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The real sweat beneath the glamour - 85%

OlympicSharpshooter, October 2nd, 2004

Def Leppard has a well-deserved reputation for sparkling production and fluffy, totally weaksauce balladry that sometimes sees them labelled as metal pariahs on a level usually reserved for the likes of Poison. For that side of them, please move on to the Visualize and Historia section. If you're still here, you know that that is not the side that interests you. If you're still here, then you probably already know that once back in the deep mists of antiquity, Def Leppard could rock your nuts off.

Simply put, this is a strident, muscular live release featuring a massive performance from the ragged voice of Joe Elliott and incendiary leads by guitarists Phil Collen and the incomparable Steve Clark (R.I.P). It's odd to me that the Leps never released a proper live album but I suppose they felt that many of their more, let’s say, looks oriented fans wouldn't care about the thing if they couldn't see their pretty young idols in action.

As with many great live acts, Def Leppard manages to transform the songs on the albums into something new and better. Witness the way "Gods of War" is given a shot of massive metal directly to the spine, a song that on record is written heavy but not played that way. Here it's a hearty headbang with gloomy weight and seriousness. Then it segues into a frenetic ripper in "Die Hard the Hunter". Witness the dirty gang vocals, the crunching guitars, and most of all the insane and maniacal solo from Stevey Clark (who, I swear, could be Dave Mustaine's twin).

"Hysteria", a song on the album that represents pure cyborg glam evil is turned into a warm, virtuosic, organic piece that flows from beautiful almost proggy dreamscapes to a number of memorable mellow solos. "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" too gets a compelling revision featuring Clark on an 18-string Gibson Razor guitar (according to Elliott) and a shining Collen spinning some really fantastic acoustic solos (although the fans really blow the sing-along at one point).

Try not to get chills during "Too Late for Love", and wear a neck brace for the chorus.

Obviously not everything is perfect here as some songs don't translate perfectly to the stage and others simply don't appear ("Let it Go", "Wasted", "High N' Dry (Saturday Night)", etc.), but for the most part this is a top-flight piece of live electricity, and a compelling piece of pure hair metal .

This video is compact and thus it never slows down. Sit back in that easy chair, ease this disc into your DVD player and remember those golden years where metal was king and rocking was fun.

Stand-Outs: "Gods of War", "Die Hard the Hunter", "Hysteria"