Def Leppard Announce 2019 Las Vegas Residency
Def Leppard are heading back to Las Vegas in 2019, announcing their new "Def Leppard Hits Vegas: The Sin City Residency" set to take place in August and September.
The band will take over the Zappos Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas beginning Aug. 14. The Zappos Theater was named in February 2018 as part of a multi-year partnership between Caesars Entertainment and Zappos.com, with the theater becoming the first true nexus of nightlife and live concert-style entertainment in Las Vegas.
Def Leppard will spend a majority of a month playing dates for fans, with appearances scheduled for Aug. 14, 16, 17, 20, 23, 24, 29 and 31, as well as Sept. 1, 4, 6 and 7. Tickets for the "Def Leppard Hits Vegas: The Sin City Residency" will go on sale Friday, Feb. 22 at 10AM PT / 1PM ET and can be purchased online through Ticketmaster or in person at the Planet Hollywood box office.
The group previously played a residency in Las Vegas a few years back with their "Viva Hysteria" run. We had a chance to speak with guitarist Vivian Campbell ahead of the announcement about the upcoming residency, and also got his thoughts on the band's upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Check out more in our chat below the residency trailer.
You’ve done a residency once before in Las Vegas. Can you talk about what you learned from the Viva Hysteria run you had there and what you might or might not apply to doing another run of shows there?
It was interesting. It was the first time we’d ever done something like that, and you really get to dial in your show when you’re performing in the same environment for multiple nights. It was kind of surreal for us to get to sleep in the same beds for once night after night and yet still be on tour. It was a strange concept. (laughs)
I’m not entirely sure yet how we’re going to present this show. We’ve yet to actually sit down, the five of us, and discuss the creative aspect of the full production of it. One of the great things about the first residency that we did in Vegas was the fact that we were our own opening act—Dead Flat Bird—the world’s greatest Def Leppard cover band. That was great fun for me.
It was a lot of work cause we really had to dig deep into the band’s catalog and play songs and some of them were really, really obscure. So getting back in there and having to learn stuff was a little beyond our normal comfort zone, but it was very, very rewarding, and I thoroughly enjoyed that.
Every show Dead Flat Bird played something different than the previous show, which kind of was in contrast to the Def Leppard aspect of the performance. We did Hysteria, and it was exactly the same thing note for note doing the Hysteria album in sequence. So it was nice. It was challenging, but very, very rewarding, and I hope we get the chance to do something like that again this time around.
You said you haven’t had a chance to discuss themes yet, but is there an idea for you personally of what you’d like to present this time around?
Well, it had always been proposed, ‘Hey, you did Hysteria. Why don’t you do Pyromania in sequence?’ But let me tell ya, that would be a short show. That album’s only 30-something minutes of music. Even doing the Hysteria album came in at I wanna say 42 minutes or something. So we have to pad the show. You have to build around it. You can’t just play one album and say goodnight. People would feel very cheated. So it becomes a multi-faceted thing, and you have to think about how to present an entire evening. That’s why we initially had the Dead Flat Bird aspect of it and broke it up into two parts. Whatever we do, I think we’re going to have to do something similar to that.
It’s going to have to be a two-part presentation to really make it a night to remember. And that’s the thing, when you’re doing a residency in Las Vegas, you can approach it differently than a regular show. Vegas allows us a lot of leeway to step out of our comfort zone and do something different than what we’d normally do.
But like I say, we’ve actually yet to get to that. We saw each other right before Christmas when we finished last year’s tour in London on Dec. 18. At that point we all knew we were going to do the Vegas residency, but we kind of neglected to sit down and discuss the finer aspects of what exactly it’s going to entail. But we’ll get to that. We have this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing coming up at the end of March and we’ll be together in New York for about five days prior to that rehearsing and doing some TV and press, so I imagine that’s when it’ll all coalesce and start putting pen to paper and think about this.
With a residency, you can kind of craft things more to your liking onstage. As a musician, is there a must-have or a perfect environment for you to play?
Not really. There’s no such thing as the “ideal.” You can plan everything you want, but the minute you walk onstage in front of an audience, it’s entirely different. You can rehearse literally for days weeks and months and finesse every aspect of the performance and the technical aspect of it, and as soon as you walk in front of an audience, it goes to hell in a handbag. If nothing else, I’ve learned that over my years.
Every show is different, even in a residency setting. We walk on the same stage every night, but it’s still not the same. The audience is always different. And this is just a personal thing to me, but I tend to engage an audience probably a little bit more than I should, probably to the detriment of my professional performance. I get very distracted by the audience, and I keep telling myself to ignore them and to play to the back row and not the front row, but when I see people and I see them looking at me, there’s a certain part of me in my upbringing that I feel obliged to acknowledge them to a certain extent, like you want to thank them, but then I start getting distracted cause I start reading what people have written on their T-shirts and stuff (laughs), and then I start making mistakes, but that’s just a personal thing. I know my bandmates are much more professional about these things. It’s something I’ve done all my life. I’m still trying to teach myself to not do that sort of thing.
You played in other bands prior to Def Leppard, and I’m sure you were a fan coming into this band. Were there any songs in particular when you knew you were going to join where it was like, “I can’t wait to have a crack at that on a nightly basis."
Yeah, I was a fan of Def Leppard. Even before the first album, I had the ‘Wasted’ single and then I got the first record, second record, the third and so on. I didn’t know any of the guys other than Joe [Elliott] prior to joining the band. I didn’t even know Joe in a musical capacity. We knew each other socially through mutual friends in Dublin, and I’m from Belfast in the north of Ireland and it was way back, I’d go see Joe and we’d have a drink together and dinner together. Joe would call me when he’d come to Los Angeles looking for a pickup soccer game on a Sunday.
So yeah, I was a Leppard fan, and this was back when they were in really hard rock music, and then particularly with the Pryomania record and continuing with the Hysteria record. That was a total game changer. With Hysteria, I remember buying that record on cassette at first and playing it so much that it kind of lost a bit of its sheen on the cassette. It was also one of the first CDs I bought after I purchased my first CD player. That was the new technology at the time and Hysteria was such a great album to listen to in that format.
“Gods of War” was really the song for me. I remember the first time I heard it, I thought, “That’s a really nice chorus,” and then the next part comes along and it’s like, “Oh, that wasn’t the chorus.” There were all these extra parts in the song and that song in particular really was a great rock song with these great guitar parts that Steve Clark wrote. The way that Mutt had helped them to put together the songs and that one in particular, it was almost like it was a song-plus. It had this particular chorus. I’ve always really enjoyed playing that one.
I really do enjoy playing a lot of Steve’s songs, the song you can tell where there was some sort of an idea that Steve had brought to the table. He had a very Jimmy Page-influence guitar riff. For me as a guitar player, it would always be exciting to go a little bit deeper on some of the album cuts, “Too Late for Love,” or something like that.
I still very much appreciate the more pop-inspired songs as that’s what’s attracted so many people to Def Leppard is that sensibility, and I’m a big melodic fan myself. I won’t even say I’m a closeted Crowded House fan. I’m very proud about that and I always have been. I do appreciate the more melodic vocals and melodies and all that stuff and I can marry that with my love of aggressive rock guitar and stuff in Def Leppard. That’s just one aspect of what makes Def Leppard such a unique band.
With the Rock Hall coming up, what does it mean to be mentioned alongside some of the all-time greats and is there anyone in particular in the Rock Hall that inspired or influenced you along the way?
To be honest, I’m not really too sure who else is in the Hall of Fame. I don’t know a lot about it. On a personal level, I never really paid a lot of a attention to those sort of things. With Leppard, we have such an incredible fan base and we see so many faces come to our tours over the course of the years. You look at the front row and it’s a little like déjà vu. Weren’t these people at last week’s show, or they’re there a week or a month later. So that’s not to say we’re playing to the same people. I’m happy to say that we’re playing to multiple generations of fans and it’s really exciting. But our fan base has been really loyal and very supportive of us, and that’s kind of been more something I noticed than anything or any award. In connection with that, we’re very, very thrilled to be in the Hall of Fame and to have one of the biggest ever popular votes to help put us there. So that kind of really resonates more with us.
Personally, and this goes back to before I was with Def Leppard, buying the Hysteria album and it being such a game changer of an album and seven singles came off the record, and I remember thinking at the time, and this is me, not as a member of Def Leppard but a fan of Def Leppard thinking that it was quite obscene almost that back then in 1987, 1988, not only did Def Leppard not win a Grammy, but they weren’t even nominated. I remembered back then that it kind of sowed a seed in my mind that what are these awards really worth? If you can do this great body of work like Def Leppard had just done with Hysteria coming off the back of Pyromania, which in itself was a multi-million selling record, it just kind of made me weary of those sort of things.
Fast forwarding to the end of 2018, it does feel very grown up that we’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame, or are about to be. It feels, in a way, very legitimizing, after all these years that Def Leppard is finally receiving some sort of recognition from the industry. But I’m very happy to say that in the years prior to that we’ve known, and we’ve always known, that we’ve deeply had the appreciation of our fan base. That’s always something that we’ll take above any sort of accolade.
I have to ask this and I realize you may not want to divulge this, but with the Rock Hall coming up, has there been a discussion of what your set will be for the night?
I can guarantee that it won’t be obscure (laughs). We’re there because of the really big songs, so I’m sure you’ll hear some of those, but I wouldn’t want to say beyond that.
With this residency, and I know you all have your other projects which have been taking some time of late, but might there be any new music worked up for this residency?
We’re not that kind of band where we’re that spontaneous. Even though there might be five people in the audience who might appreciate hearing something new, we’ve always been very cognizant that we play to the majority of people and that the majority of people want to hear big Def Leppard hits. We’re very fortunate that we have a lot of them. But we’re not that spontaneous where we’d do something like that.
I do know that there are some new song ideas floating around. Now as to when we might get into the studio and actually record them, I really don’t know. Nobody set a date for that and I don’t imagine it’s going to be this year.
That’s because when we’re not doing Def Leppard things, we all go off and do other things. I’m in a hotel room right now in Milwaukee and we’re playing a show here with Last in Line, which is my project. Phil [Collen] has a side project called Delta Deep and Joe has a band called the Down N’ Outz and we do these things, it’s kind of exciting because we play clubs. With Def Leppard, we play stadiums and sold out arenas around the world and then we go off and do these side projects and you find yourself in a club playing to three or four or five hundred people and eating cheese sandwiches and staying in crappy hotels. It’s certainly not very glamorous and we don’t do it for the money, but I think it speaks about the excitement we still have about what we do and that passion.
We do these things and they’re cathartic to us, at least to me personally, it really brings me great joy to do this with Last in Line. It also makes me refreshed when I go back to Def Leppard, and I think that Phil and Joe feel the same way coming back from their side projects. You step back into Def Leppard and it kind of renews you and the batteries are recharged. You are what you do and I think that core element is still very apparent in Def Leppard that we still get thrilled by doing this. We still love playing in front of people and there’s nothing better than playing in front of a live audience. That’s the ultimate thrill and that’s why I think we all started this in the first place. So we’ll do it for the Hall of Fame, we’ll do it for a lot of money, but we’ll also do it for free.
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