Def Leppard / Whitesnake / Journey – The O2, Dublin
With the arena world filling up with reformed pop bands and mediocre indie acts like Coldplay, Snow Patrol and the Kings of Leon, it’s about time the people who do it best return and show the kids what a live performance is all about. When you take two bands like Def Leppard and Whitesnake and [...]
With the arena world filling up with reformed pop bands and mediocre indie acts like Coldplay, Snow Patrol and the Kings of Leon, it’s about time the people who do it best return and show the kids what a live performance is all about. When you take two bands like Def Leppard and Whitesnake and put them in a venue like The Ambassador or The Olympia, they’ll give you an incredible show, but when you throw them into an arena, they’ll put on a concert worthy of the gods.
These aren’t guys used to playing a corner stage in a tiny venue with an acoustic guitar, they’re road trained, crowd pleasing beasts who’s command of the crowd and stage only grows with a bigger space to fill. The last time Leppard played a big show in Ireland was 1996 at the Point Depot, tonight they return to the new O2 Arena to reclaim their crowns as kings of arena rock.
As I enter the O2, Journey are already on stage, belting out some of their greatest hits to an overly excited audience. There’s no denying that last years revival of Don’t Stop Believing has helped sell out the massive venue tonight and almost every seat is filled for their performance, a first for a band third on the bill. The band ripped through Wheel in the Sky, Wildest Dream and Faithfully with perfection as fourteen thousand people urged them on. New singer, Arnel Pineda’s vocals pierce through the bands sound and they’re delivered with such force that I’m pretty sure very few of their new fan base realize he isn’t the bands original singer. With a crowd pleasing rendition of Don’t Stop Believing and a final shot with Anyway You Want It, Journey depart and the night is handed over to the heavyweights.
Whitesnake are ,without a doubt, one of rocks greatest assets. Their three decade spanning career has left the band with an incredibly strong set list for the eager crowd. Opening with Best Years from last years Good to be Bad album, David Coverdale and Co. plough through a set filled with some of the best heavy rock love songs ever released. The fierce guitar and drum opening of Bad Boys smacks the audience to their feet as the band erupt into form. Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach’s guitars stab every corner of the O2 as Coverdale’s enduring powers as a front man struts very inch of the stage, making sure every person in the crowd gets attention. Can You Hear The Wind Blow slows the mood down a little but before the long, the energy is re-injected into their set as they belt out Love Ain’t No Stranger, Guilty of Love, and Lay Down Your Love.
2009 is the 25th anniversary of the Slide It In album and off course, David’s tongue in check wit was on display as he introduces Love Ain’t No Stranger by announcing that at his age “there’s a twenty fifth anniversary every five minutes…but we still slide it in”.
The band went on to delight the crowd with an incredible performance of Is This Love after which guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach took control of the stage for a face melting guitar duel that delighted all the guitar fanatics in attendance and drove away many of the Don’t Stop Believing fans.
Leppard’s performance is so tight and delivered with such energy, it’s hard to understand why this band aren’t more popular in Ireland
The band brought the crowd back together with an enchanting performance of Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City before launching into Give Me All Your Love and Here I Go Again, giving the crowd their third mega favorite of the evening. Just when we thought it was all over, the band exploded into a full on performance of Still of the Night leaving many ears ringing and several heads spinning.
With a break for bar and smoke visits, the Whitesnake and Leppard fans exchanged places around the front as the giant stage setup begins. Whitesnake‘s performance was so full on; you couldn’t be blamed for walking toward the exit at this point. Although this co-headlining tour does have it critics, there’s very little you can say about paying sixty quid for four fantastic bands stretched over five hours, but it’s very clear from the opening guitar and drums of AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock that Leppard are the headlining act tonight. As the stage goes dark, a giant video screen that covers the entire back wall lights up with a retrospective of the bands career to the sound of an extended guitar solo (originally preformed by Vivian Campbell on the Adrenalize tour).
As the intro fades, the band appear as silhouettes on stage to the pounding drums of Rocket as Joe Elliot runs down a ramp that stretches into the centre of the audience and immediately excites the packed crowd. Leppard’s performance is so tight and delivered with such energy, it’s hard to understand why this band aren’t more popular in Ireland. A furious performance of Action spurs on the crowds excitement before the band dip into their latest album, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge, for a converting version of C’mon, C’mon. The band follow up with a sing along favourite, Make Love Like A Man before delighting die hard fans with Too Late for Love, a track sadly missing from most of their recent sets. Recent single, Nine Lives follows before a set defining rendition of Love Bites, another track Leppard omitted far too often from their sets.
At this point, the band depart as Rick Savage plays an eclectic bass solo that works as an intro to the band’s cover of Rock On. Joe, Sav, Phil and Vivian cover every single square inch of the stage without standing still for more than a heartbeat in case they’d miss anyone. There’s no denying Leppard are five of the best showmen in the world and they manage all this without missing a beat. Sav runs up and down the ramp with his massive bass in toe as Joe leaps from one side of the stage to the other to make sure no one is taking it easy after so many hours standing.
It’s time to wander through the beer soaked O2 with a dizzy head, ringing ears and pray for another show of this calibre to come back to Ireland soon
An acoustic performance of Two Step’s Behind delights the greatest hits fans before launching into a semi acoustic performance of Bringin’ on the Heartbreak. Another rarity pops up with Switch 625 before exploding into a greatest hits selection to finish their set. Animal, Armageddon It, Photograph and Pour Some Sugar on Me shred through the crowd causing mass sing alongs with thousands of hands stretched in the air. Before playing their last song, Joe Elliot makes an emotional tribute to drummer Rick Allen and reminisces about their last show at the SFX in 1987, much to the delight of the diehards in attendance. The band gives one final thrill with an electrifying set closer of Rock of Ages before departing the stage.
Off course no night would be complete without an encore and Leppard don’t disappoint. The band returns and dedicate When Love and Hate Collide to Ireland for being the only country in the world where the song went to number one before Joe announces that after such a great Friday night, there’s only one question left, ‘Do You Wanna Get Rocked?’ as the band launch into the massively popular song to close the night.
After five hours of standing, a neck that probably needs doctors attention, three (or four, if you managed to beat the traffic) iconic rock bands and enough Guinness and nicotine in the system to kill a small village, it’s time to wander through the beer soaked O2 with a dizzy head, ringing ears and pray for another show of this calibre to come back to Ireland soon.