keep coming. Everyone knows Animal, which is still so joyous. Love Bites, with perhaps obligatory lasers, Pour Some Sugar On Me and Armageddon It. Boom!
Joe Elliot takes time out to say hello, his Yorkshire twang so warm and such a contrast to his sky-high, State-side vocal sound. A video tribute to late-guitarist Steve Clark, served as a touching tribute to his contribution to the album’s writing, before things got loud again.
Then you ponder this: the trouble with having 6 of the album’s singles on the first side means that to a casual fan, the second side starts to sound a bit ploddy. When you start googling to find out which band bassist Phil Savage is wearing on his vest, maybe you’ve reached the limits of your fandom [it was Crossfire Angels by the way, Savage’s son’s band].
And there is a certain amount of buy in needed at one of these rawk behemoth gigs... with the VIP segregation, $25 glossy programmes and, sometimes, overly-slick phoning-it-in performance, but Hell's teeth! The sheer energy and singing along to songs that you are very surprised you know all the words to, trounces on that well and hard.
Encore time! Starting with the silly Make Love Like A Man, there’s more twiddly-twiddly and to-ing and fro-ing from Vivian Campbell, and transfixing pedal work from drummer Rik Allen. After closer Photograph, they all come down the runway to take bows in bright white light, promising to come back and do it all again soon, much to the delight of 12,000 loving fans.
More images from the incredible night with Def Leppard and Scorpions can be found in the photo gallery further below!