DEF LEPPARD/MOTLEY CRUE/STEEL PANTHER
London, Wembley Arena
14th December 2011
Tonight is every glam metaller's dream; three bands so perfectly suited to tour together, and my entire Facebook newsfeed was rife with people talking about it.
Steel Panther kicked off proceedings with a set that was the perfect way to warm up the crowd. A great set mixing songs from both albums and with plenty of banter in between. They did take it a little too far regarding a young girl, in my opinion, but we all know this isn't a band to be taken seriously.
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Michael Starr, sporting a very festive red glitter jacket, couldn't have looked happier, and this definitely showed in his performance. Of course, there was the obvious track to finish off their set, 'Death To All But Metal', a premonition of this night to come: where are Def Leppard? Where are Motley Crue? They're backstage, of course, and Steel Panther had the delight of making the most of this.
The last time I saw them at Wembley was when they supported ZZ Top, and they looked completely lost on the big stage, but tonight they shone and proved that they can take on the big boys. I've seen them three times in the last three months, all very different shows, but tonight's was by far the best.
You'd expect the stage switchover to take a while, as we all knew that the ultimate drumriser needed to be put in place; so the whole of Wembley jumped out of their skins when Motley Crue's pyrotechnics unexpectedly launched less than fifteen minutes after Panther had exited the stage. As the curtain dropped, the rollercoaster stood centre stage, adorned by a neon SIN sign to the left and a single star to the right. In fact, you'll get a feel for just how unexpected it came, with this video of two girls singing along to 'Hot Child In The City' as it happened:
'Wild Side' was the opener which set everyone in Wembley into a wild frenzy, and this is the first time you get to experience the best lighting and effects that I've personally seen, and the pryos were loud. Exactly what you'd expect to accompany the world's most notorious band, right?
The way the screen sat in the middle of the giant circular drumriser and how the videos were choreographed made for a truly spectacular visual feast. There was a great gag during 'Girls, Girls, Girls' where photos of girls of all different shapes, sizes and colours flashed by, including the ultimate girl, Justin Bieber.
Pic: Ben Gallagher
There were a couple of sound issues throughout the show and too many breaks in between tracks, which irritated a lot of people. In fact, towards the end of 'Same Ole Situation', it got so bad that the song finished prematurely. Mind you, Nikki quickly came to the front of the stage and kicked off 'Primal Scream', which got everyone singing and dancing along again.
Every member of the band got their turn to shine front of stage, but it was certainly Tommy's night. First up was his shiny piano for 'Home Sweet Home' and then the infamous drum rollercoaster. Whoever came up with that idea kicks some serious butt. You can watch this video to see exactly why words just don't do it justice.
Then Tommy invites a member of the audience up for the ride if his life. Hamish is picked and after a quick check, off he goes while Tommy drums along to 'Love Rollercoaster' by The Ohio Players. An incredible thing to witness, but the only downside was that the music to accompany it was more befitting to an Ibiza dance crowd, not those gathered here tonight.
The show ended with a stunning version of 'Kickstart My Heart' and Wembley was set alight, not just by the pyros, flames and mesmerising screen show, but by the smiles of their adoring fans. Again, it really is difficult to describe it with words, but luckily Motley fans were busy uploading videos, so you can experience it here for yourself.
I know a lot of fans were disappointed by Vince's vocals, but let's face it, he's never been the greatest singer, but he's a great frontman. Tonight proved that after three decades of decadence, Motley Crue still know how to Save Our Souls.
As hoards of people headed to the bar to refresh their sweaty bodies, the chatter seemed to be centred around how Def Leppard were going to put the icing on this already very tasty cake. They've had great stage setups before, including their own rotating drumkit, which I remember from the Adrenalize 'Seven Day Weekend' Tour back in 1992.
So as the curtain pulled back and they opened up with 'Undefeated' from their latest album 'Mirror Ball', the stage just looked drab in comparison to LA's bad boys. Giant screens flanked the entire length of the stage, and there were a few ramps, but that's about it. Choosing to open with a new track was an odd decision too, if they were trying to really compete.
Pic: Ben Gallagher
Following this up with 'Rocket' rectified things, and the crowd soon got right into it. However, it just felt flat and not a patch on what Crue delivered. I feel bad writing this, as Def Leppard didn't really do anything wrong, apart from play after Motley. Oh yeah, and play one of their worst tracks, 'C'mon C'mon'.
It was at this point that the crowd thinned out noticeably, which was a real shame for one of England's finest bands. The screens were impressive, however they could have been more creative with them than do things such as show photographs of them through the years while performing the penultimate track of the main set, 'Photograph'.
'Pour Some Sugar On Me' always goes down well and was a great way to close the main set. The encore opened with 'Love Bites', which is a bit of an odd decision and, of course, they finished their set with their 1992 chart topper 'Let's Get Rocked'.
All in all, a solid performance. 'Bringing On The Heartbreak/Switch 625' was my personal highlight as it really took me back, but I really do think they would have benefitted from playing second on the bill.
The night as a whole was truly superb and clearly my favourite gig of 2011. This is a show that, with a tweak or two, I could happily go to every single night of the year.