video: Def Leppard unplugged, 1995
March 11, 2015 2:24 AM   Subscribe

In 1995, Def Leppard did a short tour supporting their first compilation album, Vault. This intimate pub gig in their hometown of Sheffield was recorded, and features some really well-executed acoustic renditions of some of their biggest hits, as well as a sensitive Bowie cover. Two Steps Behind -- Armageddon It -- When Love and Hate Collide -- Animal -- Pour Some Sugar On Me -- Ziggy Stardust. A post-grunge Def Leppard, with Joe Elliot looking like an older version of Kurt Cobain, drummer Rick Allen comfortable behind a fully acoustic drum kit, and then-newish guitarist Vivian Campell (now in his 23rd year with the band) on board. Joe's vocals are dropped a couple of vocals, and highly-polished Hysteria-era songs are thoughtfully re-imagined.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (39 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
Excellent stuff - and confirming the saying that what every great rock band needs is great pop songs
posted by DanCall at 2:32 AM on March 11, 2015


I just saw Def Leppard a couple of years ago for the first time since their Hysteria days back in the 80's. They still can deliver the goods live. The Bowie cover above doesn't even BEGIN to scratch the surface of the band's love for the glam rock of their youth. Their 2006 album of 70's cover. Yeah! is just such a fun listen. I'm pretty sure they would be just as happy spending the rest of their days as a glam rock cover band.
posted by KingEdRa at 2:59 AM on March 11, 2015


This is a fantastic find. It reminds me of some great times from my youth that I haven't thought about in far too long. Thank you.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:50 AM on March 11, 2015


Def Leppard is from England? Jeeez I'm ignorant ...
posted by barnacles at 4:16 AM on March 11, 2015


This just proves my theory that 'Pour Some Sugar on Me' is the defining '80s song.
posted by signal at 4:32 AM on March 11, 2015


This post is gunter glieben glauten globen!
posted by Renoroc at 5:34 AM on March 11, 2015 [7 favorites]


Def Leppard is from England? Jeeez I'm ignorant ...

Yeah, and their first album is a rock n roll gem. Mostly unlike anything they did after that.

And that version of Search & Destroy is surprisingly unterrible.
posted by NoMich at 5:39 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Def Leppard served its purpose for me when I was a kid: video rock that was harder than a lot of what was getting MTV play.

Mind you, they had a real Spinal Tap moment when they opened a Walmart.

Still, my respect grew tremendously when they re-recorded their old hits with the goal of making them as close as possible to the originals, strictly for digital download just to spite their record label.

Bravo.
posted by plinth at 5:44 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mostly unlike anything they did after that.

That would be due to Mutt Lange stepping in to produce their next 4 albums, which created the Def Leppard "sound" that everyone now associates with the band.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:52 AM on March 11, 2015


Yes! I am indeed getting it!
posted by vanar sena at 5:59 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


the drummer from Def Leppard's only got one arm.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:21 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think your Youtube links are all bad, but, taking your word for it, it's good to hear that they acquitted themselves so well back in the mandatory Unplugged era.
posted by thelonius at 6:26 AM on March 11, 2015


COME ON STEVE

I annoyed the shit out of my local hit radio station in the late '80s by repeatedly requesting Armageddon It.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:33 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thirteen-year-old me cried and cried and cried about not being allowed to go to a Def Leppard concert (I was grounded for some stupid thing or other). So in 1999, they played a show in Bozeman, Montana, where I was going to college. Joan Jett was the opening act. It was glorious. I got to meet them all backstage (except Joe Elliot, who was kind of a dick). Rick Allen was especially sweet.
posted by desjardins at 6:52 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints, I did the same with Z100 and Rocket. I requested that song every single day for a while, and they eventually relented and played it. It became a minor hit, and I claim credit for that one.

Years later they played Madison Square Garden, where I saw them for the first time. I was a serious death metal fan by that point, but who cares. Def Leppard dude! They didn't play a single pre-Hysteria song, and I was very disappointed.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:08 AM on March 11, 2015


The hardest my wife has ever laughed at me was when I told her about the crush I had on a girl in < 1 second of the Pour Some Sugar On Me video.

I pointed out to her that as HS kids in the late 80s, with cable, I probably saw her for several hours in total. (That video was in slightly HEAVY rotation)

Needless to say, I like this acoustic version of the song way more than I should.
posted by DigDoug at 7:13 AM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've got a weird soft spot for Love Bites. Not a big hair metal fan (an understatement) but that is a well-crafted pice of pop.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:41 AM on March 11, 2015


Maria Carey did a cover of "Bringing on the Heartbreak" I always thought was good.

Because Internet, I have found this version of "Overture" from way back when. I actually like it better than the version on On Through the Night.

I discovered Def as a tween - I was 11 when Pyromania came out and "Foolin" and "Rock of Ages" was on heavy rotation on MTV. That lead me to buying On through the Night and High-N-Dry and pretty much wearing those cassettes out.

Back in the early 90s, I got a gig working as walk-on road crew when they played my little podunk town. The manager of the regular road crew took a shine to me, and hired me on for a few other shows. Got to meet the band a few times - and yeah, Joe Elliot is a bit distant, but still pretty nice, and the rest of the guys were a hoot. It was a super cool experience.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:00 AM on March 11, 2015


Taylor Swift and Def Leppard did a CMT Crossroads episode in 2013 that was surprisingly fun to listen to.

Def Leppard was my pathway back into hard rock and metal years after my mom smashed my KISS and Queen albums, telling me and my brother they were bad for us.

We were, admittedly, really, really young to be listening to KISS back then!

My wife and me went to a Def Leppard show a few years ago and they still are great in concert.
posted by kmartino at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2015


> Still, my respect grew tremendously when they re-recorded their old hits with the goal of making them as close as possible to the originals, strictly for digital download just to spite their record label.

The only album I've downloaded through "alternative" channels in the last five years or so is Hysteria. My wife and I made every attempt to find a legit copy and when we failed I thought "Well, we tried to spend our money..."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:27 AM on March 11, 2015


My Def Leppard story...

They are actually on tour now and will be coming to my hometown in a few months. I last saw them over 20 years ago, during the Adrenalize days and lost track of them since.

I went with someone who I was friends with back in college. We've since lost touch, but during that time in my life, we were inseparable.

At the concert, next to us was this older guy by himself. He was cheering and looking to cheer with us, but it was clear he was by himself. He wasn't creepy or anything but he was solo. I didn't think anything bad about him, but 20 years later, I still remember that guy-at-the-concert-who-was-there-all-by-himself.

Walking home a few weeks ago, I saw a poster saying that they were coming to town.

After running home and going to the Web site to buy the ticket, I realized that I had no one to go with. Except for my wife, I'm pretty much friendless, which I am fine with most of the time, but it's times like these where a friend would come in handy.

My mind quickly shifted to thoughts of that guy at the concert from 20 years ago (today I'm almost 45). If I went alone, would I now be that guy? Would people next to me be less judgmental and empathetic?

But I figure this would probably be the last time I would see them and the concert would be a suitable finale to my "youth", one final hurrah at being wild and crazy before I sink back into my adult life. And screw what other people think about me anyway!

So I bought a ticket. A single ticket. A good ticket near the front. But a single ticket.
I lied to my wife and told her that I was going with "guys from work" (God bless you "guys from work" - I'd like to meet you one day). I don't think she believes me, but she's playing along.

Let's see how it goes.
posted by bitteroldman at 8:29 AM on March 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


The ultimate carnival prize coke mirror band.

OMG so that's what those were for!! I was like eleven and had a pretty sweet assortment of "carnival prize wall mirrors," and that use never occurred to me. It makes sense because there was really no way to hang them other than the little crappy cardboard "frames" the came in. Laughing so hard right now.
posted by resurrexit at 8:40 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


> The ultimate carnival prize coke mirror band.

I love this idea, but question how many people who won those things had enough money to spend on enough coke to necessitate the ownership of a coke mirror.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:43 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


bitteroldman - I actually *did* see KISS and Def Leppard in concert together recently with friends from work!
posted by kmartino at 8:43 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


bitteroldman: "My mind quickly shifted to thoughts of that guy at the concert from 20 years ago (today I'm almost 45). If I went alone, would I now be that guy? Would people next to me be less judgmental and empathetic?"

I have this same problem, except that it's worse because I like (some) current teen bands like Paramore. Do I want to be the creepy old guy at a concert full of 14 year old girls? Nope.
posted by signal at 8:43 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, these videos completely destroy. Will watch from start to finish tonight and hopefully not joy-cry.
posted by resurrexit at 8:49 AM on March 11, 2015


> Do I want to be the creepy old guy at a concert full of 14 year old girls? Nope.

I was only in my mid-'20s at the time, but one of the biggest mistakes of my life was thinking it would be a good idea for me and a friend to get "warmed up" and go see a matinee of Spice World. It was just me and him and one hundred adolescent girls. When it ended we left by the back door and walked around the entire mall rather than risk being seen leaving the theatre by someone we knew.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:53 AM on March 11, 2015


This is actually Lep's best song. The stuff on Hysteria was fun for what it was, but they had gone pop at that point.
posted by jonmc at 9:04 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man. I loved Def Leppard as a teen, and I still love them.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:26 AM on March 11, 2015


The stuff on Hysteria was fun for what it was, but they had gone pop at that point.

When I was seven years old and heard that album for the first time, Def Leppard were fucking gods of heavy metal to me for the next two years, and are probably the reason I still love hard rock and metal. The first six tracks – which happened to be the entire A side of the cassette – of Hysteria were all singles with videos on MTV. (Women, Rocket, Animal, Love Bites, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Armageddon It.) It was the first album I ever loved. So I understand, but personally nothing can change how I feel about that album.
posted by graymouser at 9:28 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


My third grade crush gave me a Def Leppard tape during lunch and after the first listen I was in love.
posted by cwtell at 9:53 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I never noticed the T-Rex riff in Armageddon It before...I totally hear Bang a Gong in there...
posted by Richat at 9:57 AM on March 11, 2015


MeFi Music Challenge suggestion: a collection of Def Leppard covers called 'Eponysteria.'
posted by mintcake! at 10:27 AM on March 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Def Leppard is one of those bands that, every few years I catch something of theirs and remember "oh yeah, I kinda liked them." I can honestly say I hadn't thought about "Two Steps Behind" since around the time this was recorded, but it always struck me as one of the less cloying post-"More Than Words" unplugged power ballads.

Nice to hear that some of the other stuff holds up well to being de-MuttLangeified.
posted by anthom at 10:56 AM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nothing like seeing a once-glorious, seemingly ageless rock star wearing glasses.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:47 PM on March 11, 2015


When I lived in Sheffield I used to occasionally drink in Def Leppard's old local (see also Jarvis Cocker). A load of great music has came out of Steel City over the years.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:26 PM on March 11, 2015


I never noticed the T-Rex riff in Armageddon It before...I totally hear Bang a Gong in there...

My enjoyment of Def Leppard increased a ton when I started considering them a super slickly-produced attempt at T-Rex.

Phil Collen is a genius at writing guitar hooks and an underrated player generally. Pyromania was the first album I ever ordered from one of those tape-a-penny-to-the-card mail-order record club things (which we should never discuss, for reasons known to everyone who ever used that method of building a record/tape/CD collection). By the time Hysteria came out, I had too snobby an opinion of my music tastes to admit to caring about it, but the songs were so well-crafted and the production was so incredible that it became a guilty pleasure.

Some friends and I who were all in a band together ended up getting free tickets to the Hysteria tour at the end of the summer of 1988 - the one in the round with Queensryche opening - and, under the kind of protest of which only teenagers who like the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart can muster, tried to enjoy the show while pretending to hate it. And it was an amazing show. It was impossible not to like. I can say a lot of bad things about Def Leppard, many of which are true and most of which are just snobbery, but they were incredible performers, with one of the most perfectly-executed sets of live songs I've ever seen and heard performed.

There's more to the story, including a funny and embarrassing encounter with Rick Allen in a bar after a different concert the night before the Def Leppard show, but some things are best kept off the internet.
posted by The World Famous at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is it bad that this post is the best thing that happened to me today? They sound great. I was surprised at how tight the playing was, even on the cover when they said oh we just do this for sound checks and it's not very good, etc. Thanks, paleyellowwithorange.
posted by tuesdayschild at 4:42 PM on March 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm going to see Def Leppard, with Tesla and Styx opening, in July, so I'm getting a kick out of this post.
posted by COD at 6:49 PM on March 11, 2015


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