Def Leppard’s Phil Collen Goes Deep With Delta Deep: Photo Gallery
More than a year ago, when Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen first performed with soul high-priestess singer Debbie Blackwell-Cook, he knew something special had happened. Building on the concept, Collen also brought aboard drummer Forrest Robinson and Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo. The result is a brand-new eponymous album which features a wildly diverse and edgy blend of bluesy, ultra soulful rockers and ballads that also occasionally stray into some fairly muscular hard rock.
Delta Deep's debut live performance, held June 17, 2015 at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, Calif., delivered a sweaty and searing set that rocked the place to its foundation. The set featured the same kind of fiery, funky energy that crackles throughout the new album. Songs including "Bang the Lid," "Miss Me," "Black Coffee," and "Treat Her Like Candy" emerged as catchy and authentic blues-based gems carved with a modern scalpel. The title track thundered with enough Mississippi mayhem to make one think we were down on Highway 61.
Like any good juke joint, the room was hot and close, thanks to both the tight space and a band that clearly knows how to generate heat. For Phil Collen, it was a chance to break out of the role that people know him best: sultry guitar hero for one of the biggest bands in the world. To that end, he played like his life depended on it. Forget that just days earlier, he was playing stadiums in Europe with Def Leppard. On the cramped stage with his three musical partners, he seemed like a kid in a candy store.
Similarly, DeLeo's bass playing was heavy, hungry and inspired. Robinson kept them all in line as Delta Deep's rhythmic backbone. And out in front of it all, you had Blackwell-Cook, who seemed to be channeling some of the most lusty and passionate voices known to anyone. Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and everyone in between seemed partially present this night. Give Blackwell-Cook credit for knowing not just how to grab an audience, but to take them for the ride of their lives.
Delta Deep resonates with a soulful substance that should be put in front of more people, judging from the reaction this night in Hollywood. This is what happens when sparklingly talented musicians embrace the music that first embraced them.
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