The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world









No matter what your opinion on Def Leppard you cannot deny their legacy as the only British Hard Rock band apart from Led Zeppelin to have at least two Diamond selling releases (10 times Platinum – when Platinum was still a million sales).


These days the band may be little more than one of many Hard Rockers on the eternal (as they say in the US) ‘Heritage Rock’ trail – comprised of bands who seem to endlessly wander North American playing old songs for increasingly older people in increasingly smaller venues. But we’re not ones for pessimism here and judging by this release Def Leppard still delivers that nostalgia fix far better than most.


A residency at Las Vegas’ Joint may well have been done before and to an extent that’s the point for Def Leppard these days – long gone are their ground-breaking experiments in playing most concerts in most continents in a weekend and in is the “well Motley packed it out so let’s do it” attitude. Now you could argue that’s good business and common sense (and great retirement planning)… that’s entirely the point and the frustration. There is still a huge audience out there for this music but the sad thing is that both the bands and the audience have largely agreed that ‘this is probably the best that we will get’. It’s that kind of apathy that will eventually strangle Rock and the hope that there will ever be again another great stadium band. Whereas other forms of music market themselves so well Rock seems lost without the Major Label support. And lost as it is bands like Def Leppard will continue to make safe decisions until they eventually pull u sticks.


Now that’s over with - for fans this is actually a great release.  Filmed live at the Hard Rock Hotel’s Joint (capacity 4000) over eleven nights in March this year the film and album celebrate twenty five years of the album ‘Hysteria’ which the band plays in full and in sequence for the first time. Hysteria of course is Def Leppard's most successful release and having clocked up 12 million sales in the US and 20 million worldwide it’s stadium rock at its commercial peak.


Whilst the start of the film suggests we might be getting a documentary ‘Viva Hysteria’ just turns out to be another concert film which is kind of a shame, but what you get is really just a scaled down version of a stadium show. Visually the camera work is great, the band nail it musically and despite Elliott’s less than legendary voice, he is at his distinctive best and still a wonderfully charismatic front man.


As far as the music goes obviously the run through the whole of Hysteria in order is the big draw here and in those 12 tracks it’s easy to see how those tracks captured the whole Hard Rock world at the time. Even the ‘filler’ like ‘Run Riot’ and ‘Excitable’ sound good and when you think that this record produced no less than seven singles the quality is obvious.


Fans will also love the rest of the show, comprised as it is of classics and rarities. The best thing for this reviewer is the inclusion of tracks from what I still consider to be Leppard’s best two releases that preceded Hysteria – ‘Pyromania’ and ‘High and Dry’.  Hell there’s even stuff here from their debut ‘On Through the Night’ and early rarities like ‘Good Morning Freedom’ (the B-Side of first single ‘Hello America’ and ‘Rock Brigade’ (A US only single from 1980).


If there is a downside I would have loved nothing post Hysteria included in the set (let’s face it if it’s all about that album it’s great to hear what led up to it, and get that real nostalgia trip) but a few later songs do make it and to be honest they don’t sit as comfortably in the ‘classic’ setlist as the earlier material.  


‘Slang’ has always been one of my least favourite periods of Def Leppard’s history and it’s by far the weakest song here, and while you can forgive a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Action!’ it’s also hard to argue a case for the most recent song here ‘Undefeated’ which still sounds like a song the band might have rejected out of hand back in the day, or Euphoria’s ‘Promises’ which sounds like one of thousands of nondescript eighties melodic rock bands but was released in 1999. These are of course minor quibbles that won’t spoil anyone’s day. Just enjoy the show!  


A must see for fans and a great live album to boot.




Mark Diggins