Def Leppard + Whitesnake – Cardiff Arena, 16/12/15

It’s like an 80s revival night in Cardiff. The double denim is out, the patches, the leather jackets, the long hair and amongst all of this is the odd terrible Christmas jumper. There’s no denying that tonight is dominated by an older age but it’s delightful to see such a variety.

It’s a packed house for the show tonight and many are anxious to be taken back to their youths, twice in one night.

It only takes Whitesnake seconds to dominate the stage. Frontman David Coverdale is captivating, his showmanship really shines through tonight. You have to admire a man whose vocals thirty plus years later is still rolling strong. He manages to cover a variety of harmonies through out the lengthy set.

The band frequently engage with the crowd in their own spaces whilst David does his best to get them to sing along. “This is fucking Cardiff, C’mon”, many do, and many just dance in their own space like no ones watching.

What strikes me is it’s just as 80s now as it was back then. Guitarists smile to the camera, pull their collection of rock faces and stances and make sure to give each other assurance. A highlight of the night came from Tommy Aldrige’s drum solo where it descended from sticks into hands and was something I don’t think many in the arena had ever quite witnessed. It was glorious to watch.

“Merry fucking Christmas” David ends their set as he puts on a Christmas hat someone’s thrown to him from the front row. He also embraces the crowd with a quick message to be safe and happy. Smiling away, you can see why the love what they do.

The arena is buzzing. There’s a gigantic queue for the bar, people are trying their best to get the best spaces and it seems nearly every other person has bought a programme or tour shirt.

The set up for tonight is full of visuals. A large amount of lights fills the stage whilst each member gets their own spotlight. Live screens to the side along with screens dominating the stage make it feel vast but surprisingly don’t drown the band out. It feels proportionate and adds to the arena experience.

As the curtain drops Def Leppard appear serious and decked with unions jacks all over. Their outfits, gear, flags, you name it.

The metal veterans start strong and all don their own style. Perhaps not so much 80s cheese smiling at the camera as Whitesnake but they move around enough to show they’ve been in this industry long enough.

Throughout the night singer Joe introduces each member and brings them up the walkway – it’s a little awkward at times but breaks up the set nicely.

Def Leppard seem to still retain most of their heyday spark but it doesn’t seem to rise above Whitesnake’s force and swagger. Per usual with most bands of this stature their older songs get the best of audience who sing their hearts out along with the band.

Mid set sees Joe play Two Steps Behind acoustically and chat with the crowd about about sports. He laughs after asking about football, of course we’re more rugby fans with lovely loud voices. What’s also charming to note is that drummer Rick Allen had the hashtag #cymruambyth written in view of the camera on his set up.

I find myself drifting off the front of the stage at times to watch the skills of drummer Rick. His performance is tight and mesmerising.

They keep the set flowing by throwing in a little bit of everything. It keeps the crowd engaged even as they play some not so known work and keeps the atmosphere high.

With lengthy sets from all the bands it’s felt like two major shows in one, a massive performance tonight for all. Everyone leaving can honestly say they’ve had a blast and most will go home feeling 17 again.

As double headliners go, this was top rated.


About Alex Harris 23 Articles
Concert reviewer from South Wales.

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