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Friday, 22nd March 2013

Las Vegas, NV - Media Reviews

Def Leppard brings on the memories for eager fans at residency opener By Jason Bracelin

Basically, it was like “Hot Tub Time Machine” with a concert hall in place of a Jacuzzi.

The year: 1987.

That’s when Def Leppard released “Hysteria,” an album with a massive libido and an even bigger production budget that a good portion of the crowd at The Joint at the Hard Rock on Friday probably lost their virginity to 20-odd years ago.

They certainly acted liked it, smiling in perpetuity, mouthing along to every word, dancing in their seats, carrying on like kids who somehow managed to finagle the keys to their parent’s liquor cabinet.

The whole night had the feel of a high school reunion, where past glories are brought into the present and the passing of time is ignored like the bespectacled fellow in one of those ’80s teen comedies way back when “nerd” was still considered a pejorative.

Complete strangers, mostly men, slapped each other high fives with such force that their beers dribbled onto the floor, carrying themselves like proud competitors in the Bud Light Olympics.

Some wore faux mullet wigs; others sported zebra-print Spandex pants.

As for the ladies, there were those that squeezed themselves into leopard-print bodysuits, proving that the sun has still yet to set on the Sunset Strip, that hair metal hot bed of years past whose fashion sense lives on, zombielike.

Together, they partied like “Alf” was still on primetime.

It was the opening night of Def Leppard’s 11-show “Viva Hysteria” residency, but before the band played their signature album front-to-back during their second set, it was time to play “Name that Tune.”

Hey, any decent party needs a good drinking game, right?

Here it was.

So, just what was the first song of the night, that no-frills, concrete-dense rocker powered by a growling, minimalist guitar riff?

Turns out it was “Good Morning Freedom,” a B-side to the “Hello America” single from 1980’s “On Through The Night,” which was never included on any of the band’s studio albums.

Don’t even act like you got that one.


Other seldom played, old-school throwbacks followed like “Wasted,” with its verbose guitar soloing, and “Mirror, Mirror (Look into My Eyes),” which came fattened by a bass line that reverberated like a hammer striking an anvil.

These songs were a reminder that Def Leppard originated on the fringes of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late ’70s, exposing the grit that would later be lasered off like an unwanted tattoo.

The band played more poppier fare as well during their 10-song first set, alternating classic rock radio staples like “Foolin’” and “Bringing on the Heartbreak” with wistful power ballad “When Love & Hate Collide,” from the band’s 1995 greatest hits album “Vault,” and the Cheap Trick-worthy “Promises,” from 1999’s “Euphoria.”

But these tunes felt wan and slight compared to the randy, hot and bothered riffing of “High N’ Dry” stomper “Let It Go,” which sounded like a Harley’s throttle being revved.

After an hour or so of all this, it was time for the show’s centerpiece, “Hysteria,” played in its entirety.

The album was a turning point for Def Leppard, a move into more high-tech, studio-enhanced terrain, and the stage design reflected as much.

After playing their opening set backed only by a large British flag, it was taken down to reveal a multi-tiered array of risers fronted by flashing video screens.

It was like going from analog to digital, and the songs the band played mirrored this shift, so precisely honed, it was if they were machine-made.

"Hysteria" is front loaded with hits: "Animal," "Love Bites," "Rocket," "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

One song after the next, they registered as rock and roll comfort food, chicken noodle soup for the hair metaller’s soul, delivered by the music’s premier craftsmen, who polished it to such a sheen, you could practically see your reflection in it.

Side two of that record, however, contains lesser-favored tunes, some of which hadn’t been played live in decades, but which were aired on this night for better (a snarling “Gods of War,” with its archly melodic guitars that rang out like cavalry trumpets; the AC/DC-esque thump of “Run Riot”) or worse (middle-of-the road pop truffles “Excitable” and “Love and Affection”).

In a recent interview with the Review-Journal, Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott spoke of how the band didn’t want to turn into a nostalgia act.

But for this show, Def Leppard indulged that long-avoided impulse for a couple of hours, and seemingly everyone around them did the same.

Outside the venue, dozens of the band’s platinum discs were mounted on the walls and there were display cases filled with old Def Leppard stage gear.

Even various restaurants in the casino played along (At 35 Steaks + Martinis, one could feast on the “Mirror Mirror” shrimp ceviche or “Only After Dark” strip steak).

Def Leppard themselves acknowledged this trip down memory lane, showing vintage interview and performance clips on a video screen between sets and displaying old magazine covers that featured the band during the song “Hysteria.”

As the group played a show ending “Photograph,” which turned into a raucous sing-a-long with the crowd, black and white photos of the band members appeared on the screen behind them.

They look different now, but they sound the same.

Likewise, for the thousands of mostly middle-aged fans who paid to see them, it was the voices of their inner teenagers, bellowed out through adult throats, that helped carry the tune on this night.

By Las Vegas Review Journal 2013.

Def Leppard, 'VIVA Hysteria!' Opening Night Review: British Rockers Conquer Las Vegas By Carlos Ramirez

Once upon a time, Las Vegas musical entertainment was synonymous with crooners like Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra, but thanks to recent multi-night hotel takeovers by the likes of Guns N' Roses and Mötley Crüe, that preconception has gone the way of the powder blue dinner jacket.

This past Friday (March 22), Noisecreep was on hand for the opening night of VIVA Hysteria!, Def Leppard's exclusive 11-show residency at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel, and if there was any reservations from the crowd and press folks on hand that the band might have to work out any typical first-show bugs out, we were all in for a big surprise.

After arriving at the box office counter at The Joint, the Hard Rock Hotel's famed concert venue, Noisecreep joined up with a group of hardcore Def Leppard fans who had paid for a special meet and greet experience via VIP Nation. After a private dinner, the fans received a bag filled with Def Leppard memorabilia and then were courted off to meet and take photos with the band. Not a bad way to start off the night. Thanks to Colibri Evans and the rest of the gang at VIP Nation for letting Noisecreep hang out and check out the pre-show festivities.

Once inside The Joint, the venue's sound system cranked the familiar sound of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again," and the sold out let off a huge roar, knowing that meant Def Leppard were getting ready to attack the stage.

But the group had a different plan.

As the curtains opened, the five members of Def Leppard appeared on a small set up on the massive stage. It was the kind of space an opening act would get on an arena tour. After kicking off the set with "Good Morning Freedom," a b-side from 1980, singer Joe Elliot introduced the band as "Ded FlatBird," Def Leppard's opening band." It's a fun idea for this type of show, and it also gave the group an excuse to bust out some songs they haven't played in years. Some of the highlights from this part of the performance included "Mirror Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)," "Promises" and "Let It Go."

After the opening set, there was a brief intermission before Def Leppard – this time playing themselves – came back to the stage with the opening guitar riff of "Woman." This was what everyone came for... the UK rockers performing their seminal 1987 album, Hysteria, in its entirety. Loaded with a long runway that stretched into the middle of the arena floor, stage ramps and a massive screen behind them firing up a vibrant mix of art, video footage and archival photos, Def Leppard brought a truly multimedia experience to the capacity crowd.

Def Leppard brought Hysteria cuts like "Animal," "Love Bites," and "Run Riot" to life again with precision and a sonic clarity that would make the album's producer (and infamous studio perfectionist) Robert "Mutt" Lange gleam with pride. Splicing in photos and videos from their storied career during the album set, the group paid tribute to late guitarist Steve Clark during the intro to "Gods of War." It was definitely the night's most touching moment.

After finishing out the Hysteria set, Def Leppard left the stage for a few minutes before coming back and finishing off their triumphant opening night with "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph."

Beginning in the late '80s, Noisecreep has seen Def Leppard at least 7-10 different occasions in concert and without question, VIVA Hysteria! was the best live show we've seen the British legends deliver yet. If the remaining nights left on their Las Vegas residency are anywhere near as kickass as opening night was, everyone coming to see the band in Sin City is in for a treat.

By Noise Creep 2013.

Def Leppard Las Vegas Concert Review By Terry Makedon

Super hard rockers, Def Leppard rolled into the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Friday, March 22 for the opening night of their multi-week Viva Hysteria! stint at the venue, playing shows for the next few weeks. T-Mak World was there!

Def Leppard have been around for many decades and have endured many hardships over the years. Early on in the band's history, it seemed that huge recording release success was followed by tragedy. From the loss of drummer Rick Allen's left arm in 1984 following the explosive breakthrough release of their 1983 Pyromania album, to the loss of guitarist Steve Clark in 1991, while still riding the wave of the massive commercial success of of their Hysteria release. Through it all, the band has persevered and their concerts continue to be heavily anticipated, must see shows for rock fans all over the world.

And now, instead of touring the world, one of rock's greatest bands is drawing the world to them to one of the biggest destination cities, Las Vegas. Def Leppard is taking up residency at The Joint, part of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino complex, where they will be playing 9 shows between March 22 and April 13. After their 2012 Rock of Ages tour, the band is settling into an appropriate venue where many other rock legends have performed. Unlike the stadium and arena venues this band is used to playing, The Joint offers a more intimate setting where no fan in the room will be further than 155 feet away from the stage. Opening night was, of course, a sell out show as everyone of the shows is expected to be. With approximately 4000 seats, this is as intimate a venue as it will get to see this band perform and if you were thinking of going to Vegas anytime soon, fitting in a night with Def Leppard is a must for any fan of the band.

This show is special in nature and the band have planned it out all very well, with a starting set of a mix of Def Leppard hits from both early Leppard times like Good Morning Freedom, Mirror Mirror and Bringing on the Heartbreak to later Leppard recordings such as Slang, Promises, and When Love and Hate Collide. The band performs the opening set in early 80's glam rock attire, with lead singer, Joe Elliot sporting a yellow jacket and patched jeans along with a top hat and sunglasses. To lend some Vegas style gimmickyness to the show, this opening set performance is executed under the disguise of the "world's best Def Leppard cover band", Ded Flatbird. The stage in the opening set is a fraction of the size of what the band is accustomed to with about 8 feet of space from front to back. And with a huge union jack flag serving as the backdrop, this is obviously intended to take us back to the earlier days of the band's performances.

Following the opening set, the fans were treated to a 10 minute montage of archival footage of Def Leppard interviews and concert performances, with special attention being given to the memory of Steve Clark. This served as a perfect bridge to the second set when the band performed the Hysteria album in order and in its entirety. Hysteria was the band's most commercially successful release. Following the band's breakthrough release, and Rick Allen's tragic car accident in which he lost his arm, the band saw almost four years pass before releasing their follow up.

Hysteria topped the UK album charts immediately upon release, but it did not reach the same status in the US until almost a year later, after the release of the hit single, Pour Some Sugar on Me. In addition to this track, Hysteria went on to be remembered for the seemingly endless slew of hits including Animal, Women, Love Bites, Rocket, Armageddon It, and the title track, Hysteria. Having an album with more than half of the tracks being released as hit singles is next to unheard of in any age of music since the early Beatles and Rolling Stones. Hysteria went on to sell more than 20 million copies worldwide and it is fitting that the band devote this show to that release.

In the Hysteria set, the stage is expanded to what the band, and the album deserve. The show is well supported by stage effects which include a multi step screen upon which images are projected providing a unique experience for each song performed by the band. From archival concert footage to hand scripted lyrics and album art being projected, this show is polished and presents a complete experience for the die-hard Def Leppard fan. Rick Allen is presented up front and center, elevated within the screen backdrop, bringing all members of the band close to the front of the stage. There is also a catwalk that the rest of the band members make full use of throughout the show, with heavy fan interaction being encouraged with this feature.

After the Hysteria set, the band responded to demand for an encore with Rock of Ages and Photograph. Great performance and high level of satisfaction, this show was the highlight of my latest trip to Vegas.

By T-MAK World 2013.


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