Live Review: Def Leppard, Live, Baby Animals

24 November 2015 | 1:39 pm | Gareth Williams

"Perth audiences are notorious for being reserved — not so tonight."

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Perth's Red Hill Auditorium, a 5000-seat amphitheatre of limestone steps cut into the side of a hill just east of Perth, is an excellent live venue commanding sweeping views of the city lights below.

Baby Animals, fronted by incredible talent Suze DeMarchi, warmed up the early punters with a set of crowd-pleasing '90s hits. As one punter pointed out, a little unfairly, "Gee, she's good for 51." DeMarchi is good, period.

As audience numbers swelled, American rockers Live followed with their trademark big rock sound, and though new singer Chris Shinn is more than capable of handling vocal duties they often sounded like their own tribute band.

Headliners Def Leppard hit the stage rather bravely with a new track from their latest eponymous album, but few in the audience seemed to care. They were just there to see The Leps. Perth audiences are notorious for being reserved — not so tonight, with the punters (who on average were well into their 30s) on their feet and eating up everything lead singer Joe Elliot was dishing out. Def Leppard are a well-oiled machine — almost as well-oiled as guitarist Phil Collen's naked torso. The well-rehearsed set had very few misses and plenty of hits, in large part from their 1987 monster hit album Hysteria.

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Every member of the band was given time to shine, with Collen and Vivian Campbell — now recovered after battling cancer — effortlessly swapping lead and rhythm duties, guitars intertwining to create that unmistakeable Def Leppard hard rock sound. Bass player Rick Savage wasn't forgotten, taking centre stage and leading the band into an excellent cover of the David Essex hit Rock On, but the highlight of a night peppered with real gems was undoubtedly Rick Allen's drum solo. For those living under a rock, Allen lost an arm in a car accident in 1984 and has been putting many two-handed drummers to shame ever since.

Audience singalongs, guitar and drum solos, giant video screens — all the boxes were ticked. If you came to see a big rock show, that's exactly what Def Leppard delivered. Their tried and true formula has been filling arenas and amphitheatres for nearly 40 years, and other than a couple of new songs thrown in, it was a slick, entertaining, greatest hits set.