Def Leppard – Mirror Ball (album review)

Def Leppard: Mirrorball – Live & More (Bludgeon/Riffola – Walmart Exclusive)  CD review   by Josh Steel

‘Mirrorball’ is the new live set from Def Leppard, chronicling their 2008-09 “Sparkle Lounge” tour. If you had the chance to see one of these shows, as I did, you will quickly realize that this is a quite accurate representation of those shows. Live albums have historically been overdubbed so much in the studio, that oftentimes the finished product bears little resemblance to the actual performed material. I am happy to say that this is not the case here.

Yes, that does mean that you will hear the cracks in Joe Elliott’s higher register, but bear in mind that no singer is going to hit the same notes at 50 as they did at 20 or 30. If you have seen Def Leppard live, then you know that they always deliver a top-notch live show, and that is well documented here. The only thing that’s missing is the visual, and that is nicely presented on the DVD, but more on that later.

Def Leppard has always been a band that gives their fans the hits live, and all of the big ones are here. However, some of the highlights come in the lesser-known songs, or in different arrangements of the hits. Among the standouts are: “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak,” which is performed acoustically for the first half, then kicks into electric for the last half. That’s followed by the 3 minute guitar instrumental “Switch 625.”  “Pour Some Sugar On Me” gets the benefit of the added power of a live performance, as does their cover of the 1974 David Essex (or 1989 Michael Damian, if you’re an 80’s kid like me) song “Rock On,” which the band deliver an absolute top notch version of.

In addition to the 21 live tracks, they’ve also included 3 new songs:”‘Undefeated,” written by Elliott, is quite simply the best song that they’ve done in 12 years. This is quintessential Def Leppard; the thumping bass line, the guitars, and the harmonies, all of the things that a Leppard fan loves about their music. “Kings Of The World” is an operatic departure written by bassist Rick Savage that is reminiscent of classic Queen. “It’s All About Believin’,” written by lead guitarist Phil Collen, is a mid-tempo song that is somewhere between a power ballad and a light rocker.

The true gem of this collection is undoubtedly the DVD, which includes behind the scenes footage of the tour (though not enough), as well as concert video performances of 4 songs, which provide a nice visual compliment to the audio CDs.

All in all, a must have for the collection of any loyal Lep fan, as well as a nice introduction to the live sound of Def Leppard for those uninitiated. (4 out 5 stars)