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Wembley Arena 26 June 2008

As the two Classic Rock fans (me coming from a Classic & Prog background in that some of my favs bands are as different as Rush & Journey, the mate David more of a Blackfoot & Thin Lizzy fanatic) walked the long road up Wembley Way, past the ticket touts and hot-dog stands and were actually wondering were these two bands gonna cut it?.

Were they going to excite us (in the way Rush & Dream Theater last October did at the same venue) or were we in for a shameful exhibition of mic stand twirling cock-rock from messrs Coverdale & Co and a even more shameful 'We are British and proud of it - there's only really been us and Iron Maiden who flew the flag for British rock/metal over the years' waffle from Joe Elliot & the gang.

This was actually my 6th time seeing Def Leppard, and they do what it says on the tin, they play their hits, they get the crowd going, they play with energy & efficiency and can teach the young bands a thing or two.

Yes they have had their day and more recent albums have failed miserably even to live up to the '92 album 'Adrenalize' never mind the dizzy heights of 'Pyromania' & 'Hysteria' (it's no surprise that half the set list is still made up from these two albums).

Rumours were abound as to how many songs from new album 'Songs from the Sparkle Lounge' were to be played tonight, but 99% of the crowd here tonight were here for the hits. More on Leppard later.

In slight contrast Whitesnake hadn't released a proper Whitesnake album in roughly 13 years prior to 'Good to Be Bad'. They did tour but a lot less sporadic than the Leps.

To see Whitesnake live in the UK was a treat and a rare event since the 1990 album 'Slip of The Tongue'. So there was a buzz of excitement in the arena when Whitesnake took the stage to the sound of The Who's 'My Generation'.

Coverdale came on first to a huge ovation and they got stuck into 'Best Years' & 'Lay Down Your Love' - two of the heavier tracks on the new album. They opened well but maybe not as well as the previous tour (Check out the DVD Live from Hammersmith) when Deep Purple's 'Burn' was followed by 'Bad Boys' , to my own disappointment neither of these two tracks were aired tonight.

Over the next hour and 20 minutes they put on a polished show, they seemed to sandwich the new songs with the old for the first hour, 'Fool For Your Loving' & 'Is This Love' were highlights before the triple ending of crowd pleasers 'Aint No Love in the Heart of the City', 'Here I Go Again' & 'Still of the Night'.

Coverdale now 56 and looks 26 commanded the stage gracefully and bantered constantly with the crowd, I lost count at the number of times he said ' Thank you London for your fucking hospitality'.

Yes it was cock-rock but after seeing this band live I have warmed to them, there is a lot more to them than their hits. Coverdale is a showman, you get your money's worth with him and from the screams of the girls and older women in the audience there was only one man the y had come to see.

Def Leppard came on after a 30 minute break, their chosen intro song being AC/DC's 'For Those About to Rock' and straight away you knew they were going to make a lot more use of the large video screens behind the stage when a large Union Jack was shown and the band ran on stage to a bigger cheer than Whitesnake received the whole evening, sadly.

They opened up with 'Rocket' and 2nd song 'Come On, Come On' was the first taste of the new material, to be fair it stood up well. 'Nine Lives' & 'Gotta Let it Go' were also played from the new album but it was 'Animal', 'Photograph', 'Hysteria' & 'When Love and hate Collide' that got the Wembley crowd going.

The visual and light display was better than anything I had seen before from Leppard and added to the experience. Elliott not so much bantered with the crowd but told little short stories in between songs, the crowd laughed whatever he said.

An hour into the set they brought out the acoustic guitars for the brace of 'Two Steps Behind' and 'Bringing on the Heartbreak' a delight for the older fan in the audience, from 1981's 'High 'n Dry' album, both songs being sing-a-long moments.

The encores of 'Pour Some Sugar on Me', 'Rock of Ages' & 'Let's Get Rocked' ended proceedings. For 37 we did get 2 for the price of 1 (and anyone who got to the venue at the strange time of 6.30pm were also treated to support band 'Black Stone Cheery') This is maybe the way forward for these types of bands, co-headlining tours.

The tour has now officially taken over from the album release in this world of Classic Rock, not in a money spinning Eagles or KiSS way. Classic Rock is exactly that - some bands continue to release product, some good and bad albums are being released in the genre, but who cares if the music has longevity and the bands can still kick ass live and if the price is right that the average punter can see a show like this for under 40 then live and let live.

Whitesnake *** Def Leppard ****

Review by Alan Todd

Best of 2008

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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