Leppard star Joe has high Hoops for band

Joe Elliott's Down'n'Outz performing at Sheffield City Hall
Joe Elliott's Down'n'Outz performing at Sheffield City Hall

Legendary Sheffield rocker Joe Elliott takes to the stage in the Steel City tonight - but not in front of thousands with his Def Leppard bandmates.

Instead, the veteran singer will be bringing his Down’n’Outz to play in front of a few hundred people.

However, the 55-year-old Sheffield United fan admits he is excited to return to his hometown.

“Everyime I go back it’s changed so much,” he says.

“When I was young, I couldn’t get out quick enough. Every factory was shutting down – it looked depressing.

“Now I go back, see the developments – it’s very cool and so different.”

Having made his home in Ireland for 30 years, he admits he does not miss living in the Steel City – even if he misses his beloved Blades.

“I can’t say I miss living in Sheffield, but I do enjoy going back,” he says. “I’ll see all my friends.

“I see the Sheffield United highlights every Saturday night.”

And, Joe says, Sheffield shows are always special.

“When Leppard are on tour, the one gig where your shackles are off is Sheffield Arena, because it’s our hometown,” he explains.

“We are always going to be supportive and defensive of it.

“I am really looking forward to coming.”

And he admits he is excited by the change in his normal venue – from fronting Leppard in cavernous Arenas housing thousands of people, to playing small, dark clubs with room for just a few hundred with his Down’n’Outz.

“It’s very different, but good,” he says.

“I’m hoping Leppard are destined to stay playing in Arenas for the rest of its life, it’s what we love doing, but at the same time, it’s not the Limit Club in Sheffield or the Troubadour in Los Angeles, and there is something very cool about these places.”

Down’n’Outz features Joe, drummer Phil Martini, and a trio of members from The Quireboys – guitarists Paul Geurin and Guy Griffin and keyboard player Keith Weir.

They formed five years ago when 1970s rock band Mott The Hoople reformed and asked Joe, a long-time friend and fan, to get involved.

Joe says: “The truth is, Mott The Hoople were my boyhood band. I don’t know what it was, but there was something I liked, the atmosphere, the images, the songs.

“I was fully into their first four records before All the Young Dudes. There was something about Mott The Hoople – they were my band.

“As much as I loved The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Mott were something a bit different.”

The Down’n’Outz concentrate on covering bands and artists related to Mott the Hoople including Mott, British Lions and Ian Hunter.

Joe says: “Down’n’Outz is us doing something people aren’t familiar with.

“There’ll be Quireboys fans, Mott the Hoople fans, Def Leppard fans, not a lot fans who know every word to every song – but that doesn’t mean to say we can’t win them over.

“A lot of people question my reasons for doing this, but it’s for all the right reasons.

“It’s doing something a bit different. It’s not going to make me rich or poor, I just feel a lot of these songs have been ignored for too long.

“Songs like Angels, they’re just great songs that are not heard enough.”

“It’s the six of us, performing Mott The Hoople tracks and a couple of others. They’re all crackers, all great sounds.”

But despite the success of Down’n’Outz, Joe remains committed to Def Leppard – and revealed the band are likely to play Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena next year.

“We’re in the middle of a new album,” he says. “I am recording my part, just taking a break at the moment and then we’ll get back together in January.

“Then we’re out on the road starting in April. There will be a UK tour and the Leppard will play in Sheffield, because we always do – that’s the one we want to do.

“In 2006, we only played two shows in the UK and one was Sheffield.”