EITHER I am one seriously messed up, split personality - or some people just don't get the ethos of those who love hard rock and heavy metal.
[Cautionary note: a rant follows - those who want to enjoy easier reading step away now and read Kerrang! Cosmo or Women's Weekly.]
Earlier today I was talking to a colleague of sorts and happened to mention that I was going to see Deft Leppard at The Empire. Their comment in response was: "I thought you were a metalhead".
They were right (partly) in that I love me heavy fuggin' metal, but as I write this and I prepare for Leppard - I am listening to a selection of recent purchases that includes: Stone Sour, Neil Young, David Bowie, Cradle of Filth, Motorhead, Rob Zombie and a Saxon triple disc best of collection.
Put simply just because metal is my first musical love (bless Sabbath's little cotton satanic socks!) does not mean that I sit all night with a bottle of absinthe, cutting pentagrams into virgin's bodies - well not on weekdays anyway.
Metal for me has always been about those that step away from the 'scene', take what they like and discard what they don't like: as long as the musicians can play, there is a modicum of talent, and the guitars are at the right level in the mix!
Def Leppard were a band, that for me helped define the 80s (yep I am old!). And, looking back to that Pyromania gig in the Ulster Hall, and the Hysteria gigs at the same venue, I didn't see many scenesters there - just a lot of people in denim and leather (see how I slipped a Saxon NWOBHM quote in there!).
Just as AC/DC would never be considered metal, nor would Lemmy ever say Motorhead were metal, hard rockin' heavy music for me has never been about labels. I even like REO Speedwagon!
And - since I am in confession mode children - I also like Rush, My Chemical Romance, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Journey, Marilyn Manson, as well as bucket loads of Anthrax, shovel fulls of Slayer, acres of Iron Maiden and any given amount of Metallica you can suggest! I also like some of the weirder Faith No More and Mike Patton tracks.
But I will not, nor will I ever, betray the songs and acts that I grew up with - from the snarl of Stiff Little Fingers through to the vocal histrionics of Gillan, and...well in the early 80s Def Leppard, Marillion, WASP and a host of others.
Leppard's musical journey was one that defied definition to the music hacks. When they débuted they were lumped in with the NWOBHM crowd, and to some extent they had an early sound to match. With Pyromania the musical curve involved high end, shiny arena production that was to dominate their sound for years. But listen closely to each and every one of their tracks; you'll not find the guitars relegated to fatuous rhythm parts, or buried in the mix. Leppard are, and I hope, always will be a great band. Not metal, but damn fine hard rock.
That's why I'll be at The Empire on Saturday night, raising a glass, raising a cheer and raising my applause with Mark, Sylv, Phil and many, many others as Deft Leppard play their final ever gig in my hometown.
Why not come along, and actually listen. And given that Leppard are on some sort of extended holiday, Deft Leppard are your best chance of hearing the songs as they were meant to be played, to people who actually enjoy the music, who know the lyrics, and who know how to rock.
Which brings me back to those that question, those that doubt, those that have a half hidden sneer. Hard rock and heavy metal are - in my very humble and verbose opinion - about musical freedom layered around a six-string assault, whether it be Satyricon or UFO.
I have not yet persuaded my erstwhile colleague to come along and sample Deft's delights (I was going to add a clichéd line about he wouldn't be out of hospital in time, but those that know me know that even flies are safe in my presence!) but should you perchance happen to come along, say hello! I'll be down the front under the affluence of incohol!