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Collen: Def Lep at Download was 'out of body experience'

Guitarist Phil says 2009 headline set tops 32 years of touring

Def Leppard's Phil Collen has recalled his "out of body experience" while headlining the Download festival in 2009 - and says the show tops his 32 years of touring with the band.

The guitarist fondly remembers playing the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley in 1992, and delivering their first-ever UK stadium show in their home city of Sheffield the following year.

But Collen tells Music Radar: “The best might be when we headlined Download. It was just one of those gigs where all the stars lined up beautifully. The audience was massive – 85,000 people – and the weather was perfect.

"During our set the sun went down, and the view from the stage was spectacular. From the very first note, we played our asses off; everybody was totally on their game and the sound was spot-on.

“This has happened to me about five or six times in my life – I feel as though I’m having an out of body experience. Somebody else is playing the show, and I’m channeling that person. That was Download.”

The show also raised memories of Def Lep's 1986 appearance at Download's predecessor, Monsters Of Rock – their return to action with drummer Rick Allen after he lost his left arm in a car crash.

Collen remembers: “We got a standing ovation. People were crying and sending such joy and appreciation to the stage. To come back to the same stage all that time later and be welcomed as returning heroes was an incredible feeling. 

“If you get even one gig like that in your lifetime, that’s pretty cool.”

Collen's bandmate Vivian Campbell is back home following his stem-cell treatment for cancer. Def Lep are aiming to complete work on their tenth studio album early next year. The 2015 edition of Download will be headlined by Kiss, Muse and Slipknot.

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