In Part 2 of this 3 Part series of the Def Leppard Live albums we are tackling Viva! Hysteria (If you want to read Part 1 just click on Mirror Ball: Live & More).
Per Joe Elliott, Def Leppard has been asked numerous times to play one of their albums in its entirety. At the times they had been asked, they were busy supporting an album and didn’t feel it was appropriate. Along comes the day when they are in between albums and the time felt right.
They took up residency at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas from March 22nd to April 13th in 2013. From those shows comes the release of Viva! Hysteria. The 2 CD set and DVD of the show make for a great addition to your Def Leppard collection. I have to admit I am mad at myself for not making it out to Vegas to see this show as it would have been a special show to have seen. I have seen them so many times, but this would probably have been the coolest.
I am going to focus on the gems for these albums reviews…those songs that aren’t on other releases and those that sound the best out of the 3 live releases. Disc 1 of the CD set includes the set where Def Leppard plays the entire Hysteria album in its entirety from start to finish in the same running order as the album. For encore, they come back and play two of their biggest hits from ‘Pyromania’. Track listing as follows:
- “Love Bites”
- “Pour Some Sugar On Me”
- “Armageddon It”
- “Gods of War”
- “Don’t Shoot Shotgun”
- “Run Riot”
- “Love And Affection”
- “Rock of Ages”
The band sounds incredible. All though Joe Elliott can’t hit every note that he could back in the day, he still sounds great. Vivian and Phil, the dynamic guitar duo, are spot on with their playing and compliment each other so well. Rick’s bass is perfect and he never gets enough credit. And lastly, the Thunder God, Rick Allen, pounds away on the drums like he was 15 again.
What makes this disc so special is the fact we get to hear songs that have not been played live in years or haven’t ever been played live before. This disc alone is worth hearing “Gods of War”, “Don’t Shoot Shotgun”, “Run Riot”, “Excitable” & “Love & Affection”. These are not on any of their other live releases and they sound amazing. They stick with the original format of the songs to perfection…well as perfect as you can get playing live.
Disc 2, however, is the real reason to buy this album. When Def Leppard decided to this they knew they were playing the same 12 songs in a row every night, so the first half of the show was going to be different every night. They wanted to stay sane while they played. This second disc consists of the best damn Def Leppard cover band in the world…Ded Flatbird. Ded Flatbird is really Def Leppard so they weren’t “Foolin'” anyone.
The first half of the CD is from March 29th and the 2nd half is March 30th. They play some songs on these sets that 2 members of the band had never played live. Those two members are Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell. Here is the track listing:
- “Good Morning Freedom”
- “Mirror, Mirror (Look into My Eyes)”
- “Rock Brigrade”
- “On Through the Night”
- “Let It Go”
- “Another Hit & Run”
- “High & Dry (Saturday Night)
- “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak”
- “Switch 625”
There are 11 songs on this disc that are not played live on any of their other releases. It will be easier to list what is on the other albums, “Action”, “Let It Go”, “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” and “Switch 625”. Everything else is exclusive to this disc. “Undefeated” is on ‘Mirror Ball’, but that is a studio version…this is live.
The other cool thing about this disc is that songs 11 – 15 are Side 1 of the album High & Dry. In fact, they played 7 songs from that album…my favorite Def Lep album. The other cool thing is to actually get to hear “Good Morning Freedom”. I had never heard that one live before. Then to get the song “Slang” was a bonus as well. I am so glad they acknowledge that album as it such an underrated album.
In looking at just the live CDs, Viva! Hysteria is by far the best of the 3 collections. The band plays and sounds like they are having a great time. In listening, I know I was having a great time. If you can only get one, this is the one to get!
Now for the DVD/Blue Ray part of the set. The DVD is basically the 2 CDs live and in living color. When watching the DVD you get to feel these songs a little bit more as you can see what the guys are doing and how much they enjoy it.
Now I watched it out of order. I started with the Bonus section and the two sets where they pretended to be a Def Leppard cover band called Ded Flatbird. I think the story on that name is when Joe told his mum the name of the band, that is what she heard. The band comes out dressed in different style clothes and Joe is sporting a really cool hat that I wish I could pull it off. The strange thing was seeing Phil Collen wear a shirt for this set. The man never wears a shirt. He is always showing off his 25 year old body in his 60 year old frame. Now of course, then they come out for the Hysteria part of the show, he is shirtless again.
The other nice little bonus was an acoustic medley with the band playing the following:
- “Where Does Love Go When It Dies”
- “When Love and Hate Collide”
- “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”
- “Two Steps Behind”
It was a nice medley with four members and acoustic guitars and poor Rick with a maraca. He seemed left out.
The last little bonus was a photo montage to the tune of Hysteria that played with pictures from the their residency in Vegas. Nice to go through once, but probably not something you will go back to again and again.
Then I started up the Hysteria part of the show. The look of the stage was simple. It had a runway coming out to the crowd in the center, a couple of risers for drum set and one behind it and there were a lot of video screens which they used nicely. When playing “Rocket”, it had all the TV screens like from the video. Another nice touch was before “Gods of War”, they played on the video screen a video of Steve Clark doing a solo from the Hysteria Tour. It was a nice tribute to our fallen friend.
During “Gods of War” you could barely hear Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher speaking their little lines from the song. I always loved the piece at the end where Reagan said “They counted on America to be passive, They counted wrong.” and the explosion sound and the song ends.
The other nice thing about the video was seeing how cool the song “Run Riot” is to be played live. Why this one doesn’t get more live performances is beyond me. It is such a rocker with a great Phil guitar solo.
Watching the live video for the song “Hysteria” was awesome as well. The video screens in the background showed pictures from back in the day and the touring of the album back in the late 80’s. It was a very nice touch that added to the video experience.
After blazing through the remaining to rarely played tracks of “Excitable” and “Love and Affection”, the boys come back with one of their best encores. They play “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph”. At the beginning of “Photograph”, Phil and Vivian come out on the runway and in unison crank out the opening riff of the song. Ending the show with “Photograph” as the song is the only way to really end a Def Leppard show in my humble opinion.
The show was a masterpiece of how you do a rock show. No glitz, no explosions and rarely any talking in between songs. They just played!! And played better than they have in years. This is by far the one set you want to have if you want a Def Leppard live album. This one can not be beat.
Next week I will bring you Part 3 on “And There Will Be A Next Time…Live in Detroit”.