On the 3rd of June Def Leppard release their first live album of their career. When Mirrorball started I was blown away and enjoying it very much. By the end I was frustrated and pissed off by it. Why?
I loved Def Leppard when I was growing up. Hysteria was immense, their back catalogue almost as much. However the release I loved most was the “In The Round, In Your Face” VHS which was a recording of their US Hysteria show. I played it almost constantly.
In the days long before digital ‘ripping’ I managed to connect a tape deck to my stereo video recorder and made a ‘live album’ recording. I played this tape even more than I could have done if I needed to watch it. That to me was classic Def Leppard so you can imagine I was very much looking forward to their live album being released.
When Adrenalize was released. I hated “Do You Wanna Get Rocked?” It was stupid and cheesy. Before then, I’d never placed the band in that category. The album was OK, but it wasn’t Hysteria.
Although it was on the Adrenalize tour that I first saw them live. Just like the VHS the show was ‘in the round’. I loved it. I even learned to really like the Adrenalize album. Then I just stopped listening to them. I heard new singles, purported change in direction with Slang and so on, and I just wasn’t interested. My relationship was over.
In 2009 Def Leppard released Songs from the Sparkle Lounge and I loved it. It reunited me with my love of Def Leppard and I started listening to them again. Since then I’ve seen them live twice, one of which was the phenomenal Download 2009 show where they were nothing short of brilliant.
So here we have a double live album, Mirrorball complete with three new tracks. I will get to the new material shortly, but first the live components.
Starting with “Rock! Rock! (till you drop)” the band explode on stage and rip through some great sounding songs. Everything you would want to hear is here “Bringing On The Heartbreak”, and “Animal” all sound phenomenal. However “Love Bites” steals the show. The musicianship is outstanding and everyone should hear how good this band are on a stage. In truth I’ve always preferred the sound of this band live to that of on record, and here they sound nothing short of stellar.
So what is my problem with the album? Well, it’s simple. The album is made up of the best tracks from a series of shows, and whilst this is normal behaviour – just think Guns N’ Roses Live Era… or Motley Crue Live: Entertainment or Death – what confuses me is why the dialogue announcing cities remains. The result is “Hello California!”, followed by “Boston!” and not forgetting “Rock of Ages” where at the end Joe shouts, “Las Vegas, goodbye…we’ll see you next time…” I just find this ridiculous, especially when the next track “Action” (actually second-last on the album) includes the comment “Hello, and welcome to our show!”.
It only serves to make the whole album sound chopped, and for me, extremely annoying. Indeed after the five track behemoth whammy of “Hysteria”, “Armageddon”, “Photograph”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Rock of Ages” it is clear this is the end of the show. Joe’s “Goodbye…” comment cementing that further. What doesn’t make sense is after one last song of “Let’s Get Rocked” – a strong encore – why then are two more, frankly average, songs (“Action”, and “Bad Actress”) tagged on the end? Def Leppard just wouldn’t finish with these songs and it sounds obvious that the producers are simply padding out the album.
The new songs are really strong and carry on where Songs from the Sparkle Lounge left off. In particular, new single “Undefeated” is great. However “Kings Of The Wold” is plain awful. Joe said in interview it has a great group vocal similar to Queen. To me it sounds like a second-rate Take That trying to rip-off The Beatles. And badly. Even the lyrics are schmaltz. Not good at all. “It’s All About Believing” is simply forgettable.
Overall Mirrorball is a good album and the band sound stunning live, the mix is superb but the overall impression of a live show is lost by bizarre editing and track order. The new songs could have easily have been one standalone single release with two b-sides.
Simply a live Greatest Hits rather than a live album which is disappointing.
You can buy the album from Amazon.