WEST VALLEY CITY Def Leppard is making an abbreviated lap around America this summer, playing cities that have been left off the tour itinerary for awhile.
But theyre also making a few stops at some of their traditionally strongest marketsand that includes Utah.
I actually like coming to Salt Lake City. Weve started tours there. Weve been there for a few days and we hang out. So I really dig hanging out in Salt Lake City. Ive got some friends there as well. Its kind of like an old friend. You throw your bag down in the corner and you know exactly where it is, youve been in the same room a million times, lead guitarist Phil Collen told the Deseret Newsduring a recent tour stop.
This Monday at the USANA Amphitheatre, the iconic Def Leppard returns to Utah along with Tesla and a reunited Poison, and is looking to continue its streak of selling out the venuecurrently sitting at something like five times in a row. Evidence of the long love affair between Salt Lake City and the Leppardscan be found on thebands Mirror Ballalbum, which includes live tracks from various stops on their 2008-2009 tour. Most of the live recordings on the album are from Utah.
Last year, Def Leppard came into town in support of their self-titled 2015 album, a project that proved the band wasnt simply going through the motions when making new music. The Def Leppard album was the best thing the band has released in a decade.
But a few months before the band played at USANA, singer Joe Elliot had some highly publicized vocal problems, forcing the band to postpone several shows. Still, when Def Leppards tour rolled into Utah, any fears that fans were not going to get their moneys worth were quickly erased as soon as Elliot took the stage. Rather than sounding like someone who was still recovering, Elliots voice was the best it had sounded in years.
Hes sounding way better than he did last year. Hes actually been doing these vocal warm-ups. Hes really been taking care of his voice, Collen said. Joe can actually sing things that he physically cant normally do, that, you know, you take two weeks to do in a studio and luckily get one of the lines. He's actually nailing this stuff every night. Its the effort thing. And thats something weve always been proud of ourselves.
But Collen said it was touch and go for awhile, revealing that at one point doctors suggested throat surgery, a path Elliot did not want to go down. Today, Collen said Elliot religiously does vocal exercises. He compared it to opera singers who are in their 70s and still killing it every night. Collen says it'sbecause those singers are making theeffort to exercise their vocals and keep their voices strong, unlike some rock singers who just scream until they cant do it any more.
I think theres a thing with pop people and rock people especially, where they really dont take it that seriously, and theres an ego thing thats bigger than their talent, he said. Like an athlete, you really have to work at it to keep it at that level. Im really proud to say that Joe is really working at it. Im so proud of him. And I keep telling him this is the best Ive ever heard you since Ive known you.
Even though this years summer tour is shorter than normal, that doesnt mean Def Leppard is ready to go into hibernation for the rest of the year. In September, the band will play its first Rock in Rio show. Theyre also headed to South America later in the year. And the band is busy writing new music. Collen anticipates Def Leppard will embark on a much larger world tour next year.
The band is also preparing to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its most successful album, Hysteria, which has sold 25 million copies worldwide. The album that includes fan favorites "Pour Some Sugar On Me," "Armageddon It," and "Animal" turns 30 in August. To mark the occasion, Def Lep will re-release all of their albums in a vinyl box set.
Unfortunately for fans, a long rumored return to Vegas for a residency to celebrate the bands second biggest album, Pyromania ("Photograph," "Rock of Ages," "Foolin") is looking less and less like it will happen as Collen says other opportunities keep popping up for the band.
The always busy Collen also doesnt have any shortage of projects on his plate. Not only is he finishing work on longtime touring mates Teslas next album, but his blues side project Delta Deep has a new live album coming out, and his guitar playing will be heard on a few songs off the upcoming new album from The Professionals, a band formed by members of The Sex Pistols after that bands demise.
In July, Collen has been invited along with Warren DeMartini of Ratt, and Paul Gilbert of Mr. Big, to Joe Satrianis G4 Experience, providing workshops and activities for guitar players of all skill levels.
Collen says he plans on talking about the psychology of guitar playing and how the ego can affect a persons playing. Collen said when he first started playing guitar, it was for artistic expression. Guitar playing provided an escape valve for his teen angst. And for a lot of people, Collen saidplayingguitar helps build confidence. Guitar players performing on stage should be more concerned with expressing themselves than how people might judge them, he said.
The Deseret News talked to Collen shortly after the attack in Manchester and asked for his comments on the situation. Def Leppard formed in 1977 in the neighboring city of Sheffield, though Collen grew up near London. When Collen was growing up, it was bombings by the Irish Republican Army in the 1970s that England had to worry about. He said he really didnt have an answer on how to stop the continuous cycle of violence in the world.
All of these terrorism things, its really disgusting. What do you do? Theres this mentality thats beyond any logic. Its got no noble cause attached to it whatsoever, killing little girls, little school children, he said. Human nature is not very nice. And the reality is its a harsh, cruel world.