DEF LEPPARD's continued standing as a beloved rock act has been bolstered by their consistency as a strong live act among the glut of legacy bands that still sell tickets based on past hits. The revered Brits revisited their past earlier this year with the exhaustive "The Early Years 79 – 81" set, and now, showcase their current abilities on "London to Vegas". The new set — available in two-disc Blu-Ray or DVD versions, alongside four CD's in both sets — consists of two full concerts recorded between December 2018 and summer 2019, both showcasing different aspects of the band's catalog.
DEF LEPPARD sold out London's O2 Arena in December 2018 for a concert centered around a full performance of their 1987 commercial smash, "Hysteria". The live arena emphasizes the strengths of the original songs, as the sense of energy and pop catchiness contained in those songs carry this set, along with a loud audience that enthusiastically lends their support on album favorites such as "Pour Some Sugar on Me". The band also sounds incredibly tight, especially on faster-paced rockers such as "Run Riot". Age does creep up a little bit on this performance, as Joe Elliot sounds a little rough on vocals early on, though by the start of "Animal", he is warmed up and stays strong for the rest of the set.
The production side on this specific concert though is a bit generic. Beginning with an overhead shot of the arena and leading into the concert with the standard shot of the band walking out of their dressing room, the video presentation, as well as the in-arena stage production and blocking, feels ripped out of a stock live concert production kit. It's also hard to not see this performance as an unnecessary double-dip, as a full performance of this record was already spotlighted on the 2013 release of "Viva! Hysteria".
The second concert, a summer 2019 performance filmed during the group's 12-show residency at Las Vegas's Planet Hollywood, is the where the money spent on this set will be well-rewarded. Whether it's due to the Las Vegas setting, the set list being much less rigid, or the band simply being in a strong groove, the vibe during this show is much more energetic. Joe Elliot's voice is strong for the entirety of the two-and-a-half-hour set, and the band have more casual interplay with one other. Individual band members get more time to shine here, with guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell and bassist Rick Savage all getting opportunities to walk to the catwalk's front and show off for the front row, as well as Rick Allen getting a spot-lit drum solo.
Songs that crossover from the London show, taking up about half of the Las Vegas set list, have a more raucous and loose energy. The band fills out the show with some deeper cuts, revisiting the '90s with "Slang", throwing back to 1981's "High 'n' Dry" with a performance of "Let It Go", and delivering an infectious cover of SWEET's "Action". An acoustic portion of the show centered around "Two Steps Behind" perhaps runs a bit long, but otherwise, this performance makes anyone who passed on an opportunity to see any of the Las Vegas shows regret that decision.
If DEF LEPPARD released the London show as a stand-alone release, our score here might be a little lower. But the inclusion of the incredibly fun Las Vegas set is what shifts "London to Vegas" from mere product to an essential purchase and is the true showcase of how strong DEF LEPPARD is as a live act today.