Phil Collen was recently interviewed by Ultimate Classic Rock. I respect what Phil Collen did with the band early on. I love most everything off of their first three album, and parts of their biggest selling album Hysteria. My biggest gripe is hearing him consistently say Hysteria, the first album he was involved writing, is obviously their best album because it sold the most.
I realize that my musical tastes are very particular. I never understood most sales, equals best. Sure, when it comes to the people at the label, manager, and members of the band, that’s what put the most amount of money in their pockets. But is it always their best album? Let’s not forget, he joined Def Leppard to record some solos on Pyromania. His solo on “Photograph”, the song they close with every night, is one of the greatest hard rock solos of all time. So why don’t they close with something off of Hysteria?
I would argue that when it comes to influence, the two albums before Hysteria, High N Dry, and Pyromania had a lot more to do with influencing other bands. By the time Pyromania came out, their first three albums, including One Through The Night, were all massive sellers. Given the commercial success of Hysteria, this helped sell even more copies of those albums, to casual fans that had only jumped on board because of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.
During the interview he told Ultimate Classic Rock the following:
“One of the things you constantly hear is, ‘Oh, how come you guys never play deep cuts?'” Collen says. “If you’ve ever been to a Rolling Stones show, as soon as they play a new song, everyone just leaves and goes to the bar. You have to please your base, you have to please the people that are coming to see you. You can’t say, ‘Oh, we’re gonna drop “Photograph” tonight or “Hysteria,”‘ because everyone will get bummed out.”
Seriously? Literally no one is asking them to play a deep cut off of X. Not a single person is saying drop every staple from the band’s playlist. So they included “Die Hard The Hunter” and “Billy’s Got A Gun” at their Vegas residency. They could include any song off of Pyromania and get a great reaction out of the crowd. I would say they could do the same with most of the material off of the first four albums.
HERE’S PHIL COLLEN AND DEF LEPPARD PLAYING ONE OF MY FAVORITE DEEP CUTS BY THE BAND “PAPER SUN”:
I’ve never understood that most bands treat these Vegas residencies, like just another series of shows. I aplaude them for giving die-hards what they want. Growing up in New Jersey you’d hear Bruce Springsteen announce his yearly residency at the Meadowlands. They would flat out announce on August 8th, he’s playing Nebraska in its entirety. On the 12th, only hits, the 15th, deep cuts. And I would always think, why haven’t more bands adopted this type of approach over the years?
Think about it, if you know going into a show that you’re only getting deep cuts, in a specific city, on a specific night, how many die-hard fans are going to migrate to that show? What about the band not having to travel, or the logistics of not having to move equipment to another city. I’m not saying everyone can do this, but a band like Def Leppard can. Use New York as an example, an acoustic night with only ballads in a small theater like the Iridium, for $200 per ticket, it would sell out. Def Leppard at the Beacon Theater, only playing deep cuts/the heavier side of Def Leppard for $500 per ticket, it would sell out.
Why do an entire 150 date tour, when you could do this in select cities. I would bet that you could do this in ten cities, three to five nights per city. Strategically play cities like New York, London, Tokyo, L.A., Chicago, Vegas, etc., and probably make more money offering an intimate experience with a theme behind each night.
Don’t get me wrong, in an arena, shed, or stadium setting, sure, you have to play the hits to placate to the masses. But if you do a residency in a city, where each night is a separate playlist, I guarantee that a band as special as Def Leppard will have fans flocking in to see them. I realize this is a lot of work. A lot of bands are complacent, and too lazy to learn more than a new song or two per tour. For them its a job, much like your daily routine, they don’t want to stray from the norm.
But if someone like Springsteen, who is older than them, can play three hours plus a night. Or even Metallica who played 80 different songs in four days for their thirtieth anniversary, why can’t more bands do the same?
Read The Entire Interview With Phil Collen here: Why Def Leppard Did Things ‘Completely Different’ on New Live Set