The 3rd August 1987 is in many ways just another mundane Monday in the annuls of history. Not much really happened if you search on the internet. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the UK, Ronald Reagan was President of the USA, Pope John Paul II presided over the Catholic church, oh and a certain band from Sheffield, after much hard work, troubles and heartbreak released a little album that would go on to change the shape of rock music as we knew it. That band were Def Leppard and that album was Hysteria.
From a personal point of view I remember getting really excited about the albums release. It had been nearly 4 years since they had released Pyromania and as a then 17 year old rock fan, there was undeniable hype about the albums impending release. It was well documented, if my memory hasn’t completely left me about the troubles the band had gone through in recording the album, not least when drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm in a car crash.
In fact, it was that incident which in the end gave the album it’s title when Rick himself came up with the name in reference to his 1984 accident and the media frenzy that followed.
Who would have known that as the album hit the record store shelves, that we would now be celebrating what has in many ways become one of the most celebrated and iconic albums in rock history. It was that long ago, you still went to your local store to buy your albums, on vinyl, on their release date, and in those days, albums came out on a Monday.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIlHi15I9YQ&w=560&h=315]
I seem to remember making sure that I made a trip to my local Woolworths (remember them), that had a great record section and picked my copy up on release date as I just had to hear it. I am happy to say that it is now an album that has been a massive part of my life ever since.
Since coming out on Mercury Records, Hysteria has gone on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide, with over 12 million of them being sold in the USA. It spawned not one, not two, but seven, yes seven hit singles from its twelve tracks and went to be number one in a host of countries including both the UK and USA. It took the band over 3 years to create with producer Robert “Mutt” Lange and has a decent play time of just over 62 minutes.
There must have been something in the creative water in 1987 as this much fawned over masterpiece was one of a number of great albums to come out that year. Whitesnake re-invented their sound with 1987, The Cult released Electric, Motley Crue gave us Girls, Girls, Girls, Marillion hit the charts with Clutching At Straws, Aerosmith made their big comeback with Permanent Vacation and a certain 5 piece from L.A. introduced themselves to the world with Appetite for Destruction. I could go on but this is not about those albums, although, if you were there it was just an absolutely wonderful time to be a rock music fan. This is about Def Leppard, about Hysteria and about them celebrating the success of that release some 31 years later.
I actually made the pilgrimage to Sheffield from my home on the Sussex coast to see the band in front of their adoring home town fans on the tour. This show at the o2 would have been much closer to home, but there was something drawing me to see them play out the album in their hometown all these years later and I am glad I did as it is a night that will live with me for the rest of my life.
When I pressed play on the DVD stream that I have been sent to review the release from, I have to say that the excitement that I felt when standing on the floor in front of Phil Collen in December 2018 came flooding back. As the opening bars of Women come blasting out through my speakers, it is immediately apparent, as it was then, that this is arena rock at it’s finest. The quality of the DVD is superb, why wouldn’t it be and as I sat there watching (and singing), you can see the crowd lapping up every line of every song that has become ingrained into their brain since August 1987.
They like me, are singing along with Joe Elliott and singing back to him at every chance. For those that didn’t get the chance to witness this fantastic show first hand, the CD/DVD set on offer here is worth every single penny and then some more. You get to see the no expense spared lightshow and stage setting that the band brought with them to make this, as Rik Savage says “A musical epic”. The DVD in particular showcases how the musical juggernaut that is Def Leppard rolled into town like the well oiled machine that it is and left nobody with any doubts as to why Hysteria was the success it was.
Rocket, Animal, Love Bites and Pour Some Sugar on Me follow before Joe Elliott, makes his first real interaction with the crowd, when he welcomes them to “Hysteria 2018”. You can see the joy in his face as he states that the album, which he notes is 31 years old, has lasted the test of time and that they have finally got the chance to bring it back to the UK to play it from start to finish.
This was an idea the band came up with when they played their first Las Vegas residency, some 5 years previous, so it must have been a special moment for them to see it come to fruition. It is testament to the bands longevity of line up that after 26 years, even if it is done some what tongue in cheek, Joe can still introduce Vivian Campbell as the new boy from Belfast before Vivian rips into the opening licks of Armageddon It. In some ways it is quite poignant that we are reminded of that fact as the only line-up change the band have had since recording this legendary album wa when Viv replaced the late Steve Clarke.
As the show slips into side two of the album an image of Steve Maynard Clark is displayed on the giant screens adorning the back of the stage and it is his, not Viv’s guitar part that plays out the intro to Gods of War. A really heartfelt touch from the band to their departed friend who gave the band so much of their sound. It is clear that although he is gone, he is definitely not forgotten and this nod to him shows how much the band think of the legacy he left during the recording of this album.
Don’t Shoot Shotgun, Run Riot, Hysteria. Excitable and Love and Affection bring the album run through to a close. There is great footage throughout of a packed o2 arena clapping as one as they take in every moment of hearing each and every one of these 12 great songs played out to them. In fact, if you didn’t know, this tour was the first time that Excitable had ever been played live in the UK. I wonder as I write this, if it ever will be again.
Joe Elliott takes a bow, punches the air in delight and blows a kiss to the crowd. You get the feeling that this is as much a thank you to those fans stood in front of him for making this particular party a success but also in honour of what the band have just done for those in attendance. After watching that part of the DVD I realized what a real buzz it had given me. The feelings of seeing the tour in Sheffield came flooding back and it also got me reminiscing of all the times I had seen them over the years, all the way back to the first time back in April 1988 when I went to both nights at a packed Wembley Arena.
Five more songs follow that give an all too brief glimpse into the career away from the album that is being celebrated. Phil Collen, the Walthamstow Wonder takes the band into 1980’s Wasted. A real rocking back to the roots moment before all the multi million productions if ever there was one.
The set then slips into post-Hysteria mode with the smash hits When Love and Hate Collide and Lets Get Rocked, complete with a mass sing-a-long from the 18000ish crowd. It wouldn’t be a Def Leppard show without tracks from Hysteria’s predecessor Pyromania and so when Joe introduces drummer Rik Allen to the crowd you know what is coming. As always, Rik speaks those immortal words Gunter Gleiben Glauchen Globen and the band tear into Rock of Ages.
Every time the camera cuts to the audience, not only through this song but through every song that has gone before it, there is a smile on every face, a glint in every eye. It clearly shows what the band, their songs and their music mean to people and what it does to them. This is happy stuff, happy memories and nights like this that we are now witnessing on this dvd or on this cd are making new memories for people as the band play on.
Photograph brings the set and night to a close and Joe Elliott sums it up as he says to the crowd “Unbelievable, thank you so much”. I dare say there are 18000 inside the o2 who have just been part of this celebration that would personally like to say exactly the same to each and every one of Def Leppard, I know I would, because that is exactly how I felt when I saw them in Sheffield.
Hand on heart, I honestly think that this release should be an essential addition to the music collection of any rock fan, Def Leppard fan or even just a music fan. Whether you were there and want to buy it as a memory or whether you weren’t and want to see what all the fuss was about, this live cd/dvd set celebrates one of the biggest and most iconic rock albums of a generation and deserves to be added into any collection. I know I will be adding it into mine.
Review by Darren Smith for MPM