82°F
weather icon Clear

Def Leppard working ‘the pitch’ in Las Vegas Strip spectacle

You need more than a list of hits and a stack of amps to pull off a Las Vegas Strip residency.

“We’re really aware that it’s in Vegas, and residencies that we’ve been witness to when we were building the stage, the kind of examples we were being shown was stuff like Gwen Stefani, or Cher, or any of these big ones — Britney (Spears), where they’ve got dancers and ramps and explosions and God knows what else,” Def Leppard front man Joe Elliott says. “You can’t just come into Vegas with a rock rig and think that you can get away with it, you know?”

We know, yes. Def Leppard is performing at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater in its “Sin City Residency,” returning Tuesday night and running for nine more dates through Sept. 7. The band opened Wednesday night, unleashing such hits as “Pyromania,” “Animal,” “Foolin,” “Armageddon It,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” “Rock of Ages,” “Hysteria,” and “Photograph.”

The show would have been musically outstanding event as a concert run of those classics. But the band has developed extensive production in the room where Spears, JLo, Pitbull, Backstreet Boys and (currently) Stefani and Christina Aguilera have produced Vegas-scaled spectacles.

Elliott talked of the Vegas run, his inspirations, and his youthful energy in a recent phone chat. The highlights:

Adventure acting: Elliot says he and his band mates get into character before performing the Zappos shows.

It’s a bit like an actor going into one of these blockbuster summer movies, you know? You’ve got to just buy into the fact that it’s going to be a slightly over-the-top production, and we grew up on those. We grew up on Queen, and Pink Floyd, and even AC/DC when the bit of theater just adds to the excitement … So we were willing participants, and dove in feet first, as it were.”

Same-size pitch: It took the band a few minutes to feel comfortable in its opening-night performance Wednesday night.

“It’s a little bit like playing an away game, the pitch (field) is the same size, but it’s not your dressing room. It’s just a different vibe, and it just takes you, maybe, a couple of songs to get your head around,” He said. “… But we’ve been doing it for 42 years, most of us. If you don’t know what you’re doing by then, maybe you should think of changing your occupation.”

Aerosmith is ‘family’: Elliott said he’d only seen photos the Aerosmith staging for its “Deuces are Wild” residency at Park MGM, but he’s feeling the power of that show. “We’ve kind of got an overlapping family, if you like, with Aerosmith, management-wise, and even some of their crew is some of our crew, so we’re well aware of what they were doing. You know, it’s mind blowing. I mean, Aerosmith really went to town. Again, you’ve got to be at least on the same playing field with these guys to have a chance, you know?”

Snap decision on ‘Photograph’: With its vast collection of classics, Def Leppard picked “Photograph” to close the show, splaying snapshots across the LED panels.

“The obvious thing is that through the years you see the different looks, a little bit like we do in a video version of each other in the ‘Hysteria’ song, and we do photographs for ‘Photograph,’ Elliott said. “Up until this Vegas residency, we’ve been using photographs with the celluloid effect where the teeth of an old Kodak camera would catch the film as a boundary around the picture. This time we wanted to update it to the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and go to Polaroid. Now you’ve got all the young kids going, ‘I’ve never seen one of those.’ Nobody has them anymore. Try getting one of them on eBay.”

Rock of ages: Elliott turned 60 on Aug. 1, just a couple weeks before “Sin City Residency” opened.

“It’s funny, I was watching a clip from ‘Die Hard (The Hunter)’ on my iPhone this morning, I’m looking at it, and I’m going, well this was my first gig in my 60’s, and I’m looking at the way that most people see us.. There’s an energy you can see. We don’t look exactly the same as 30 years ago, but we certainly don’t look like we’re tired. I don’t want to call it a youthful energy, but it’s youthful mentally, at least. When we get up on stage, we’re still 18 years old.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts.Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
'In the Dark' at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum - Video
Laurie Thomas, controller for the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, discusses the new exhibit, "In the Dark," in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 9, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Summertime Dole Whip Cocktails
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer at The Venetian has two new Dole Whip cocktails. The Golden Tiki, which offers a line of Dole Whip cocktails, is reopening Wednesday.
Lin-Manuel Miranda says 'Hamilton' criticism is 'fair game'
Lin-Manuel Miranda has responded to people claiming he presented an idealized version of the Founding Fathers. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Charlie Daniels, 'Devil Went Down to Georgia' singer, dead at 83 - Video
Charlie Daniels, the country music star, was struck by a hemorrhagic stroke in Hermitage, Tennessee. His death was confirmed on Monday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jennifer Romas takes her 'Sexxy The Show' to Dreamland Drive-In - Video
Jennifer Romas, producer, director, choreographer and star “Sexxy The Show" at Westgate took her show to Dreamland Drive-In at FreshWata Studios in Las Vegas. The show, which is currently dark at the Westgate, is a benefit for charities Golden Rainbow of Southern Nevada, The Actors Fund and Pawtastic Friends. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Wynn Las Vegas’ ‘re-imagined’ buffet - VIDEO
On June 18, The Buffet at Wynn reopened to customers with what the resort called “a re-imagined all-you-can-eat concept that combines the abundance of the traditional buffet with the benefits of a full-service restaurant.” (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jimmy Kimmel issues public apology for past blackface sketches - Video
On Tuesday, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel took to Twitter to apologize for his blackface impression of NBA star Karl Malone. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged guitar sold for record-breaking $6M - Video
The 1959 Martin D-18E, which was often out of tune, was expected to fetch between $1million and $2 million. The iconic guitar was sold during the online 'Music Icons' sale hosted by Julien's Auctions over the weekend. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joel Schumacher, director of 'Lost Boys' and Batman films, dead at 80 - Video
Schumacher died in New York City after battling cancer for a year. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'We are not a monolith' - Video
Lance Smith, a multidisciplinary artist, talks about how black artists should be acknowledged for their work and not tokenized or only have their work connected to trauma. "Blackness, we are not a monolith, we deserve to live and create in a world that respects us as we are." (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amid protests and pandemic, black artists view works as means to empathy, healing - Video
Erica Vital-Lazare is an artist, writer, sometimes activist and professor at the College of Southern Nevada. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
PodKats! with Ross Mollison
On this edition of PodKats! Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes is joined by the founder of Spiegelworld and producer of Las Vegas Strip shows such as "Absinthe," and "Opium," Ross Mollison.
Paramount pulls 'Cops' series in wake of protests - Video
Paramount Network recently confirmed their decision to cancel the long-running reality show, "Cops." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Restaurants add COVID-19 surcharge - Video
Some Las Vegas Strip restaurants are adding a COVID-19 surcharge to their bills to help offset the additional costs of reopening. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kats hangs at Mayfair Supper Club as Bellagio reopens
Las Vegas Review-Journal man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes visits The Mayfair Supper Club at the Bellagio on the Strip in Las Vegas on the first night after reopening Thursday, June 4, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas performers adapt to pandemic restrictions - Video
The coronavirus pandemic has forced creative people in Las Vegas, a city that thrives on live performance, to adapt to new or changed ways to entertain. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas woman brings Blue Angel to life - Video
When Las Vegas shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, Victoria Hogan created the Blue Angel costume and performance, emulating the statue locals know and love in order to connect with others in a time when connection isn’t as possible. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‘Hamilton’ postponed as Smith Center remains dark indefinitely - VIDEO
The hit musical 'Hamilton' was supposed to run from September through October at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Strip with Kats
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife Gilligan Stillwater GIbbons and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Las Vegas Strip with Kats - Video
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife, Gilligan Stillwater Gibbons, and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ex-WWE star Shad Gaspard found dead on beach - Video
Shad Gaspard, 39, the former WWE wrestler, was found dead Wednesday morning on the shoreline of Venice Beach in California. Gaspard went missing over the weekend. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffets won’t reopen soon, but they may return eventually - VIDEO
In a Tuesday earnings call, Frank Fertitta III, CEO of Station Casinos parent company Red Rock Resorts, said buffets won’t be among the amenities included in the early stages of the resorts’ reopenings. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Hamilton' to debut on Disney+ in July - Video
The film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical was originally set for theatrical release in October. The musical’s director, Tommy Kail, shot three live performances featuring the original Broadway cast. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Little Richard dead at 87 - VIDEO
Little Richard, the pioneer and rock 'n' roll originator, died on Saturday, May 9. His son, Danny Penniman, confirmed the news but the cause of death is unknown. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jerry Stiller, actor and comedian, dies at 92 - VIDEO
Jerry Stiller's son, actor and director Ben Stiller, announced his father's death via Twitter. Jerry Stiller became widely known with a recurring role on "Seinfeld" as Frank Costanza, George's hot-headed father. He also starred on "King of Queens." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wolfgang Puck's Players Locker opens in Downtown Summerlin along with others - VIDEO
Under the governor's orders a few restaurants were able to open their dining rooms in Downtown Summerlin Saturday, May 9. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nicolas Cage to portray Joe Exotic in ‘Tiger King’ TV adaption - VIDEO
Nicolas Cage is headed to television to take on the role of Joe Exotic, the iconic character from the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quarantined! 'The Ghost Adventures' miniseries by Zak Bagans - VIDEO
The four-part miniseries “Ghost Adventures: Quarantine” by Zak Bagans will debut in June on the Travel Channel. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 facts about Cinco de Mayo - VIDEO
The holiday celebrates the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Mexico began the holiday in 1862, but does not recognize it nationally anymore. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kristin Cavallari has already filed for divorce - VIDEO
Kristin Cavallari, the "Very Cavallari" star, announced she and her husband, former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, have separated after seven years of marriage and 10 years together. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Cirque lenders fighting company’s restart plan

According to reports, if Cirque lenders’ effort is turned back, the group would ask to replace Lamarre as Cirque’s CEO and as a board member, along with the rest of the board.