There was a remarkable moment in the latter half of the Def Leppard concert at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on Thursday.
It was toward the end of the main set of the show, and the famous hard rocking quintet were shaking things up a bit with an instrumental number, “Switch 625” from their second album, High ‘n’ Dry.
The song comes to a close with a stomping drum solo from Rick Allen, who infamously lost his left arm in an auto accident on New Year’s Eve in 1984. It’s one thing to hear the tale of the well-regarded one-armed drummer from Def Leppard, but let me assure you that it’s another entirely to see the man in action.
I wish there were official, or even good quality unofficial, video to show you because it’s a thing of grace to see Rick projected on the big screen as he bangs away at the end of the song with his right arm and his left leg providing fluid drumming throughout the song. To see and hear the flawless piece of work is to admire the symmetry of the human body and to fully appreciate the hard work and pride that Rick puts into his drumming.
Rick’s “Switch 625” drum solo was one of many high points during a solid show from the heavy metal men from Sheffield, England. They performed many perennial favorites including “Foolin’” from hit third album Pyromania, which really first made them a household name in the United States, and “Love Bites” from its powerful follow-up Hysteria.
Vocalist Joe Elliott was in damn fine form as well, belting out those numbers with a voice as fresh as if he recorded those famous songs yesterday. By the time the band hit “Armageddon It,” and its theme of watch out for any destruction coming your way in life (as provided via helpful if slightly depressing statistics on the big screen behind them), the audience is fully engaged. The full house at Jiffy Lube Live are shouting along with the lyrics in a manner that will prepare them for the full-throttled cheering they will deliver to one-armed drummer Rick later in the show.
Watch Def Leppard perform “Animal,” “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” at Wembley Stadium for an NFL event in London on Sept. 28, 2014:
Given that Def Leppard’s brand of metal became so popular in the United States, it’s easy to forget sometimes that they are indeed an English band. Surely, you’re reminded when Joe stops to have a chat with the audience, but otherwise the band fit nicely with many of their peers. So it may be easy sometimes to forget that they sometimes come with a different set of influences than their American counterparts. And so it was an absolute pleasure for me to hear the Def Leppard cover of “Rock On” by their countryman David Essex, who scored a U.S. #5 Billboard hit with the single in 1974. Def Leppard covered the song in the studio on their excellent covers album, Yeah!, in 2006.
“Rock On” gives way to a solo acoustic performance by Joe, who sings “Two Steps Behind” from the band’s 1993 album Retro Active. It is again a lovely moment where a single member of the band demonstrates his chops. Def Leppard end their set on the appropriately raucous “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” The encore included tremendous hits and fan faves “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph” — both also from the juggernaut album Pyromania.
Hats off as well to guitarist Phil Collen, who was looking remarkably fit as his shirtless abs glistened under stage lights that showed off the tattoo tribute to his wife Helen on his torso. Bassist Rick Savage kept excellent rhythm with Rick Allen, and guitarist Vivian Campbell presented dapper Irish flair to the proceedings.
Def Leppard continue their current U.S. tour on a bill with Tesla and Styx, traveling through New England this week on onward through the Midwest and across the country to the West Coast throughout August and September. They are playing quite a lot of shows this time around, and they are sure to remind you of why Pyromania and Hysteria are *diamond*-certified albums.