The Gracefully Aging Def Leppard

The lavish London To Vegas box set documents a band entering their 60s hungrier than ever

Def Leppard London to Vegas, Eagle Vision 2020

Over 30 years after the release of its career peak album, Hysteria and 40 years since its first album, On Through the Night, Def Leppard—one of the highest-selling groups of all time with over 100 million albums sold—still fills arenas and packs the house nightly during extended residencies.

The group’s musicianship is flawless and its members possibly in the best shape of their lives, not to mention their ageless songs hold up. 

This is evident on the double header that is Def Leppard London to Vegas. Two full-length concert films, each comes with its own behind-the-scenes bonus, plus a 40-page hardback book and merchandise bundles. The 10-minute mini-documentaries are an insider’s look at what goes into making the show and include interviews with the band members. But they are a far cry from the deliciously salacious VH1 Behind the Music episode that truly showed the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll life Def Leppard were living during touring Hysteria at the time of its release. Obviously this is not the group’s lifestyle anymore, but footage of their crew building their set is not a riveting watch.

The concert films, on the other hand, are fantastic—for the most part. Hysteria at the O2 was captured on December 6, 2018 at Def Leppard’s sold-out show at London, England’s large-capacity O2 Arena. This was the first time the group played this venue and also the first time Def Leppard brought the Hysteria show to their home country. As the title indicates, the iconic album is played front to back, with anthems such as “Armageddon It” and “Rocket” being marked highlights. The five-song encore includes a few numbers from pre- and a few numbers from post-Hysteria, most notably, the MTV favorite, “Photograph” and “Gunter Gleiben Glauchen Globen” otherwise known as “Rock of Ages.” Throughout the film, the heightened energy at the O2 audience is tangible.

The various formats of London To Vegas

The 28-song Hits Vegas, Live at Planet Hollywood, was captured over two nights, September 7th and 8th, during the group’s Las Vegas summer 2019 residency in the Zappos Theatre at Planet Hollywood. While the setlist was fluid each evening, Def Leppard made sure to include “Foolin’,” “Animal,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Bringing On The Heartbreak” among their selections for the concert film. Billed as a performance of “hits,” there are way too many songs included that are not only not hits but not identifiable by the casual fan or in any way representative of the group’s songwriting abilities. After far too many of these deep cuts in a row, when they launch into the classic “Let It Go,” it pulls the aging crowd to its feet in an instant. Allen makes up for any lulls in the show with his mindblowing extended drum solos.

The unique part of the residency performance is the acoustic portion. For this, the group drops the frills and gathers together on chairs at the front of the stage doing renditions of their songs that showcase the songwriting over the flash. The only downside in this section is the lack of high-profile songs, which would have been really interesting to experience acoustically. The true “hits” part of the concert is backloaded after the acoustic performance, and with it, the flash, the energy and the excitement of the band’s true rock show bravado on a grand scale.

The stadium tour that Def Leppard were to be a part of this summer along with Mötley Crüe, Poison and Joan Jett is likely a non-starter. Instead, fire up the DVD player, turn the lights down and the sound up and you’ve got the best, most affordable seat in the house without having to go through stadium security.

 

VIDEO: Def Leppard perform “Hysteria” at the O2 Arena

Lily Moayeri

Lily Moayeri is a music journalist who also covered television, art, fashion, and other facets of pop culture. She is a major contributor to the textbook The Guerrilla Guide to the Music Business. Find her work aggregated at Pictures of Lily and follow her on Twitter @PicsOfLilyBlog.

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