After weeks of rumors, it’s finally official: Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison, and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (as well as late addition Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts) are going on tour together.
“The Stadium Tour” (as it’s officially called) will travel across the U.S. in the summer of 2020. Tour dates and ticket information for all shows can be found here.
Response to the tour has been quite passionate, and many fans have described the collaboration as “awesome,” “epic,” and “amazing.”
I’d like to add another word: Why?
Questioning this tour — specifically, pairing up Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe — may be unpopular, but from a Def Leppard fan perspective, I ask again: Why?
I’m sure some can easily come up with financially-motivated reasons. After all, stadiums are the venue of choice for this portion of the tour, and you can’t spell “revenue” without “venue.”
But I digress.
Let’s REALLY dig deep and delve into this 2020 tour event!
- How Mötley Crüe handled their farewell tour (and their reasoning to validate their reunion).
- Suggesting FIVE Def Leppard tours that would have been much more appealing to their fans.
Do You Really, Really Want To…Do This Tour?
Even though this site is Def Leppard-centric (obviously), that’s not to say yours truly has anything against Mötley Crüe’s catalog of music.
But why pair up Def Leppard with Mötley Crüe, and why do it now?
No doubt this tour package is a concert promoter’s dream. Well-known acts, each with large fan bases who will happily pay to take part in the concert event.
And though I’m not here to speak for Mötley Crüe fans, let’s take a look at their band’s “return” to touring.
Cessation…From The Cessation
If Mötley Crüe hadn’t made such an extravaganza of their “Cessation of Touring” contract — a publicity stunt in hindsight — it might be a bit easier to buy into their return, let alone for this new tour.
Just a bit.
The fact that Mötley Crüe sold THEIR fans on the idea that their previous tour was most certainly their last — thus creating wayyy more interest in the “farewell” tour itself — surely stings for some Mötley Crüe followers.
Press conferences with gravestones, posing with their signed “Cessation of Touring” contract, etc., etc., etc.
Mötley Crüe fans traveled from near and far to witness the band’s supposed final shows, buying into (pun intended) the whole farewell circus — including all the inflated in-demand ticket prices, farewell merchandise, and other products (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, etc.) that commemorated “The End.”
That’s NOT to say many aren’t genuinely surprised their farewell tour was for not, but that doesn’t mean some of their fans don’t feel duped, sadly, at the expense of their own band.
And who can blame them, especially when Mötley Crüe’s members REPEATEDLY assured everyone that their farewell tour was truly their last?
Some notable quotes from Nikki Sixx:
“There are people in this band who will refuse to ever do it again, and you’re talking to one of them.”
“There is no amount of money that would ever make me do it again because I have such pride in how we’re ending it.”
“We want to have some dignity.” (during the “Cessation of Touring” contract signing)
“If we did agree [to another tour], the way we’ve set it up…we’d have so much egg on our face. We have so much pride that that alone would stop it.”
And just a quick counterpoint to those quotes from Def Leppard’s Phil Collen (from earlier this year):
“We are having an Indian summer and it’s because we have this integrity. We never stopped, actually, in the 40-odd years that the band’s been together. We just keep going through thick and thin, all the bad stuff, good stuff. And I think that shows, and we’re just enjoying this Indian summer.”
Moving right along.
The Dirt on…The Dirt
This article is ultimately about Def Leppard (we’ll get there, I promise), but I need to revisit one of the marketing angles Mötley Crüe has been using to validate their return to touring, in addition to comments made by Mötley Crüe’s manager in recent months.
Mötley Crüe has been saying as a result of the MASSIVE success of the band’s Netflix movie The Dirt, a whole new “generation” of Mötley Crüe fans — who missed out on seeing the band live — are demanding(!) their return.
Ok, let’s go with that for a moment.
How long had it been since Mötley Crüe’s last “farewell” tour date?
Less than four years.
47 months, give or take a few days.
A little over 34,000 hours.
No wonder that iron-clad agreement was blown up — a whole GENERATION of fans missed out on seeing the band last tour in, umm, 2015!
But let’s put that aside.
Was this supposed newfound demand for Mötley Crüe’s return really due to The Dirt‘s “massive” success (and the new tracks added to the film’s soundtrack), which they said resulted in the band becoming “more popular than ever”?
Well, you be the judge, but if that’s really the case, I wonder if they’ll be performing some of those newer tracks live for the “legion of new fans” who only know them from The Dirt.
Maybe Mötley Crüe’s new cover of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” will also make it onto their setlist — after all, it is on The Dirt soundtrack!
Maybe, maybe not.
However, I DO think it would be fitting if their setlist included that one very fitting track off of their Theatre of Pain album. No, not “Home Sweet Home.” Track #4: “Keep Your Eye On The Money.”
Sarcasm aside, there’s absolutely no doubt a large portion of Mötley Crüe fans — new and old — are ecstatic that their band is coming back.
But mixed feelings are understandable too.
And while some question Vince Neil’s vocal abilities, if Mötley Crüe truly feels their return is due to overwhelming fan demand, it’s absolutely their decision and prerogative.
More power to them.
Let Mötley Crüe be Mötley Crüe.
But why pull Def Leppard into this tour scenario?
Obviously, it’s a rhetorical question. Neither band is being forced to tour together.
But would a stadium tour have been warranted if Mötley Crüe went out on their own reunion tour?
Ahh, maybe that gargantuan legion of new fans from The Dirt isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. (Discussing The Dirt during an interview, Mötley Crüe’s manager Allen Kovac touted “tens of millions of people saw the film,” adding “I think the data is equal to The Irishman“…yet The Dirt wasn’t even included in Netflix’s Top 10 most popular movies of 2019, which included The Irishman at #5.)
Separately, Poison’s Bret Michaels said in an interview that he worked on making the tour with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe happen “for years.” If true, that also doesn’t mesh with the narrative that Mötley Crüe reconsidered their “Cessation of Touring” only after The Dirt‘s success.
I think some Mötley Crüe fans would have been more accepting if the band was more on the level about why they’re returning.
Why not go back out on the road with their own “Sorry, We F’d Up. We’re Back!” or “Nevermind!” tour?
Some honesty and levity would probably go a long way.
Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe: Who’s REALLY Headlining?
A rumor that floated around the web prior to the official tour announcement was that Mötley Crüe would be headlining “The Stadium Tour.”
Since then, it’s been announced that it will be a “co-headlining tour” with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe switching off on who closes the show in certain cities.
“Headlining” is a subjective term though — realistically, it’s the bands’ paydays (among other things) that will ultimately determine which band is TRULY considered and rewarded as the headliner.
Based on information that made the rounds online prior to the tour’s announcement, it was revealed that the concert payday will be 2-to-1 in favor of Mötley Crüe over Def Leppard.
It’s interesting (and not surprising) to see how a more balanced approach is being taken publicly, alternating band logo placement in marketing materials.
For example, Def Leppard’s official newsletter announcement — Top placement for Def Leppard!
While in other instances, Mötley Crüe receives prime (top left) placement when the bands’ logos are shown together:
After all, it’s a “co-headlining” tour, right?
Just a minute.
Did you notice which band is listed first in the tour’s official press release announcement?
How about the poster art which was included with the tour’s official press release?
Top left priority placement went to…Mötley Crüe.
Ok, how about having a “neutral” party be the deciding factor?
Live Nation (the concert’s promoter) sent out an e-mail about the tour’s announcement.
Which band received priority (top left) placement in Live Nation’s e-mail graphic AND message?
Don’t think for a minute that any of these placements are random.
All of these materials are thought through extensively, legally decided and approved.
So what does this mean?
It means that Mötley Crüe and their management are marketing geniuses: they’re non-farewell farewell tour splendidly worked to their advantage — they monetized the farewell to the hilt AND generated a whole new level of interest to exploit “reuniting” just a few years later.
They even made sure to time “The Stadium Tour” announcement with a newly created social media hashtag (presented in the form of an IMAGE to reinforce wanting fans to share the hashtag and get it trending) saying “Mötley Crüe is Back.”
So if the payday ratios that circulated on the web are true — and why shouldn’t they be, when Def Leppard is put in a position of being “just” a band that tours regularly (i.e. no break-up or reunion drama to increase demand) — then Mötley Crüe’s “newsworthy” return undoubtedly translates into more concert promoter interest (and, thus, more money).
The Real Dirt on The Dirt
I find it interesting that Mötley Crüe’s manager had been touting his band’s successes in recent months (before the tour announcement), specifically calling out how bands from the ’80s like Def Leppard and Poison were no longer on the radio charts, and only a few select bands from that era still have that ability, namely Metallica…and the “reinvention” of Mötley Crüe.
So let’s REALLY take a look at the recent success Mötley Crüe has enjoyed, and whether that popularity is potentially…inflated.
The Dirt soundtrack (an album mostly comprised of the band’s greatest hits) debuted on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart at #10. (It was the band’s first top 10 album in more than a decade.)
In its first week, 15,000 albums of the soundtrack were sold, and after mixing in digital sales, the total came out to a little less than 30,000 units in equivalent album sales.
For sake of comparison, Def Leppard’s last studio album (the self-titled Def Leppard) sold 30,000 copies in its first week. It was also a top 10 album but was comprised of all-new music (not a greatest hits release).
Following The Dirt Netflix premiere, there was boasting that the band’s catalog album sales soared 683% (according to Billboard), but let’s put that in perspective by calling out another data point that is conveniently overlooked: Billboard also noted that the band’s album sales THE WEEK PRIOR TO THE PREMIERE totaled…only 2,000 units.
So a catalog sales increase of nearly 700% is quite impressive…but much less so when it’s calculated off of a base that’s practically non-existent.
Got to love marketing and PR spin!
The movie’s title song “The Dirt (Est. 1981)” ended up reaching the top 10 on Billboard’s niche Mainstream Rock Songs chart. (Mötley Crüe last appeared on that chart’s Top 10 with “Saints of Los Angeles,” which achieved an even higher rank, reaching #5 in 2008.)
I’m going to stop there in terms of chart analysis even though further points can be made to dispute Mötley Crüe’s stance about them being “more popular than ever” as a result of The Dirt.
In the end, Mötley Crüe can do as they please, and they can go about their reunion with whatever storyline they feel suits them best, but from a Def Leppard perspective, it is so unnecessary for the boys from Sheffield to partake in the spectacle.
Def Leppard: Welcome To The Carnival
Def Leppard practically tours yearly nowadays, riding the wave of a resurgence that’s elevated the band to a whole new level of notoriety four decades into their career.
Not having an opening act afforded Def Leppard the opportunity to have more stage time to introduce more (and deeper) tracks into their set.
This also helped refresh the band’s live show and added a slightly new edge, especially for fans who frequently see them on tour.
A Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe tour (“co-headlining” or not) puts limitations on Def Leppard’s setlist once again, as they’ll have a shorter timeslot (likely 90 minutes or less) to work from, regardless of which band closes out the show.
And that’s a shame.
Joe Elliott confirmed this in a recent interview with RollingStone.com:
“We’re not going to be digging into deep tracks, album cuts, and obscure B-sides like we tended to do when we did the Vegas residencies.”
He also went on to describe the 2020 stadium tour this way:
“We’re trying to turn these shows into a mini-festival… we’re all from the same genre. Most people that like that kind of thing saw us day after day on MTV in the Eighties. Our journeys have gone in different directions since then, but synchronicity pulls us back together once again.”
The word “synchronicity” really stands out in Joe’s comment, and therein lies another point worth making.
There’s no doubt Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe have crossover fans, but I wouldn’t call putting these two bands on tour together a match made in heaven.
Other bands would have meshed much better with Def Leppard and their fanbase, all the while creating a high-profile tour attraction.
So without further ado, let’s have some fun…and imagine what could have been better options.
Dear Def Leppard & Your Management…
I would like to propose several other Def Leppard tour packages that would have been just as — if not, more — appealing to Def Leppard fans.
1) Def Leppard and Bon Jovi
If ever there were two bands that have lived in parallel universes in terms of career success, along with A LOT of crossover fans, this would have been the ultimate “Eighties” ticket.
I know many passionate fans take sides in a Def Leppard vs. Bon Jovi match up, and there is a spirited, friendly competition between the two bands, but there’s no denying touring together would have complemented one another’s body of work AND their fanbases.
It would be newsworthy, memorable, and definitely provide a lot of excitement…and synchronicity!
2) Def Leppard and Whitesnake
The Leppard and the Snake unite.
It’s been done internationally, so why not a full-fledged U.S. tour?
Pairing up the two bands would not only be a powerhouse concert lineup, it would also be a must-see tour for both bands’ collective fanbases.
By the way, I have no issue with Poison (or Joan Jett & The Blackhearts) being part of next year’s summer tour. That said, I would also have no issue with including other bands in their place to make this type of hypothetical tour event even more special.
There are plenty of noteworthy bands to choose from that concertgoers would love to see be part of a Def Leppard/Whitesnake (or Bon Jovi) tour: Cinderella, Skid Row (with Sebastian Bach returning, of course), L.A. Guns, Tesla, etc.
Take your pick!
A tour package overflowing with “synchronicity.”
3) Def Leppard, Queen, and The Struts
How about a more unique tour package that would reward multiple generations of glam rock fans?
Def Leppard has spoken countless times about Queen’s musical influence. To have Queen be part of a Def Leppard tour, performing the songs beloved by so many fans (including Def Leppard!) would be a wonderful, celebratory event in and of itself.
That’s why it would also be so fitting if The Struts — a band Joe Elliott has sung the praises of countless times — were the opening act.
Co-headliners Queen (with Adam Lambert, of course) would take it from there to celebrate the band’s unforgettable body of work, and, most notably, Freddie Mercury’s legacy.
And what better way to follow that up with Def Leppard closing out the night? Better yet, have Brian May — a great friend of the band, who also inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — join Def Leppard for a song or two to cap off the night?
Unique, unforgettable, crackling with glam rock energy, and something many fans would thoroughly enjoy being a part of.
“We Will, We Will Rock You…Till You Drop!”
4) Def Leppard and Scorpions
If you want a solid, straightforward tour package, how about Def Leppard teaming up with Scorpions?
How fitting would it have been if Def Leppard — who once opened for Scorpions in 1980 in support of their On Through The Night album — returned the favor just in time for the 40th anniversary of that very album’s release?
Call it the “The Rhythm of Love Bites Tour.”
How about “Rocket Like A Hurricane Tour”?
Ok, kidding aside, the point is there would be a great synergy — from the music, to the bands, to the fans in attendance. All would complement each other.
Now let’s change gears for just a moment, mostly to make a different point.
Def Leppard and…Journey?
Def Leppard and Journey already hooked up for a very successful “stadium tour.”
Their 2018 tour grossed nearly $100 million and sold over 1 million tickets.
How about Journey reuniting with Steve Perry and going out on tour with Def Leppard? Now THAT would be a completely different Def Leppard and Journey tour!
But, wait, you know what?
A Journey/Steve Perry reunion tour wouldn’t necessarily need Def Leppard on the bill: Steve Perry reuniting with Journey could survive — and thrive! — touring on their own.
Because, in all honesty, neither band needs “a Def Leppard” on their bill.
Which brings us full circle: Mötley Crüe should not have to be on a shared bill with Def Leppard. They should be able to go at it alone — after all, they’re “more popular than ever,” right?
That being said, the same applies to Def Leppard: They can go at it alone, too.
This brings us to the fifth and final proposed tour, and it’s in response to those that have called the Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Joan Jett tour a welcomed “nostalgia act.”
There’s a MUCH better notalgic option for Def Leppard fans…
5) Def Leppard: In-The-Round Again
Have Def Leppard return to their infamous and unforgettable in-the-round stage show.
So many concertgoers who experienced it decades ago loved it, while newer generations of fans missed out and never had the chance to witness it themselves.
Well, this would be their chance.
While we’re at it, bring back any number of the bands that were part of Def Leppard’s Hysteria tour days to be part of this extravaganza: Tesla, Cinderella, L.A. Guns, Europe.
That would be quite a must-see event.
Granted, an in-the-round concert is physically challenging for Def Leppard — it was even a workout back in their Hysteria tour days — but this proposed in-the-round return is NOT based around a massive 200+ date tour that lasts years.
It could be treated as a limited-time event, spaced out to provide the band with adequate rest between dates and arenas — that’s right, arenas, not stadiums. Arenas will allow the band to reach more cities (and fans) who can partake in this special event.
I can go on about some of the exciting, jaw-dropping, nostalgic things Def Leppard could do to REALLY amplify this type of in-the-round event, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
In the end, no matter the age of Def Leppard’s concertgoers, an in-the-round stage show would be worth experiencing at least one last time…for the band and their fans.
Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe Tour: Final Thoughts
If you’ve read any number of articles on this site, you know Def Leppard’s “brand” — and whether business decisions made over the years — has been analyzed and sometimes even scrutinized.
I assure you, it’s all coming from a good place.
That being said, I truly believe any of the proposed tours listed above would reward and positively benefit Def Leppard and their legacy, not to mention their fans.
Unfortunately, and with all due respect, I believe the Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe “co-headlining” tour dings Def Leppard a bit, in that it doesn’t allow the band to shine to the full potential they’ve earned and deserve, especially at this point in their career.
From a financial perspective, I get it, a stadium tour is “best for business” and a no-brainer; many fans will purchase tickets and you can’t blame them for wanting to see their favorite band(s). I’m sure most will thoroughly enjoy the experience too.
But it didn’t have to be this way.
Mötley Crüe SHOULD have known better, from the narrative they fed their fans about never touring again to whatever reasoning they’re using now for reuniting.
But Def Leppard COULD have done better for themselves and their fans.
There were better touring options worth exploring.
Much, much better.