at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, U.K., December 9, 2015

DEF LEPPARD (Live at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, U.K., December 9, 2015)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It may be only a couple of weeks away but Christmas came early for Northern Rock fans with a triple bill featuring some of the biggest names in the business.

It was a brave move putting Black Star Riders in the special guest slot. With a reputation as a red hot live band, this had the potential to give the co-headliners a real mountain to climb.
Forged out of the last touring line up of Thin Lizzy and including members from Alice Cooper’s band, The Almighty, Ratt and Megadeth, this was a group with a high pedigree and a collection of songs to rattle the cages of the headliners.

With a 40 minute slot their set was short, sweet and straight to the point, shorn of any fat mixing the highlights from their two studio albums with a scattering of Thin Lizzy classics. Jailbreak and Are You Ready rubbed shoulders with Bound For Glory and Kingdom of the Lost, a song cut from the same epic cloth as the Lizzy classics Emerald and Black Rose, with guitarists Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson recreating the classic Lizzy harmonies to perfection while lead singer Ricky Warwick brought the genuine Celtic touch to the band. The music and passion of Thin Lizzy now lives on in the Black Star Riders.

David Coverdale was plucked from the obscurity of a Redcar boutique and thrust into the world spotlight when he made his debut with Deep Purple in 1974. Now over 40 years later he has revisited those days with The Purple album, a collection of reworked Deep Purple classics with his own band Whitesnake. This evening’s set drew heavily on his Purple days opening with a firestorm take on Burn, kicked into life by new guitarist, ex-Night Ranger man Joel Hoekstra and long-time sidekick Reb Beach.

Fans of his Purple material were well served with energetic takes of Mistreated and Gypsy while the more reflective side of that era featured the major highlight of Soldier of Fortune, where Coverdale excelled.

Coverdale, in front of his home crowd, was in his element and his role as a star frontman remains undiminished by the passage of time. Here is someone who know exactly how to work a crowd and few do it better, not bad for a 64 year old grandfather as he cheekily informed the audience.

Fans of Whitesnake material were certainly not short changed either with a spine-tingling rendition of Ain’t No Love In The Heart of The City giving the “Whitesnake Choir” the chance to join the band for a moment before a full throttle romp of Fool For Your Loving, Here I Go Again and a storming Still Of The Night ended their set on the peak of a crescendo.

Although this was a co-headlining tour, Def Leppard closed the show and for almost an hour and a half delivered a greatest hits set featuring the fan favourites from Pour Some Sugar On Me, Animal, Hysteria, Let’s Get Rocked and Armageddon It.

Kicking off their set with a new song Let’s Go was a bold move but it’s forged in true Leppard spirit and sat well alongside their more well-known material as did Dangerous, the second of the new songs aired during the show. No one expects a Leppard to change to change its spots so it’s no surprise that this bears all the hallmarks of their signature melody and harmony heavy style.

A cracking, guitar heavy take on David Essex’s Rock On paid tribute to singer Joe Elliott’s love of ’70s Glam Rock and a cheeky verse of Lindisfarne’s Fog on the Tyne complete with a Yorkshire tinged Geordie accent brought a light hearted edge to the show.

The welcome return of guitarist Vivian Campbell after his treatment for cancer was a real highlight of the night and the cheer he received when it was announced he has been given the all clear could be heard on the other side of the Tyne.

The ten million selling Pyromania supplied the encores with a thunderous Rock of Ages and Photograph bringing the evening to a climatic close.

With three bands and almost four hours of music there were few complaints as Newcastle were treated to an early Christmas present by three genuine legends of Rock.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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