Special report by Greg Prato
It was recently announced that DEF LEPPARD will be issuing a new concert video, Def Leppard Viva! Hysteria Concert, which will be the first ever such release by the band to be shown in movie theaters, on Wednesday, October 2 and Tuesday, October 8 at 8:00 p.m. local time. The movie was filmed over two nights in March and April of this year, during the veteran rock band's residency at Las Vegas' the Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com
. The event will be presented in nearly 250 select movie theaters around the country through NCM’s exclusive Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations and prices, visit the NCM Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).
"Well, it was certainly challenging by virtue of the fact it's a smaller venue," singer Joe Elliott recently explained during a conference call interview. "It's still a big stage, so we were still able to manufacture our…what we did is we have our own stage, and what it is, it's like Meccano, where you can take pieces off and move them around. We just literally changed the shape of it to suit the size of that stage in there. And the rest of it just took care of itself. Having a fantastic production team, which is what we have, we didn't really have to get involved. They sent photographs of their design, and we were all 'thumbs up' from day one."
And as stated in its title, Def Leppard Viva! Hysteria Concert features a complete front-to-back performance of their mega-selling 1987 release, Hysteria (as well as a few other Leppard classics, for good measure). Guitarist Phil Collen points out that the album has held up well over the years. "I think it's really classy, and classic. That was one thing we noticed when we started playing it live - we play all the other songs from the other albums, even the later ones, and when you play the Hysteria stuff, it felt really 'expensive.' Especially when you've done the set as an album, in that kind of sequence and everything. It really had a kind of a 'thing' to it. It more than stood up, I think. All the stuff - all the songs, al the arrangements, the vocal arrangements, guitar. Just amazing."
Elliott also discussed how it is performing Hysteria material in concert in 2013, as opposed to 1987. "We're a much better band than we were back in the '80s. I think when we first started with that record, we were a bit frightened of it. But 25 years on, with the experience we've got now, we're actually a much better band - players, singers, everything - than we were then. It felt a lot more comfortable in Vegas I think, than it did when we were doing it 'in the round,' where some of that stuff was very tricky."
The singer also commented on if Def Leppard is eyeing work on their next studio release. "I don't know what we're doing at the moment, to be quite honest. We're having a bit of downtime and having the movie do the work for us. We're in a constant state of writing - we're always going to be writing. We'll reconvene at the end of the year and see where we are, and go from there. But we haven't any direct plans at the moment."
Both also gave updates to how Leppard's other guitarist, Vivian Campbell, is doing health-wise (it has been disclosed that Campbell is battling Hodgkin's lymphoma). Collen: "Fantastic. He actually had this cough for a year, and when we'd done Vegas, it was really hard for him, actually, just physically. Pretty much the day after we finished the residency, he went and started some chemo. And it worked really well with him - the cough went within a week, and he was getting stronger and stronger the whole time. So he's doing fantastic." Elliott: "He just had his last chemo yesterday, actually, or the day before. I think they’ll do a check-up in a couple of weeks and then he's clear - they don't need to see him for another six months. That's the plan, so, fingers crossed. It's the one to have, as they say - 80% cure rate on Hodgkin's lymphoma. So, he seems to be at a good place at the moment."
Additionally, the singer and guitarist offered their thoughts on a long-standing debate amongst Leppard fanatics - what is the best album, Hysteria or Pyromania? Collen: "I think Hysteria, personally. It crossed over. Pyromania was more of a 'rock album.' It's just my opinion. Hysteria just crossed genres and even age groups - it was right across the board. It did what Thriller did, a little bit more I think. For me, I'd say Hysteria." Elliott: "I don't know. I really can't answer that question. Obviously, Hysteria is a more commercially successful record than Pyromania. But Pyromania is still a very important album - that is the one that broke us in North America. Depending on the day you get out of bed and which side of the bed you get out of, sometimes it could be one or the other."
Lastly, Elliott addressed the "cursed" tag that some have given the band, due to several tragedies they've experience over the years. "My standard answer for this whole 'cursed' rubbish, which is what it is, is this - you take any five random people off the street and ask them what's gone wrong in their lives over the last 35 years, I can guarantee that it would be worse than what we've been through, and their highs will be nowhere near as close as ours."
Def Leppard Viva! Hysteria Trailer:
'Pour Some Sugar On Me':