Def Leppard / Mötley Crüe (with Steel Panther) @ Capital FM Arena 8/12/11

Def Leppard are no strangers to joint-headline tours, working alongside Heart in their US summer tour, and Whitesnake in their 2008 UK tour, however this tour held particular appeal, as they joined up with their contemporary, US outfit, Mötley Crüe. This show was not for the faint-hearted as fans expected, and received, a full night of what these UK/US rock ‘n’ roll bands had to throw at their fans.

Doors were open early at half five, and the support to the headliners Steel Panther got onstage at just half past six – much earlier than would usually be expected. Yet, in order to construct and then completely remove each band’s stage set-up it was necessary to allow slightly longer than normal between acts, with both headliners intending to fulfil an hour and a half set.
The Capital FM Arena (particular the standing section) was noticeably fuller than would normally be seen for a support act, but they well-complimented the headliners, and were worthy of drawing such a large crowd. Lewd, crude and couldn’t give a damn. Steel Panther blasted through their set, promoting their recently released ‘Balls Out’ album, with a view to selling tickets for their future headline tour. They received an extremely keen reception as they demonstrated their own take on sex-driven hard-rock, and their show should be a good indicator for the success of their own tour.

Mötley Crüe literally exploded into their set, as mini-explosions, alongside the dropping of the stage-covering veil, revealed their impressive stage set-up with a focus towards emphasising the wow factor. Crüe, infamous for their extreme exploitation of the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll adage, gave a performance matching up to their reputation. Out to prove that this was nothing less than a ‘joint’ headline tour, their use of pyrotechnics, firework explosions and lighting provided an extremely entertaining show.

Perhaps most shocking of all, was the moment where the crowd watched in awe, as Tommy Lee’s drumkit traversed the circular light rig centre-stage, and he began drumming upside down during his solo-piece. Furthermore, not content to simply impress the crowd, Crüe showed the extent to which they would go in order to put on a great show. They selected a member of the audience, attached another seat to Lee’s and they both looped the rig during another drum solo. This ludicrous, yet spectacular demonstration of commitment to providing a fantastic show epitomised the spirit of the band, and their lust for truly hard-core rock ‘n’ roll.

After the transition time to remove Mötley Crüe’s extravagant stage set-up, AC/DC’s ‘For Those About to Rock’ rang out across the Capital FM Arena to signal Def Leppard’s arrival. This was heralded as the ‘Mirror Ball Tour’ after their recent album release, yet only the single from the album ‘Undefeated’ featured in the set as the show opener. This was not too surprising as Def Leppard have a formidable back-catalogue, which they explored over the course of the night, including ‘Gods of War’ from the ‘Hysteria’ album which had not featured in their setlists for over two decades.

Def Leppard employed a much more intricate, carefully constructed light show as oppose to the emphatic effects used by Crüe, yet there stage presence was no less marked. Fans were in good voice, particular during the acoustic set, and some of the better-known signature songs throughout the set. There was a clear cross-generational following at the Capital FM Arena, showing how these bastions of British rock can still work a crowd to just as great an effect as during their early years in the ‘80s.

The show eventually concluded around quarter past eleven, when fans who had been there since the opening of the Steel Panther set at half past six had enjoyed a full-night of transatlantic rock ‘n’ roll. Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard provided two very different and outstanding shows which proved that they were still very much alive and kicking, and keen to give their Nottingham fan base a night to remember.

Chris Morris


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