What Joe Elliott Learned From the Stadium Tour
In a recent interview with Classic Rock, he explained how his band’s approach to performing changed as the road trip continued and reflected that “nothing too crazy” took place on the way.
“At the start of the tour we were doing four new songs, but we realized that was one too many,” Elliott said. “You live and learn. Three in 90 minutes is fine. Stadium shows are not open-mic nights. Stadiums are like churches – you go there to celebrate. So you play it like a Rolling Stones or [Paul] McCartney set. You get into the home straight and it’s all hits – bang, bang, bang! And that’s why this tour was so successful - because it was like a human jukebox.”
But he was pleased Def Leppard had opened their set with the new song “Take What You Want,” saying, “It was a mission statement, our way of saying this is not a victory lap. Doing the opening number, your adrenalin is off the charts. It’s magic. You have to stand where I stand to really feel what that’s like. So we had the crowd lit up. It’s a ‘Hi, we’re back!’ moment, and it’s a new song. That was pretty special.”
He hailed Jett and Poison for energetic shows that brought crowds to a frenzy but revealed an unexpected payoff: “Then you’ve got us and Motley, whoever went on first. And sometimes there was an argument that going on third was better because the audience wasn’t as tired!”
Elliott went on to recall: that he “asked Nikki [Sixx] what he was going to do when we had a break in the tour and he said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ Now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d hear from the mouth of Nikki Sixx! But he was the only one I spent much time with. We know the guys from Poison really well, but I never saw Bobby Dall throughout the whole tour. And the few times I saw Joan, we were always going in different directions between the dressing rooms and the stage on these golf carts, so we’d high-five as we passed.”
Def Leppard’s only health issue came when guitarist Phil Collen “broke his hand doing a Pete Townshend windmill,” Elliott said. “So for the last two weeks, he had two fingers taped together – luckily on his pick hand, so it didn’t affect his playing, although it was painful.”
Elliott added that “the big thing for me was I didn’t lose my voice or face-plant onstage. Because everything is on YouTube now, you’re always aware that you’ve got to be at the top of your game. Here’s what happens if you’re a singer: If you screw up, everybody knows about it, but if you do a good job, nobody knows about it. The only time anybody puts anything online is when you’re shit. And I managed to avoid that, so for me, that’s a raging success!”