Def Leppard close Download with emotional tribute to drummer

The band play Donington for the first time in 23 years

Def Leppard bought Download 2009 to an end tonight (June 14) with a stirring tribute from frontman Joe Elliott to drummer Rick Allen, speaking of his “spiritual rebirth” when the band last played the Donington site in 1986.

After a lively ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’, Elliott told the crowd at the Main Stage how the band first played Donington at the Monsters Of Rock festival 23 years ago. The gig was Rick Allen‘s comeback gig after having his arm amputated following a serious car accident at the end of 1984.

The Download crowd cheered and applauded Allen, who stood up behind his drums and raised his arm before wiping tears from his eyes. Elliott then accused him of “blubbing all over his cymbals”.

Coming onstage at 8.45pm [BST] the band played old favourites such as ‘Photograph’ and ‘Animal’ as well as newer material from 2008’s ‘Songs From The Sparkle Lounge’, including ‘Nine Lives’ – which was written in Nashville with country music star Tim McGraw – and ‘C’mon C’mon’.

The Sheffield band also played their version of David Essex‘s ‘Rock On’ from 2006’s covers album ‘Yeah!’. The song began with a bass solo from Rick Savage, who was wearing an open leather shirt and playing a five-stringed bass with a Union Jack painted on it.

Towards the beginning of the set Elliott spoke about how good it was to be able to play in daylight and told the crowd to turn around and look back at themselves and the tens of thousands of people on the site. “It’s amazing from where I’m standing,” he said.

The band bought the show to an end with a two-song encore, starting with ‘When Love & Hate Collide’, for which they were joined on keyboards by Dick Decent, who was a member of the Cybernauts side-project with Elliott and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen.

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Def Leppard played:
‘Rocket’
‘Action’
‘C’mon C’mon’
‘Make Love Like A Man’
‘Too Late For Love’
‘Nine Lives’
‘Love Bites’
‘Rock On’
‘Two Steps Behind’
‘Bringin’ On The Heartbreak’
‘Switch 625’
‘Hysteria’
‘Animal’
‘Armageddon It’
‘Photograph’
‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’
‘Rock Of Ages’
‘When Love & Hate Collide’
‘Let’s Get Rocked’

Def Leppard at Download festival 2009 – watch the video:

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