Def Leppard recently played a residency in Las Vegas this past year, joining bands like Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses who have also taken modified versions of their shows to Sin City. The show was well-received and significant as the Def Leppard boys played a lot of classic material, including their gargantuan hit album “Hysteria” in its entirety. Thankfully, if you weren’t able to make it to one of the shows the band captured the essence of those performances on this new release on Frontiers Records, available on DVD, Blu-Ray or the Deluxe Edition 2CD/DVD set. I wasn’t able to preview a copy of the actual DVD or Blu-Ray but was given an MP3 of the audio portion of the show. The fact that I am so high on this release while being totally ignorant of the video portion of the show (which is the FIRST Def Leppard release in High Definition) speaks volumes of just how powerful the audio portion of this show is.
Aside from the DVD/Blu Ray, the release is split in two CD’s, the first being the “Hysteria” portion of the show which, to me, is the biggest surprise of “Viva! Hysteria”. Anyone who was there for the original release of the album is aware of the cultural impact the record had on rock and pop radio and anyone alive today has heard “Armageddon It” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” to the point of overkill. To be honest, much of this material was overplayed back in the day and continues to be in my opinion so the obvious draw of this disc is the inclusion of killer live versions of the deeper album tracks like “Don’t Shoot Shotgun”, “Gods Of War”, etc. Oddly, the most amazing thing about the first disc of this album is the uncanny way Def Leppard breathes new life into those megahits like “Love Bites”, “Animal” and yes, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”. I am admittedly kind of partial to the old school production and less processed nature of the band’s early albums like “On Through The Night” and “High and Dry” so I really prefer the live version of “Hysteria” supplied here over the mega glossy original. Phil and Vivian’s guitar parts on the live version of the title track, “Hysteria”, for instance, are just amazing, creative and yet faithful to the original compositions. Rick Savage’s contributions are ever present here both vocally and with his fluid basslines and vocalist Joe Elliot’s performance is spot on on “Women” (as well as the entire package). The real gem of both of these discs may be that Rick Allen’s drums sound much better in 2013 than they did even in 1988 on the classic “Live In The Round” performance. The Vegas shows featured the band “opening up” for themselves billed as Ded Flatbird, performing two different sets and that is where the old school Def Leppard fans are really catered to here with an amazing Disc 2.
It would be an understatement to say the band reached back for these performances, practically performing “High and Dry” in ITS entirety with 7 songs represented here to spectacular effect. It’s amazing to hear what Phil and Vivian do with these songs (as well as even earlier tracks “Rock Brigade” and “Wasted”) considering they didn’t play on the originals. The album features classics from “Pyromania” (“Stagefright” “Rock Of Ages”), “Adrenalize” (“Promises”) and even the title track from 1996’s “Slang” thrown in for good measure along with their most recent radio hit “Undefeated”. Incidentally, “Undefeated” was culled from their last live album, 2011’s “Mirror Ball” which was a solid record itself but not nearly on the level of this set. Do yourself a favor and pick up “Viva! Hysteria”, whether you are a Def Leppard diehard or a more casual fan you are most likely going to be blown away by the ramped up energy that makes up this package. Get the deluxe 2cd/dvd here