My best friend in high school had an older brother who had already turned us on to Def Leppard’s “On Through The Night” and “High And Dry” albums. So when “Pyromania” was released we were already well versed in the band and what they could do. Overnight everyone in my high school starting wearing union jack shorts or t-shirts. MTV had “Photograph” in regular rotation and by regular I mean every 30 minutes. Radio was suddenly embracing them as a heavy metal Beatles. It was a good time to be young and into hard rock music.
Now decades later the band, having weathered death, loss of limb, drugs, overdoses, alcoholism, and an uncertain musical market, have reclaimed their former glory with “VIVA! Hysteria – Live at the Joint, Las Vegas”. The live concert features classic songs as well as recent albums hits. Set in Las Vegas during their residency, the band seems to be on fire, even performing as the band “Ded Flatbird” and opening act for themselves — allowing the band to play some of the really older songs that they would not have time to play during the main set. Clever. Very clever.
The concert is a testament to the staying power of this group. Pop hits aside, there are some killer tracks awaiting you on the release. “Wasted”, “High And Dry”, and “Rock Brigade” fall easily in place next to mega hits like “Animal”, “Hysteria”, and “Photograph”. Listening to the audio took me right back to those crazy days and wild nights when Def Leppard ruled the airwaves and stone washed jeans were in.
Joe Elliot has never sounded better and he seemed quite comfortable in the Vegas setting. Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell are truly masters of their instruments and they weave a sonic tapestry in and around the time-honored classic songs. This interplay helped breathe new life into the songs. The concert performance would put bands half their age to shame. There is so much energy and power flowing from these living rock icons.
A must-have for any fan of hard rock and 80’s hard rock, this will be a crowning piece in any collection. Production on this album is flawless, as is the performance. Great songs from a great band.
Bryan Martin is a rock journalist and lifelong East Providence resident. He has played guitar professionally for the past 30 years, but while guitar playing may be his first love, writing about music is his passion. Bryan is married with 4 kids; you can see more of his work at Ripplemusic.blogspot.com.