CD/DVD Review: Def Leppard / Viva! Hysteria
I have been hoping for something like this for so long now. So many bands are taking classic albums and playing them in their entirety both to provide something different for the diehard fan and an added incentive for casual fans to see the band live for the first time. When it comes to Def Leppard, the choice for some might be Pyromania (1983) or even High ‘n’ Dry ( 1981) but there is no denying that Hysteria (1987) was really their landmark album selling over 20 million copies worldwide.
Having seen the band live over the past few years any of these three would be a welcome change to sort of shake the foundation of what was becoming a rather predictable set list from tour to tour. Viva! Hysteria is really the best of both worlds because not only do you get Hysteria played in order from beginning to end but you also get some real gems from the back catalog as the boys played opening sets as “Ded Flatbird” – the best Def Leppard tribute band in all the world. This is what really makes this set special. It’s a long overdue understanding within the Leppard camp that there were once a very heavy hard rock outfit and not just a power pop hair band that wrote some nice ballads and had massive mainstream radio airplay.
Filmed over an eleven show residency the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from March 22-April 13, 2013 this would mark the first time Def Leppard played any of their albums in their entirety from start to finish. The band played a very different set each night before performing Hysteria. Some of those highlights include the entire first side of High ‘n’ Dry including “Let it Go”, ‘Another Hit & Run”, “High ‘n’ Dry”, ‘Bringin on the Heartbreak” and “Switch 625”. Another rarity is “Good Morning Freedom” which was the b-side to the single “Hello America” from their debut record On Through the Night from 1980. Yes! Now we’re talking serious business here.
Also included as an extra on the DVD is an acoustic performance while in Vegas that included the songs “Where Does Love Go When It Dies”, “Now”, “When Love & Hate Collide”, “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?” and “Two Steps Behind”. Joe Elliot really shines here basically running through all five songs without taking a single break or an extra breath! Very well done.
This is the best thing Def Leppard could have done to not only pull an old time fan like myself back who was looking for a little something special and to also pay homage to the past efforts and give them the respect they deserve. Too often in interviews when asked about the older material or for any new effort to record a real heavy rock record these sentiments got shoved under the rug in place of pop-infused newer efforts which just seemed to alienate the older fan base.
In trying to please a greater majority of newer fans who either were not buying the new records in spite of this sort I gave up seeing them live because they played too much newer material. Viva! Hysteria is a winner all the way around. Let’s hope maybe they take this Las Vegas jaunt set list out on the road in 2014 and even take the Ded Flatbrid cover band along for the ride as well. I would also like to see more resurrections for classics like “Too Late For Love”, “Die Hide the Hunter” and “Billy’s Gut A Gun” my favorite Leppard track of all time. Keep this train moving guys and not get derailed again or start to dance back to the Songs from the Sparkle Lounge. Please..not now.