Music

Def Leppard brings ‘Rock of Ages’ to Xfinity Center

Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott says being in a rock band as long as he has “is a gift, and I think a lot of people forget that.”
Maryanne Bilham
Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott says being in a rock band as long as he has “is a gift, and I think a lot of people forget that.”

The summer concert landscape is dotted with multi-band packages, helping to increase bang for the music fan’s buck. Thursday’s show at the Xfinity Center should offer plenty of bang with the trio of British power-pop rockers Def Leppard, indefatigable Midwesterners Styx, and ’80s hard rockers Tesla teaming up for a night of melody, power chords, and camaradarie. From “Signs” and “Love Song” through “Come Sail Away” and “Renegade” to “Rock of Ages” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” it should be a fun night for sing-alongs in Mansfield.

Especially good news for Def Leppard fans is the fact that guitarist Vivian Campbell will be on hand, after fearing that a return of his cancer might keep him away from tour’s first part. We recently chatted with the always voluble and amiable Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott from a tour stop in Charlotte.

Q. First things first: How is Vivian?

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A. He’s great! He joined up with us just before the last show in Atlanta, which was a great time for him to come back, because it was a 17,000 [person] sell-out, so it was a really good welcoming party for him. You can’t beat that, can you? It’s better than playing a bowling alley. [Laughs] We were very happy to have him back, of course, and he’s in really good spirits.

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Q. Since Def Leppard has toured with Styx in the past, are you old hands at sharing the stage?

A. Oh, god, yeah, and a lot of other things. The stories, the banter is fantastic! I mean, I saw Styx at the Sheffield Top Rank in 1977 on the “Grand Illusion” tour when I was like a 16-year-old kid. Their history, well, we’re all well aware of what it is, but as people [Styx singer-songwriter-guitarists] Tommy Shaw and JY are just two of the greatest guys you’ll ever hang out with. [Styx bassist] Ricky [Phillips] played with Coverdale-Page, he was in the Babys, you know, the stories that he can tell when you play golf, you’d never get your golf in! [Laughs] And the Tesla guys as well, let’s not forget we toured with them on the “Hysteria” tour. They’re like us, they’re 4/5 the original lineup. It’s a testimony to their inner strength that they’ve stood through it all, and they’re still out there in one fashion or another doing what they do.

Q. You always try to mix a few deeper cuts in with the hits — how do you pick those?

A. We try not to play stuff that we played last year or the year before in terms of what we call the B section of the set. The A section of the set, which is the gold nuggets, you can’t leave the building without playing them, and rightfully so — I don’t want to see the Stones not play “Satisfaction” and “Brown Sugar” or go see McCartney and not hear “Let It Be.” In the B section of the set we try to mix it up a little bit. You’ve got every chance when we come back around next year that you’ll get a completely different set, because it will be time to play some things off the new record.

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Q. Is the record done at this point?

A. We’ve done our bit, yeah! [Laughs]

Q. And do you have a title yet?

A. We’re just calling it “Def Leppard.”

Q. Your first self-titled album.

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A. Yeah, we’ve never done it. Some of our closest friends we’ve played it for have said, “It really sounds like Def Leppard.” There’s no point in trying to get fancy for the sake of it. It always makes me giggle when you see interviews with people who’ve got album titles before they’ve got the songs written! Surely you wait for the child to be born before you come up with a name for it? It’s one of those things for us that is important in the way a horse’s name is important: As long as it wins the race, it doesn’t really matter what it’s called. After 35 years of being a band, if people don’t know who we are by now, we’re not going to win them over.

Q. So it’s in line with the classic sound?

A. You know, what is Def Leppard? If someone put a gun to my head and said, “Sum yourself up in 10 seconds,” I’d say pop-rock. Three-four minute pop-rock songs, three-four chords, massive choruses, huge drum sound, loads of guitars, very melodic, tons of harmonies on the chorus. That’s what we grew up listening to and influenced us to want to be in a band. Why would we grow up listening to Bowie, Bolan, Slade, Sweet, Queen, and then turn out to be a band that sounds like Leonard Cohen?

Q. Phil has a book coming out later this year. Are you worried about anything in it?

A. I’m not worried about the book, because there’s really no dirt between me and Phil as such. The only dirt that I could imagine he could throw was when we were going through our severe drinking, drugging, and women years when we were very young and stupid. [Laughs] And everybody knows about that, anyway, and if they don’t, they’re about to learn.

Q. You’ve also always struck me as a group whose members still seem to truly like each other.

A. We do. This is a gift, and I think a lot of people forget that. I think a lot of people have their head up their [expletive] when it comes to, “Oh, I am a rock star and a god.” We know people who have played bowling alleys, that have got three security guards and have places closed down so they can walk into them and [shop]. And it’s like, What are you doing? We’ve never been that way. We get on fine because we’re all on the same page. One day we might not be, but for 35 years, we’ve been pretty much all on the same page at the same time. We’re all aware that we’re a team, and we’re nothing without the parts.

Def Leppard

With Styx and Tesla

At: Xfinity Center, Mansfield, Thursday at 7 p.m.

Tickets: $25-$138. 800-745-3000, www.livenation.com

Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at srodman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeRodman.