Blu-ray Review: Def Leppard - London To Vegas

Def Leppard deliver hit after hit in two great concerts.
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For over four decades, Def Leppard has brought their brand of melodic hard rock to the masses. With a killer catalog, killer harmonies, and killer musicianship, the band's concerts celebrate rock's bygone era and play out like a classic rock radio jukebox. In 2018, the band took to the stage in London's famed O2 Arena to deliver their classic album, Hysteria, in its entirety. Six months later, the group did a residency in Las Vegas, playing lengthy sets filled with seldom heard, choice cuts. The band filmed the shows in both venues and those concerts make up the excellent Blu-ray, Def Leppard - London To Vegas. While multiple configurations exist for this strong set, this review is based on the video content only.

For the London show, the group's stage set resembled the iconic album cover, bringing it "to life". Def Leppard has always been a great live band and they do not disappoint here, delivering note-perfect renditions of every track on the album, as well as several gems from throughout their storied career. The band plays the songs with such gusto; it seems as if they were the first time they had been performed live, even though many of these tracks have been staples of their live set for over 30 years.

"Women" opens the proceedings and singer Joe Elliott is in fine voice, as is the band on the song's harmonies. Both here and throughout, the group reproduce their complex vocal parts easily and that remains an underappreciated part of their legend. This song, along with many others in the set, benefits from the beefed up sound of the live show.

For the next five tracks, it is hit after hit -- "Rocket," "Animal," "Love Bites," "Pour Some Sugar On Me," and "Armageddon It." Most bands would be happy to have this many big songs in a career, let alone the first six songs on one of their albums. The title track comes later in the set and is the seventh huge song from the record. All of the tracks are expertly rendered, with the crowd way into it. Guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen deliver not only strong vocals, but also strong guitar leads, with Campbell ably playing late guitarist Steve Clark's parts. The duo offer some surprises as well, with some wah pedal sneaking its way into "Pour Some Sugar On Me." The stage show is phenomenal too, particularly during "Rocket," as many of the images from the song are interspersed with those of the band.

In the bonus footage from London, the group talks about how they wanted the lesser-known Hysteria tracks to sound as if they had been played as many times as the hits and the band succeeds in this endeavor. Songs such as "Gods Of War" and "Don't Shoot Shotgun" are potent reminders that even Def Leppard's deepest cuts rock pretty hard and, more importantly, they seems to be relishing the opportunity to play these songs live.

The band closes out the show with a hits segment that starts with "Wasted," from On Through The Night. Campbell offers up some blistering lead guitar work on the track. The show closes with triumphant versions of early-MTV favorites "Rock Of Ages" and "Photograph" and the group reminds the faithful that they still deliver melodic hard rock as well as anybody.

While the O2 show was an exercise in precise, scripted replication of the band's classic hits, the Vegas performance is decidedly much looser. When the group opens with "Die Hard The Hunter," the crowd knows it is in for a treat and not the standard Def Leppard show. The group seems stoked to be playing songs such as "Too Late For Love," complete with excellent leads from Campbell, as well as '90s gems such as "Promises."

The band switches gears for an acoustic set that finds Elliott on guitar and performing tracks such as "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad" and "Two Steps Behind." The stripped down set showcases the group's songwriting and harmonies and is proof positive that they do not need lavish productions and big stage shows to deliver great songs.

After a killer cover of "Action," the band closes out the set in typical fashion with "Rock Of Ages" and "Photograph." The show truly shows how deep the group's catalog is and how great a set list they can offer fans, even with deeper cuts.

The audio and video presentation is fantastic throughout. The discs include behind the scenes footage from both gigs that really show all that goes into putting on shows such as these.

For over 40 years, Def Leppard has delivered catchy, melodic hard rock to their adoring fans. The band's chops are as strong as ever, as are their vocals, and they still deliver at a high level. The two shows included on Def Leppard - London To Vegas offer up a band that is as good as it's ever been and one that clearly still loves doing it.