Belfast's Empire Music Hall has witnessed many, many cover and tribute bands grace it's hallowed upper hall, from regular Friday night's Glamarama 70s extravaganza, through to tribute bands to most rock icons through the 80s, 90s and beyond (although why you'd pay tribute to bands from recent years is beyond my understanding!)
One special band for many people in Northern Ireland always has been Def Leppard. Like many rock and metal acts Leppard came back consistently throughout the 80s and early 90s, when other regular pop entertainers didn't bother because of what was euphemistically known as The Troubles. Pyromania received an early debut in the Ulster Hall, as did Hysteria, with a two-night stand supported by Tesla.
In those days the dlineation between rock and metal acts wasn't like today's plethora of genres, with some fans never daring to reach out of the silos. It didn't matter whether it was thrash, AOR (hell, I even went to see Reo Speedwagon!), hard rock, glam rock - it was all worth watching.
Thankfully when Deft Leppard rolled into town on Saturday 16th September, the same multi-facetted gathering assembled at The Empire. And all left with huge grins on their faces.
Deft Leppard are Europe's only Def Leppard tribute band. And for once that word is fitting - Ash and his team really pay tribute by playing hard and playing faithful to the sound and energy of Leppard's live shows - especialy those early years.
Of course, all Leppard's megahits are rolled out, from the well-paced Let's Get Rocked, Foolin', Animal through to crowd-pleasing balladry such as When Love and Hate Collide and Love Bites. (although was I imaging it but were myself and the lovely lady beside me - her name was Samantha I think - the only ones with lighters in the air...)
The willingness of the band to turn out requested tracks was also impressive with Stand Up and Don't Believe a Word really outstanding.
All the band are naturally fine musicians, honed through what seems to a relentles schedule of dates, when they'r not doing their dayjob.
The reaction of Belfast to their set was obviously genuine, as was the band's enthusiastic performance. (Click here to read Ashley's interview here before what all agreed was an even better night and here for fans and band comments on the gig.)
And what was better news for everyone is that Deft Leppard are planning to return to The Empire on Febuary 17th, 2007.
But we'll all have to make better post-show arrangenments than sitting freezing our arses off on the pavement outside Madisons!
Thanks again lads for a great night.
(Almost held it all together as a serious review until those last two paragraphs!)