Eagle Rock [Release date 29.05.20]
The geewhizz numbers are overwhelming…twenty billion albums sold. Ok, an exaggeration, but the Def Leppard stats come at you so fast and ferocious that it’s genuinely impossible to absorb the enormity of what this UK band has done, in terms of sales and online streams.
The imminent “Hits Vegas” release is the latest instalment in the band’s Pension Plan… oops sorry, it was recorded on the second leg of their world straddling touring plan.
This recording of the 2 and a ½ hour gig is only one of a suite of forthcoming Multimedia Def Leppard releases from Eagle Rock, involving DVD, CD, Vinyl and Blu-Ray versions of this and other landmark gigs. They comprise the band’s legacy album “Hysteria” recorded live in its entirety at the O2 Arena in 2018, plus a mini documentary, “Hysteria – Then And Now”. The “Hits Vegas” is matched with a “Behind The Scenes” bonus featurette.
We’ve focused on the “Hits Vegas” because… well, because we want to. Maybe because it’s the more exotic of the offerings…
In 2019, the band took up a short term residency at the Vegas venue of Planet Hollywood, you know… the Schwarzenegger, Willis and Stallone venture, and it’s all showbiz, an event rather than a gig. Though, that said, Def Leppard’s stadium sized songs fit perfectly in this 4,500 capacity ‘Zappos Theater’ arena. The stage is breathtakingly huge, like they designed it with Social Distancing in mind. Britney Spears did a 3 year residency there, 5 nights a week at $250 a ticket. Think on that one.
The venue’s sprawling length and high ceiling make it near impossible to create an atmosphere for anyone other than those closest to the stage. But for us, the viewers, producer/director, Jim Yikuch keeps the video moving, using close ups and long shots, with rapidfire, neon lit lasers playing across two huge video walls in a continuous display of colour all throught the set. In high luxury venues like this one, even the lighters wave themselves.
It truly is a value for money performance, with the band delivering a 28 song “deep dive” into their densely packed back catalogue. It’s neat that they follow opener ‘Die Hard The Hunter’ with ‘Animal’, it somehow seems appropriate.
The sound of the crowd initially seems detached from the music being played onstage. But it’s just a matter of tuning in, as moments later a mexican wave of noise rolls through the arena in a delayed action frenzy of enthusiasm..
By third track, ‘Exciteable’, the mix is good, the rhythm section has been brought up and is chiming sweetly and loudly with Collen’s and Campbell’s wall of guitar sound. Elliott has found his voice, we’re loving the gig and looking forward to a two and a half hour immersive experience. Which is exactly what we get. They didn’t pick this gig as their multimedia offering by chance.
Apart from the obvious, one real highlight is worth special mention.. and that’s the band’s five man acoustical jam … achieving any form of genuine intimacy is difficult in any high energy gig, but the band’s acoustic versions of ‘Let Me Be The One’ and ‘Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad’ are absolute standouts and clearly connect with a sizeable core audience fanbase. It suggests a full length album of such treatments should be next on Def Leppard’s agenda. *****
Review by Brian McGowan
Nikk Gunns adds…
“London to Vegas” is the rather superb box set from Def Leppard that includes their 2018 show at London’s O2 and a 28-song set from the band’s 2019 residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Included in this collection are DVDs of each show and a double CD for both, plus a 40 page hardback book.
So, lets look at the “Hysteria At The O2” set first. This gig was one of my favourites in 2018 and found the band performing their massively successful “Hysteria” album in full. You probably don’t need me to remind you of the staggering sales that the album enjoyed, or a rundown of the numerous singles it contained, but let me reassure you that these still sound great today and the stage show lives up to expectations. There is also a video appearance of the late, great (and very much missed) Steve Clark.
After the album is performed, the band also deliver a handful of hits that include “Photograph”, “Let’s Get Rocked”, “Rock of Ages”, “When Love and Hate Collide” and a rare outing for “Wasted”, the latter going down very well with the audience on the night.
However, if you think Def Leppard are a mere nostalgia act then the second show in this set should help you re-appraise that opinion. This mammoth set, “Hits Vegas, Live At Planet Hollywood“, has more of a deep cut feel. Yes, there are the usual set-list staples like “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, “Photograph” and “Rock Of Ages” but you would not go to see a classic band like the Stones and not expect to hear “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Brown Sugar” and “Satisfaction” and the same should be said of a band like Def Leppard, who have now been around for 42 years themselves.
Tracks like “Now”, “Promises”, “Paper Sun” and “Let’s Go” are all good examples of the band’s post “Adrenalize” output and all sound great here – surely I can’t be the only person who likes hearing “Slang” live. There is also a mid-set acoustic segment in the show, featuring “Let Me Be The One”, “We Belong”, “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” and “Two Steps Behind”. Combined with the deeper tracks like “Billy’s Got A Gun”, “Die Hard The Hunter”, “Too Late For Love” and “Mirror, Mirror (Look In To My Eyes)”, this gives the show a great balance.
Bonus material on the DVDs include the “Hysteria: Then And Now” mini-documentary and a behind-the-scenes look at the band’s Vegas stint.
“London to Vegas” finds Def Leppard sounding great, still pulling in big audiences and showing no signs of slowing down. Whilst I cannot recommend this box set highly enough, there are a number of other formats available including digital versions of both audio sets, a CD and vinyl version of the London show and a deluxe edition. *****
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