Def Leppard – Mirror Ball: Live & More (2011, Mailboat Records)
- 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 *
- Bad Actress *
- Undefeated **
- Kings Of The World **
- It’s All About Believin’ **
* bonus live track
** new studio track
Disc 3 – DVD
- Behind the Scenes on the Sparkle Lounge Tour 2008-2009
- Live Performances: Rock! Rock! (‘Til You Drop), Armageddon It, Pour Some Sugar On Me, Hysteria
- Music Videos: Nine Lives, C’Mon C’Mon
Joe Elliott – Lead Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Phil Collen – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Vivian Campbell – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Rick Savage – Bass & Backing Vocals
Rick Allen – Drums & Backing Vocals
Producers: Def Leppard & Ronan McHugh
Country: United Kingdom
Total Time (CD) = 2 hours
Total Time (DVD) = approx. 45 mins
It’s hard to believe that Def Leppard has never released an official live album until now with MIRRORBALL, a full 31 years since the band’s 1980 debut ON THROUGH THE NIGHT. You would have figured that the band would have put out a live set between studio albums somewhere in their ’80s heyday or at least in the late ’90s/early 2000s because they have been a touring juggernaut since the band first burst on the NWOBHM scene. I’ve been lucky enough to catch the band a couple of times back in the ’80s and on various tours since the 1999 tour for EUPHORIA but the concert I saw in 2006 on the YEAH! Tour, the concert I saw in 2007 promoting YEAH! , and the show in 2009 for SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE (2008), are all represented on this live collection. If you take a look inside the nice booklet that is inside the old school multi-CD jewel case, you’ll notice that no specific cities or dates for the recordings are list, just the quote: “Recorded at various points around the world, in the not too distant past.” While I would have liked to know the specific tour dates, it’s a small ommission that can be overlooked because of the quality of the live album.
The Leps have followed the business model that Journey, KISS, Foreigner and AC/DC have forged by releasing MIRRORBALL exclusively in the U.S. through retail giant Wal-Mart…..that means a low price and more than a few extras. First, the actual set is 19 songs long on the CDs with two bonus live tracks added in with ‘Action’ and ‘Bad Actress’. In the last three times I’ve seen Def Leppard live since 2006 they’ve played 15, 16 and 17 songs respectively and the live show on this album is a perfect representation of what’s been played on the last few tours. I missed this summer’s tour for MIRRORBALL but the 16 song set they played at the Comcast Center in Massachusetts is pretty much the greatest hits pack you have here along with the David Essex cover ‘Rock On’ and opening with the new song ‘Undefeated’. Back to this album though…..it’s good to hear ‘C’Mon C’Mon’, ‘Nine Lives’ and ‘Bad Actress’ live as I was only given ‘Nine Lives’ in concert the times I’ve seen the band live. The rest is a hits collection culled mainly from the three blockbusters PYROMANIA (1983), HYSTERIA (1987) and ADRENALIZE (1992) with a couple tracks from HIGH ‘N DRY (1981) thrown in with the instrumental ‘Switch 625′ coming right after the obligatory power ballad ‘Bringin’ On The Heartbreak’. Would be nice to get another cut from HIGH “N DRY or maybe from the first record but I’m not complaining because Def Leppard has had huge success and there’s just so many songs you can fit into a concert. Personally, I would have cut out ‘Rock On’ and the bonus live track ‘Action’ (a cover orginally done by The Sweet) for a couple more Lep originals but that’s just me. As far as the sound goes, it’s perfect but did you expect anything less from Def Leppard? These guys have sounded great in concert everytime I’ve seen them since the ’80s and their studio album always have top quality production so MIRRORBALL has the same BIG sound that’s crystal clear. Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen are a seasoned guitar tandem and are as good as the classic team of Collen and Steve Clark and Rick Savage always keeps the rhythm in line on bass while Rick Allen continues to impress on drums. The wild card has always been Joe Elliot’s voice and he’s had some concerts I’ve witnessed where he wasn’t that great and some that he sounded like he was still in his 20s. On MIRRORBALL, Joe sounds pretty good although you can tell that age has become a factor and he doesn’t reach the high notes he used to, a surprisingly good vocal performance though.
There are three new studio songs added to this package which I always think is a good idea for the longtime fans but there has to be quality. The current tour opener is ‘Undefeated’ and it’s a heavy guitar track with a great drum intro that reminds me a little of the opening to Bon Jovi’s ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’. The song sounds like your current day Def Leppard song that could easily have fit on SPARKLE LOUNGE with it’s heavy sound and big harmonies, the only difference is that Joe’s voice sounds a little raspier and deeper. Like I said before, Joe Elliot is not 20 years old anymore and he knows what he’s able to accomplish as he gets older. Not a bad vocal though just slightly different and a little lower register than the usual. Good track though and the best one to play on the current tour. ‘Kings Of The World’ is Def Leps ode to Queen with it’s bombast, piano, harmonies and Brian May guitar tone. Rick Savage wrote this song and he had to be going through his Queen records but, then again, the band has always cited Queen as an influence and they are friends. ‘Kings Of The World’ is good but it’s not really what you would expect from Def Leppard. ‘It’s All About Believin’ sounds like a track from the EUPHORIA sessions, very upbeat and HYSTERIA sounding and it actually has some parts that sound like ‘Animal’. Of the three, I’d rate this as my favorite because this is the Lep sound and I was a huge EUPHORIA fan, I wouldn’t mind hearing this live either.
As far as the bonus DVD goes, it’s a nice extra but really only a one time view for me. Some of the footage I’ve seen before and some I haven’t, the backstage footage is always fun to see. It’s nice to get the ‘Nine Lives’ and ‘C’Mon C’Mon’ videos and I enjoyed the live songs but I would have enjoyed more full live performances instead of just four. If you compare this package to KISS’ or Foreigner’s the difference is full concerts on those bands’ Wal-Mart releases, same thing with Whitesnake’s LIVE AT DONNINGTON 1990 on Frontiers Records (a double disc live with DVD). It’s a small criticism because I have hope that the band will release an official live DVD but they really didn’t have to add this in to the live album so it’s a good bonus to have.
A solid live set from Def Leppard full of hits and sounding great, a lot better than I expected. The production is great and the band sounds as tight as they were when I saw them in concert over the last few years. The surprise is how well Joe Elliot sounds, I expected that he’d sound a little rougher on a live recording but he sounds pretty good, maybe a little studio overdub? Hopefully not, I hate knowing a live album is studio enhanced but I can say that Joe sounds much like he did over the last few tours. Adding three new original songs is always a good deal and they are all good, the DVD is run of the mill for me but a cool bonus nonetheless. For the $10 price, this is a nice album to pick up.
The live songs are all great sounding but I have to pick ‘Animal’, ‘Foolin’, ‘Make Love Like A Man’ and ‘Nine Lives’ as my favorites. Of the three new tracks, I’d rate ‘It’s All About Believin’ as my favorite, ‘Undefeated’ second and the Queen tribute,’Kings Of The World’, last.