Def Leppard “Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame 29 March 2019” (2020 Record Store Day EP)

For Record Store Day 2020, Def Leppard’s live performance at the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony was issued on a limited edition EP. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 29 March 2019 was limited to 4,000 copies. It was released on August 29th of 2020, the first of three unusual RSD “drop” dates resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019 induction ceremony took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on the titular date of March 29th. The British metal band were certainly deserving of their induction into the Rock Hall. After they rose out of the so-called “new wave of British heavy metal” in the early ‘80’s, Def Leppard went on to define the type of pop metal (now commonly referred to as “hair metal”) that flourished during the remainder of the 1980’s with their mega-selling Pyromania (1983) and Hysteria (1987) albums. And who can forget the incredible story of how Rick Allen continued to perform as the band’s drummer after losing his arm in a late-1984 car accident?

Of course, Def Leppard’s popularity faded after the end of that decade. The presumed reason is that their genre was killed off by the explosion of grunge in the early-‘90’s. But the reality of their situation runs deeper. All of the band’s albums since 1992’s Adrenalize have always seemed to be missing some essential ingredient of what made their well-crafted pop metal so special in the ‘80’s – and that ingredient arguably was original lead guitarist Steve Clark. After Clark died from a drug overdose in early 1991, Def Leppard seemed to have forever lost the driving power displayed on their ‘80’s albums.

The first four of the five songs which the band performed at the 2019 induction ceremony were classic hits from the two aforementioned ‘80’s mega-sellers. The band was in decent form instrumentally. Even though guitarist Vivian Campbell was never able to fill the possibly unfillable shoes of the late Steve Clark, he is an able guitarist in his own right. Sadly, Campbell has been battling cancer for the last several years, but he has admirably continued performing. And it’s good to hear Rick Allen still overcoming his obstacles by performing with a specially modified electronic drum kit. The lead vocals of Joe Elliott have noticeably changed from his earlier years. Although the aged frontman still has a good rock-and-roll voice, he no longer belts out these songs like he did in his youth. His tone is now much softer – which works fine on a slower-tempo song like “Hysteria”, but can be disappointing on an anthem like “Photograph”. When he sings “Rock Of Ages”, he now sounds like far too nice of a guy to “burn this whole place down, down to the ground”. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is agreeably fun, but Def Leppard come across much like a (gasp) nostalgia act on this Hall Of Fame EP.

The band closed the ceremony with a star-studded rendition of “All The Young Dudes”, the David Bowie-written anthem which became a hit for Mott The Hoople, especially in the United Kingdom. Mott’s Ian Hunter – at nearly 80 years of age – surprisingly appeared to sing the lead vocal, while Queen’s Brian May guested on guitar, and the Zombies’ Rod Argent played keyboards. Additional background vocals were sung by Colin Blunstone, Phil Manzanera, Steven Van Zandt, and Susanna Hoffs. It was a classy collaboration between ‘70’s and ‘80’s glam-rockers. Moments like these make me grateful that the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame exists.

Def Leppard - Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Def Leppard “Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame 29 March 2019” (UMC 0819206) 2020

Track Listing:

1. Hysteria
2. Rock Of Ages
3. Photograph
4. Pour Some Sugar On Me
5. All The Young Dudes