Right, I suppose I had better declare an interest! After years of hedging my bets and dodging honest answers it’s time to come clean when asked “Who’s your favourite band? What’s your favourite album?”. After years of avoiding the obvious, the answers are dead easy … Def Leppard is the band and “Hysteria” the album. I have bought every album (in some cases in multiple formats) and struggle, unlike many critics, to find one that I dislike. Same with DVDs of the videos, the “In the Round, In Your Face” gigs, etc – I’ve got them all and love them. So, dear reader, I take it you’re thinking “well this is just going to tell us how great you think this is”? The thing is, Def Leppard live has previously posed a major problem for me – having seen them on the Slang tour and then again at Download 2009 I vowed never to see them live again. I still don’t know why (considering I have no issues at all with video footage of the guys live) but those shows left me totally underwhelmed. Then the announcement came that my other favourites, Motley Crue were touring the UK with Steel Panther (hooray!) and, oh no, Def Leppard. Oh well, so much for the vow of never again – tickets were bought and …. all of a sudden Def Leppard live TOTALLY did it for me.
This new release (double CD/DVD package, DVD or Blu-Ray) via the mighty Frontiers Records, sees the five guys from Sheffield (well, ok, three plus a Londoner and a Belfast boy!) in fine fettle, celebrating, the still stupendous, Hysteria 26 years on from the much anticipated release from “that band with the one armed drummer” (as my dear old mum referred to them when she told me excitedly about them when “Animal” was first released). Taking an 11 night, block booking at The Joint in Las Vegas, the idea was simple – perform the whole album, in order, from start to finish. This release is the perfect memento of the shows for those lucky enough to get there and for those stuck back in blighty who appreciate the band for what they do (rather than take pot shots and snide digs about “selling out”) to see what our American cousins got to see.
During September, a limited UK cinema release was given to the main set – yet this only makes up for half of what this bundle of joy brings. The High Definition video (and included CD soundtrack) also includes the opening sets by the support act for the shows, the world’s greatest tribute to Def Leppard, Ded Flatbird (try saying it with a Northern Irish accent) – who look more than just a little familiar! The quality of sound on both CD and DVD is stunning (well it would be, wouldn’t it?) and at last Leppard fans have footage of a live show that is up to a great standard … plus the Ded Flatbird sets sees the boys (oh poop, did I give away a secret?) perform early songs like “Wasted”, ” Good Morning Freedom”, “High and Dry” and more. The whole deal bringing you probably the greatest Def Leppard setlist/show ever.
An all round stunning performance, who bring a quality to harmonies, sound quality, and showmanship that puts bands half their age to shame. Every member of the band gets their spotlight moment, the highlight for me being the shots of the late, great Steve Clark opening up one number – a great touch to show that there is still a place for their mate (to my mind one of the most under rated guitar players ever). The main set has all of the highs of the album and I started to wonder if or how they would do an encore – of course they would, “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph” make the whole track listing complete
So in a nutshell, you guys were right. I love it, it’s brilliant – it’s Def Leppard so it would be! Is it an indispensable addition to your collection? For Leppard freaks – totally, particularly for the film elements (you probably already have “Mirrorball”, but unlike that record, this is much less cobbled together mix of the best versions of songs from a range of shows). For others, maybe less so – but I remember a time (1987, to be exact) when “Hysteria” was THE album to buy – it showed the world how to make pop albums full of well crafted songs, great production and the fact that these guys were British is phenomenal (even if the UK press don’t feel the love and it’s cool to dismiss their success). 26 years later, the songs sound as good as ever and live the guys don’t simply try to replicate the records – but they still sound slick and uber-professional. If you want a lesson in building, maintaining and working on a 30 year career – these are the teachers. Perhaps the folks at X-Factor should show this to the contestants?
So much more than just another DVD or live album – a celebration of one of the greatest albums of the last 30 years. C’mon, get it!
4. Love Bites
5. Pour Some Sugar on Me
6. Armageddon It
7. Gods of War
8. Don’t Shoot Shotgun
9. Run Riot
12. Love and Affection
13. Rock of Ages
1. Good Morning Freedom
4. Mirror Mirror (Look into My Eyes)
6. Rock Brigade
9. On Through the Night
11. Let It Go
12. Another Hit and Run
13. High ‘N’ Dry (Saturday Night)
14. Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
15. Switch 625
“Viva! Hysteria” is released on the 21st October via Frontiers Records