Def Leppard / Mötley Crüe – Lytham Festival: Live Review

Hard and Glam, Mötley Crüe  and Def Leppard head for the seaside.

From Wembley Stadium to Lytham seafront. Just a flap of a seagull’s wings from the picturesque Lytham windmill and a short tram trip from Blackpool. However, no signs of ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hats or a stick of Blackpool rock from a little further up the road. It’s Hyde Park’s British Summer Time of the North but without the expense and possibly more picturesque with that famous Lytham Green windmill just a stone’s throw from the stage right. Buckets and spades are abandoned for hi-tech screens, cocktail wagons and a variety of exotic food options and all-singing, all-dancing, glam-tinted Hard Rock plus options to view from the VIP garden area (possibly with a striped deckchair, we didn’t get that far…) for those who want a taste of relative comfort with their evening’s entertainment.

Outside the arena locals gather to watch from their balconies – their personal prime executive boxes are just a spit from the boundary fence. A few gaps also allow more non-ticket holders to bring their folding chairs and set up on the pavements outside the boundary fence to listen and can even get a distant glimpse if they’re in a prime position. One chap even stands atop his ladder propped against a lampost. All in good fun!

First up at the unfeasibly early hour of 19:15 is Def Leppard. The festival stage sees a slight trimming of the production they’re touring around the world as there’s no walkway jutting into the crowd and the huge lighting rg has to compete against the daylight. They head out before the sun sets and with the stage right by the coast and open to the elements the weather plays a significant role. Not quite as dangerous as when Elton was forced to end a show early on the Blackpool prom when the wind whipped in a few years ago, but it’s enough to blow around the sound and the hair of Joe Elliott and Rick Savage who both get treated to unexpected combover stylings.

In other weather news, the Leps are treated to the full range of July Lancashire weather. As stout Northerners, they should be used to the wind, the spatters of rain and ultimately some sunshine – “And now the sun comes out!” yells Joe Elliott in mock surprise in between songs but the lads are prepared with long sleeve coats and scarves, although the latter are more decorative than practical.

The huge backdrop is in full use though as the clutch of songs that hark back to the period that resulted in Hysteria remind us of the soft focus late eighties and how young and energetic the boys looked. Another reminder too of the significance of the record that still makes up a bulk of the set, dotted in between a choice selection, both old and new. Pour Some Sugar On Me even has one of the merch queues joining in with a Full Monty (a Sheffield film so there’s a link…) style benefit office queue dance. However, not wanting to be tarred with the brush labeled ‘heritage act’, new music is still forthcoming and they add some tasty samples from the latest Diamond Star Halos release; Take What You Want is even elevated to the opening number, the friendly guitar phrase following Bowie’s Heroes on the PA as the fifteen-minute timer counts down and as Rick Allen appears behind the drums, the band kick in. Two of the first six are new songs with the funky riffing on Kick getting blown inland and joining Promises in the handful of numbers that act as evidence for Joe Elliott’s quote in the recent official DEFintely Leppard (official) biography about how he sees himself as a Pop singer and not a Metal belter. Def Leppard setting the standards as always as the masters of the crossover song.

They even throw in a mid-set acoustic segment with This Guitar and the opening part of When Love And Hate Collide (just Joe and boyhood mate Sav) before Viv Campbell and Phil Collen mount the riser on either side of the drum kit, to provide the finale. There are still a bucketful of albums that for whatever reason are untouched and that’s even accounting for a nostalgic trip back to the second album, High ‘n’ Dry that sees a Switch 625 get as heavy as it does in a Leppard show. A minor gripe but when you have nigh on a dozen studio works in your locker, something has to give. Maybe a theatre/deep cuts tour would silence the critics – one for the wish list.

Rounding off this year’s Lytham Festival, it’s a fine set that ticked all the boxes from those average, ordinary, everyday dudes. “We’ll see you next time!” shouts Joe and adds the famous last words immortalised on one of their recent live albums: “…and there will be a next time. Don’t forget us and we won’t forget about you!

There’s actually not much time to forget about Def Leppard before the sun sets and the Mötleys get the chance to step into the headline slot before they all do a one-eighty and head across the Irish Sea to Dublin. It seems quite at odds having the notorious hell raisers of Rock and Roll in a genteel seaside town, but there are plenty dressed for the occasion as they share equal billing amongst the audience with the boys from South Yorkshire.

And like their opening act (!) they have a hatful of bonafide classic songs. “Do you like the old shit?” asks Vince Neill and of course we do and they’re happy and willing to crowd please and indulge in pumping out the belters that you’ve heard on the radio or had blasting in your ears on the Universal Studios Rip Ride Rocket coaster. All comes preceded by a bit of culture with the swell of Mozart intro music followed by the spoof news report before they’re onstage, accompanied by the familiar pair of gyrating dancers and shouting at the devil.

The Crüe is prepared for the conditions, appearing in his shades, eventually discarded as darkness falls and makes the most of the chance to push the lighting rig into overdrive; smoke and dry ice aplenty drifts over the stage as the quartet – an almost ‘classic’ line up with Neill joined by Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee and new guitarist John 5 – run through Dr Feelgood, Kick Start My Heart and a medley of glam rock hits from the times when glam rock in the hit singles chart and Top Of The Pops were de rigeur. The masses take every chance to singalong particularly as the piano is wheeled out for Home Sweet Home and roars of approval as two enormous models are dropped in, dwarfing the band as they grace thither side of the stage.

It’s a spectacle that tests the festival waters and justifies the increased capacity, where the Leps and the Crüe join the evergreen and significantly more wholesome Sting in setting a new high, bringing 22,500 to the coast. Testament to the pulling power of Hard Rock.

The festival will return 3rd-7th July 2024. The full line up for 2024 is due to be announced later this year. Five-day passes for the event are now on sale from 

Lytham Festival online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

Def Leppard online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

Mötley Crüe online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

If you would like to keep up with At The Barrier, you can like us on Facebook here, follow us on Twitter here, and follow us on Instagram here. We really appreciate all your support.

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.