Review: Matt Maric
Photos: Andrew Basso

After touching down from Los Angeles at 7:25am, this reviewer was planning to brave the jet-lag and make his way to Rod Laver Arena to catch Scorpions supporting Def Leppard on their Hysteria tour. Unfortunately Scorpions’ vocalist Klaus Meine was instructed by doctors to rest his voice and the terrible news was delivered to fans mid-afternoon via Facebook. However, this meant there was a HUGE opportunity for a local band and the coveted spot went to Dallas Crane!

After all four members graced the stage, guitarist and lead vocalist Dave Larkin kicked off the set by quipping “we’re all the way from the eastern suburbs!” Larkin further stated with a grin “I hope you’re aware we’re not the Scorpions, so please don’t grow anything at us” before launching straight into two songs without introduction. Leading into third song No Through Road, Larkin continued showing off his dry Melbourne humour; after stating “much like the catwalk; the roadie told us no going down there!” Larkin also altered the lyrics during the chorus to incorporate the previously mentioned orders.

Before kicking off fourth song Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers, Larkin addressed the crowd in regards to a small game they wanted to play; whenever the audience heard this sound (insert end chords and drum run), they were to go wild. Asking drummer Steve Pinkterton for a test run, first time through was “just crap“, second time “was good but we can do better” and third time was the charm! After quipping again about their long trek from the eastern suburbs, Larkin asked if anyone in attendance was from there, before smirking and dedicating the next song Get Off The Dope to them.

A seamless transition into a cover Rock N Roll by Led Zeppelin showcased just why Dallas Crane were selected to fill the opening slot, as the energy from the ever filling room kept rising and rising! After this drew to a close, Larkin dryly quipped “it was a new song and in fact being played for the first time ever.” Ladybird followed and when that drew to a close, we were treated to an introduction of each band member who received a well-deserved round of applause. Sit On My Knee – the band’s only Top 20 song “thanks to a push from Jimmy Barnes – you might have heard of him” really got people moving. As the song drew to a close, Larkin addressed the audience with “you know what to do” in reference to the previously mentioned game.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, but the best was saved for last; drawing the show to a close with “a surprise”, the band launched into Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC.

As Rod Laver Arena had filled to an almost full level, the excitement were lifted to another level as 30 minutes before the start of the show, wrap around screens dropped down with a countdown timer. The last five minutes were topped off by Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode, which ended perfectly alongside the countdown timer reaching 0:00; the screens lifted to reveal lead guitarist Phil Collen directly behind them, vocalist Joe Elliott mid stage and rhythm guitarist Vivian Campbell, bassist Rick Savage on either side of drummer Rick Allen were on the riser at the back for opening track Women.

After making his first of many trips down the catwalk, Elliott came back to the mic stand in time to kick off the vocals for Rocket. The crowd was singing along at the top of their voice during the chorus, before both Collen and Campbell showcased that their talents haven’t faded after all these years on either side of Allen. The huge crowd showed their appreciation as Savage made his first venture down the catwalk symbolising the start of Animal, before Elliott and co slowed it down a little. Fans were treated to an amazing laser show during Love Bites that went all the way to back of Rod Laver Arena; ranging from red to blues, purple to white, the crowd was showered in multiple colours. 

Whilst the crowd had already been quite vocal, everyone in attendance somehow to lift it to the next level during Pour Some Sugar On Me; when the lights briefly turned off, the loud cheer that erupted almost lifted the closed roof off! Elliott took time to walk down the catwalk to a standing ovation celebrating “31 f*cking years of Hysteria“, thanking fans for the chance to take it around the world in dribs and drabs. This lead to him mentioning how over the last 31 years a lot has happened, including the introduction of 26 year veteran Campbell who kicked off the intro to Armageddon It.

After Armageddon It draws to a close, there was an on screen tribute to fallen guitarist Stephen Maynard Clark – at first, it showcased a still image of Clark holding a dual neck guitar, before old concert footage showed Clark playing the intro to Gods Of War. This was a very nice touching tribute that shows even after all these years, Clark is never forgotten!  After leaving the stage briefly at the end of Armageddon It, Elliott started Don’t Shoot Shotgun standing next to Allan, before making his way to the entrance of the runway and standing back to back with Collen. 

You could forgive any band for showing signs of tiredness considering how much energy already extruded on stage, but Def Leppard made it clear that even after close to 40 years there are no signs of slowing down! During the middle of Run Riot, Elliott got “everyone from the front to the back” to raise their hands and clap along, before ending the song with his arms outstretched halfway down the catwalk, to another huge roar of appreciation.

Hysteria showcased flashback photos/videos from during the original years of the album, ranging from magazine articles to live concert material. The catwalk got some serious use, as Elliott/Savage spent time down there during the first verse and both Collen/Campbell played side by side during the bridge. Drawing Hysteria to a close, Elliott threw in a small treat as he concluded with “we can be heroes, just for one day” from David Bowie’s Heroes.

Drawing the celebration of ‘Hysteria’ to a close, the band worked their way through both Excitable and closing track Love and Affection; this resulted in a standing ovation as the band walked off the stage. Thankfully fans weren’t kept waiting for all too long, as Def Leppard re-graced the stage a couple of minutes later. Elliott first thanked Dallas Crane for stepping up, before passing on his love to Klaus from Scorpions as “being a member of the vocalist union, it f*cking sucks losing your voice!” 

Whilst the encore consisted of songs on both sides of the ‘Hysteria’ phase, it kicked off with a cover of Action by The Sweet, before Rod Laver Arena lit up in a sea of white during When Love and Hate Collide; fans all around held up their cell phones with lights shining towards the stage. The energy lifted once more as Let’s Get Rocked got people out of their seats; it didn’t matter whether they were on the floor or along the wings, they were singing at the top of their voice and dancing along! At the conclusion, Elliott was blown away by the response, before asking if the crowd can make more noise and show appreciation for Allan.

Second last song Rock of Ages kept everyone singing and dancing along, before both guitarists made their way down the catwalk and signalled the start of final song Photograph, as old negatives of the band cycled across the video screen through the entire song. If you’re from Sydney and still haven’t purchased a ticket, you would be stupid to let such an amazing opportunity pass you by, considering Klaus and the Scorpions will be there!

SET-LIST

Women
Rocket
Animal
Love Bites
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Armageddon It
Gods of War
Don’t Shoot Shotgun
Run Riot
Hysteria
Excitable
Love and Affection

Encore:

Action (The Sweet cover)
When Love and Hate Collide
Let’s Get Rocked
Rock of Ages
Photograph

Get your tickets to see Def Leppard in Sydney on November 10th HERE!