In luck and in deep: England’s finest reliving their youthful glory on a timewarp ride.
They’ve become a national treasure, the LEPPARD, and not for nothing the quintet accessorize their stage outfit with Union Jack, so it was only natural that in March 2013 the band landed a Las Vegas residency, what with the local habit of planting the likes of Eiffel Tower and Sphinx in Nevada. More so, it confirmed the ensemble’s pop appeal which hit its peak a quarter of a century earlier with the release of “Hysteria,” and where else, if not in Sin City, they could commit a crime of playing this album in its entirety? By doing what they’d been averse to before, the group wouldn’t gamble with promotion of their latest studio work, "Songs From The Sparkle Lounge", yet rather give it a new slant, and here’s a result of the DEF effort, in both aural and visual form.
For all its proximity to the 1987 original, the live version of “Hysteria” is significantly different from the LP, and not because it’s a concert take – there are familiar special effects on “Gods Of War” that’s prefaced with the late Steve Clark’s solo and “Rocket” – the main reason for a change being the life lived in between the record’s birth and its complete on-stage delivery. The experience gained over the years shows not only in Phil Collen’s shredding in “Run Riot” and its ilk, Vivian Campbell counterbalancing this flurry of notes with his tempered melodious lines, but also in the overall gravity of LEPPARD’s performance, so clear in the “Love Bites” drama, while Joe Elliott’s now-and-then resort to falcetto in order to reach the erstwhile heights reveals the band’s mature vulnerability on top of young bravado. The boldness and showmanship are still there, which is clear from the off, once the barechested Collen, going down on a suspended platform, peels off the predatory chords of “Women”: thus, the group re-emerge as dapper superheroes as opposed to the occasional glam style of their opening act, DED FLATBIRD, who shake their wares on the second CD and in the bonus section of the DVD, where an acoustic session also resides.
The same people in the NEW YORK DOLLS-like disguise, the singer clad in leather and hidden under the hat and shades and Rick Savage having his usual decadent look, it provides the quintet with an opportunity to run rough ‘n’ sleazy before the smooth of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” kicks in, and revert to the early heaviness of “High ‘n’ Dry” a half of which they stream alongside rarely played cuts. Among those are B-side “Good Morning Freedom” and “Undefeated” that, in its studio polish, graced LEPPARD’s previous live document, “Mirrorball,” their first ever, and now sounds as proud as the main album’s finely poised title track or “Wasted” from 1980. Archive screen projections of pictures from different eras of the ensemble’s career serve as an additional emotional backdrop and give the selection a solid context which, together with Rick Allen’s steady beat in the lighthearted rock ‘n’ roll of “Excitable,” pump adrenaline in the listener’s veins and keep its level high until the “Pyromania” encores – “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph” – bring it all to a celebratory, if nostalgic, close.
There’s enough looking back – in the cover of SWEET’s “Action” or “Mirror, Mirror” from “High ‘n’ Dry” – yet ultimately, after all these years, the charge of “Rock Brigade” is still relevant for DEF LEPPARD, and when they break from “Slang” into another Sin City resident artist, Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” a genuine vivacity comes down to take the band into the future.