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Def Leppard, ‘VIVA Hysteria!’ Opening Night Review: British Rockers Conquer Las Vegas (PHOTOS)

David Becker, Getty Images

Once upon a time, Las Vegas musical entertainment was synonymous with crooners like Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra, but thanks to recent multi-night hotel takeovers by the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe, that preconception has gone the way of the powder blue dinner jacket.

This past Friday (March 22), Noisecreep was on hand for the opening night of VIVA Hysteria!, Def Leppard‘s exclusive 11-show residency at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel, and if there was any reservations from the crowd and press folks on hand that the band might have to work out any typical first-show bugs out, we were all in for a big surprise.

After arriving at the box office counter at The Joint, the Hard Rock Hotel’s famed concert venue, Noisecreep joined up with a group of hardcore Def Leppard fans who had paid for a special meet and greet experience via VIP Nation. After a private dinner, the fans received a bag filled with Def Leppard memorabilia and then were courted off to meet and take photos with the band. Not a bad way to start off the night. Thanks to Colibri Evans and the rest of the gang at VIP Nation for letting Noisecreep hang out and check out the pre-show festivities.

Once inside The Joint, the venue’s sound system cranked the familiar sound of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and the sold out let off a huge roar, knowing that meant Def Leppard were getting ready to attack the stage.

But the group had a different plan.

David Becker, Getty Images

As the curtains opened, the five members of Def Leppard appeared on a small set up on the massive stage. It was the kind of space an opening act would get on an arena tour. After kicking off the set with “Good Morning Freedom,” a b-side from 1980, singer Joe Elliot introduced the band as “Ded FlatBird,” Def Leppard’s opening band.” It’s a fun idea for this type of show, and it also gave the group an excuse to bust out some songs they haven’t played in years. Some of the highlights from this part of the performance included “Mirror Mirror (Look Into My Eyes),” “Promises” and “Let It Go.”

After the opening set, there was a brief intermission before Def Leppard – this time playing themselves – came back to the stage with the opening guitar riff of “Woman.” This was what everyone came for… the UK rockers performing their seminal 1987 album, Hysteria, in its entirety. Loaded with a long runway that stretched into the middle of the arena floor, stage ramps and a massive screen behind them firing up a vibrant mix of art, video footage and archival photos, Def Leppard brought a truly multimedia experience to the capacity crowd.

Def Leppard brought Hysteria cuts like “Animal,” “Love Bites,” and “Run Riot” to life again with precision and a sonic clarity that would make the album’s producer (and infamous studio perfectionist) Robert “Mutt” Lange gleam with pride. Splicing in photos and videos from their storied career during the album set, the group paid tribute to late guitarist Steve Clark during the intro to “Gods of War.” It was definitely the night’s most touching moment.

After finishing out the Hysteria set, Def Leppard left the stage for a few minutes before coming back and finishing off their triumphant opening night with “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph.”

Beginning in the late ’80s, Noisecreep has seen Def Leppard at least 7-10 different occasions in concert and without question, VIVA Hysteria! was the best live show we’ve seen the British legends deliver yet. If the remaining nights left on their Las Vegas residency are anywhere near as kickass as opening night was, everyone coming to see the band in Sin City is in for a treat.

Carlos Ramirez

VIVA Hysteria! opening night setlist:

Good Morning Freedom
Mirror, Mirror (Look Into My Eyes)
When Love and Hate Collide
Let It Go
Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
Switch 625
Love Bites
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Armageddon It
Gods of War
Don’t Shoot Shotgun
Run Riot
Love and Affection
Rock of Ages

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