If I remember correctly, there was an interview with Joe Elliott a long, long time ago asking him about Cover albums and Live albums and why Def Leppard hadn’t done any of these albums. His response was something to the effect that bands that have nothing else to give do those kind of albums (not a direct quote). I tried finding the article, but was unsuccessful. Well, 1 Cover album and now 3 Live albums later, I guess Def Leppard has nothing to give…Okay, we know that is wrong as Def Leppard has still put out great albums in between all these Live albums and the Cover album. His opinion of them has apparently changed.
This post will be the first in a 3 part series discussing Def Leppard’s 3 Live Albums including ‘Mirror Ball’,‘Viva! Hysteria’, and ‘And There Will Be A Next Time…’. We will start the series in chronological order starting with the 2011 release ‘Mirror Ball: Live & More’.
‘Mirror Ball’ is the first official release on CD for any Def Leppard recording. I have bootlegs of live albums, but glad to see an official release of live material. It was long overdue. The album was a 2 CD set and included a Bonus DVD as well which I will discuss later in the post. The CD packaging is one of those old thick plastic cases that doesn’t hold up well. I cracked the back of the case on the day I bought it. I don’t remember what I did, but it is nicely cracked now.
- “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)”
- “C’Mon C’Mon”
- “Make Love Like A Man”
- “Too Late For Love”
- “Nine Lives”
- “Love Bites”
- “Rock On”
- “Two Steps Behind”
- “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”
- “Switch 625”
- “Armageddon It”
- “Pour Some Sugar On Me”
- “Rock of Ages”
- “Let’s Get Rocked”
- “Action” (Bonus Live)
- “Bad Actress” (Bonus Live)
- “Undefeated” (New Release)
- “Kings of the World” (New Release)
- “It’s All About Believin'” (New Release)
The concert was from the Songs For The Sparkle Lounge Tour and was recorded somewhere in California. Instead of spending time going through all 24 songs, which would take forever and bore everyone to tears including me, I am going to highlight the special moments, the songs not found on other releases and the songs that were done the best over the other releases. Hopefully it will be enough information for you to decide which one you would like or whether or not to just buy all of them (which I have done).
The album starts off with a song not on any of the other two releases and a personal favorite of mine, “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)”. What a great opening song and a song I wish they still played more frequently live. The song captures the energy of the band and has you excited about what is to come.
Since the tour is from the Sparkle Lounge album, you will get a couple songs from that album. They only pull two songs from the album which were the only two real singles off the album, “C’Mon C’Mon” and “Nine Lives”. The “C’Mon C’Mon” song is done great and a real crowd pleaser, but for me, the song “Nine Lives” is awful. I dislike that song with or without Tim McGraw singing (Tim McGraw does not sing on this version). I could seriously do without hearing that song on tour ever.
“Make Love Like A Man” is another song not on the other releases and for good reason. This is another song that I am not a huge fan of whether it is the studio release or this one. The next song up is another from Pyromania, “Too Late For Love”. They do a great version of this song live and you won’t find it on the other releases so it makes it that much more special. I remember hearing this one back in the day. Anything they do from Pyromania is awesome.
“Love Bites” is on all the releases, but this version is a little bit better than the others. The guitar solo on this one is extended to make the song over 7 minutes of pure joy. Definitely worth having this cut. To not be outdone, “Rock On” starts off with a slow bass groove from Rick Savage with Rick Allen crashing his cymbals for a nice opener to the song. When you hear it, you know the next song coming up is “Rock On” as it has the same bass groove. This version is great and I think I like it better than the version on ‘And There Will Be A Next Time…”.
The 2nd disc kicks off with “Two Steps Behind”, which surprisingly is not on the other releases. This is not my favorite version as I prefer the song slowed down a little more and acoustic only. This one had acoustic guitars but too fast for me.
From this point on, it is all the big hits, one right after the other. It starts off with a slowed down acoustic version of “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak”. This is the better version of all three live albums for that reason. It kicks in towards the end to go full on electric guitar so they can immediately go in to “Switch 625”.
The remainder of the album is pure a high energy thrill ride with all the classics. The weird thing about it is that “Let’s Get Rocked” is the encore. I do like this song, but an encore…NO! In looking at the booklet insert, they have a picture of the set list and show “Love And Hate Collide” as one of the encores. I don’t know why that was not included in this set as I would have preferred it to the “Action” bonus live version.
What I also thought strange was the two bonus live cuts. I am not sure they didn’t put them into the track listing as part of the show. Nobody would have known or cared. Having them after the encore was strange. However, I will keep the “Bad Actress” live cut as that is unique to this set.
I have to point out that the dual guitar playing of Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen is something to be heard. These two guys play so well off each other and are both two of the greatest guitar players our there today. They play with such effortlessness and yet the sound coming out is unmatched. They are both amazing to watch.
That then brings us to a VERY BIG reason to pick up this set. Def Leppard included 3 new cuts for the album. The first song, “Undefeated” is classic Def Leppard and I really do enjoy this song. It starts of with an African drum beat and a chant before kicking in the Def Leppard guitar sound and Joe’s voice. It is catchy and what you come to expect from Def Leppard.
Next up is “Kings of the World”. This one was written by Sav and is a throwback to the Glam Era of Rock. I can hear Queen, Bowie and so many other influences. The song is very different, but works for me regardless. The slow start with the piano and so many changes throughout really make it standout.
Lastly, “It’s All About Believin'” is more classic Def Leppard sound and feels like the song was taken straight from Adrenalize. A mixture of rocker and ballad as it is not too heavy, but not too soft either.
Now the Bonus DVD. The Bonus DVD consisted of the following:
- “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)” live
- Rick Allen introduction at Donington in 2009 – it had been 23 years since they had played there and since Rick’s accident. It was very emotional and touching. Rick even teared up.
- Behind the scenes in Quebec, Canada – they talk to Billy Idol and Steve Stevens
- 2009 Country Music Awards behind the scenes
- “Hysteria” Live
- Backstage at the Download Festival in 2009 (to music of “Animal”)
- “Armageddon It” Live at the Download
- Behind the scenes for Japan/Australia Tour (“Hallucinate”played)
- “Pour Some Sugar On Me” Live
- Behind the scenes for making of Mirror Ball
- The music videos for the two singles from Sparkle Lounge, “C’Mon, C’Mon” and “Nine Lives”.
The DVD was a nice addition and good for a watch. I am not sure how many times I will go back and rewatch, but I will pull out the videos for the live performances and the two music videos and save them to my computer. As part of the overall package, it is worth it.
Despite pointing out a few negatives to Mirror Ball, I am overall quite happy with it. It will get played and is definitely worth having in my collection of Def Leppard albums. The album captures the energy and excitement of a live Def Leppard show which is hard to do. The three new cuts are absolutely worth picking this up as well if you needed another reason. All-in-All, it is a great live album. It is not my favorite of the three live albums as “Viva! Hysteria” is my favorite, but this has a better collection of songs than on “And There Will Be A Next Time” only because it has a couple of my favorites from Pyromania.
Next up…Viva! Hysteria…