Following the Def Leppard Cruise that sailed from Miami in January, the British classic-rock band came ashore for its latest American tour.
The tour lands at the Cajundome in Lafayette on Wednesday. Like the 50-city North American tour Def Leppard played in 2015, Styx and Tesla are opening acts.
For Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen, the show, the songs and the audience are as thrilling as ever.
“People ask me if singing ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ is like watching paint dry,” Collen said. “No! Not when people sing it back to you! It’s a wonderful thing. It’s why you’re in a band in the first place. Every night, I get so excited.”
Collen revels further in Def Leppard’s onstage authenticity.
“All of our vocals are real, not a Pro Tools session,” he said. “Others kind of fake it, but we work really, really hard. It’s something we’re proud of.”
Collen and the other members of Def Leppard — singer Joe Elliott, guitarist Vivian Campbell, bassist Rick “Sav” Savage and drummer Rick Allen — were similarly enthusiastic when they recorded their 11th album last year. The spontaneous and fun sessions for the new self-titled release took place at Elliott’s home studio in Dublin, Ireland.
“Honestly, it was the easiest album we’ve ever made,” Collen said. “And it was probably the most inspired. We went into the studio to write one song, and then we couldn’t stop writing. We didn’t have any barriers.
“When it comes to the music, we all believe in what we do 100 percent. We lived the dream out, writing these songs.”
Def Leppard’s long, continuing run began in 1977 in Sheffield, England. In the 1980s, the group’s hard rock songs and albums exploded onto the world’s pop charts.
The hits — “Photograph,” “Love Bites,” “Hysteria,” “Rock of Ages,” “Foolin’ ” and “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” — have since risen to classic rock status. The albums “Pyromania” and “Hysteria” each sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. The band’s worldwide record sales have surpassed 100 million.
Collen joined Def Leppard in the early 1980s, replacing original guitarist Pete Willis just before the 1983 release of “Pyromania.” Def Leppard soon became one of the world’s biggest rock bands, but it was far from a major act when Collen joined.
“We were playing half-empty theaters and big clubs, opening for larger bands,” he remembered.
Then “Pyromania,” released 33 years ago, gave Def Leppard a ticket to stardom.
“MTV started playing ‘Photograph,’ ” Collen said. “That was the moment that changed everything.”
Collen played his first show with Def Leppard in London at the 500-capacity Marquee Club. Nine months later, the headlining Def Leppard performed for 55,000 at a U.S. stadium.
Collen and everyone else in the band felt like they’d won the lottery.
“It was like nothing we’d experienced before,” the guitarist recalled. “It was like the pop frenzy you see with One Direction or Justin Bieber. But it could have gone the other way. We could have been an eternal support band. But ‘Pyromania’ kicked in.”
More than three decades later, Def Leppard remains a major concert attraction.
“Some bands fold up under the most amazingly egotistical nonsense,” Collen said. “We don’t have that. It’s partly because we’re not finished yet. I think the new album proves that.
“We’ve still got something to say. Still got places to play. Still got people to impress. And we’re having a great time doing it.”