Friday, November 8, 2013

DEF LEPPARD - 'Viva Hysteria' CD/DVD

RATING: N/A (but it's great)

Label: Bludgeon Riffola/Frontiers

Formats: CD, Blu Ray, DVD

Review By: Alan Holloway

Let's be honest, live albums are not, generally, what they used to be. Everyone was so excited when Iron Maiden released "Live After Death", but these days they are ten a penny, often polished to the point of sounding like a Greatest Hits CD. Ho and indeed hum. personally, I don't review live albums if the company won't send the accompanying DVD as well (if there is one), because, well, because I said so. the DVD to Def Leppard's cool new live thing, because it means I now give a toss.

The story is thus: Def Leppard were offered a residency at Las Vegas, and from their comments the main reason they accepted was the chance to sleep in the same bed for a month. The second reason was that they could do what people had been badgering them to do, which is play their biggest album in it's entirety, something they haven't done since 'On Through the Night', and then it was only because they didn't know any other songs yet.

mention has been made of Joe Elliot's vocals for this release, and whilst I accept it is a bit throaty it's certainly not a deal breaker in any way. As for the rest of the band, they sound brilliant, as good as when I saw them on the original tour back in the dark ages. Phil Collen looks like he pumps more iron than Kane Roberts, and as usual you forget that Rick Alen is, um, limbistically challenged. the camerawork is exemplary, proving that if you put some money into it you get a much better live DVD, something already realized by AC/DC and iron maiden for recent releases. In addition, the sound mix is spot on, so if your TV is connected to a big ass sound system you'll genuinely feel like you're really there, only without being able to gamble your life savings away. As a small bonus the encores are "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages", which round off a fine one and a half hours or so.

So the "Hysteria" part of the concert is fine and dandy, but there's more to this story than meets the eye (and indeed the DVD back cover). What you also get is two support sets from the cunningly named Ded Flatbird, who are basically Def Leppard in different clothes supporting themselves. This could be dismissed as a lame gimmick if it wasn't for the setlist. "Good Morning Freedom", "Mirror Mirror", "Rock Brigade", "Another Hit & Run" and eleven more tracks you thought you'd never see them play live ever again. To be honest, this is worth the cover price on it's own, and is a superb extra. On top of all this there's a five track acoustic set in front of a small group of fans, featuring a medley of five more tracks that aren't played elsewhere. Value for money? Fuck yeah.

"Viva Hysteria" is one of the best DVD packages I've yet seen. You can buy it bundled with the audio version if you want, but there's no difference to the content so it's all down to how you want to do your listening. If you are a Leps fan this is absolutely essential, and will remind any who have wandered off just why they loved the band in the first place.

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