weather icon Clear

Def Leppard returns to Las Vegas with new residency

There was that time in Las Vegas when Def Leppard got flak for not being Def Leppard. Even though they were, in fact, Def Leppard.

“The Thunder God” remembers it well.

The British hard rockers were kicking off a residency at The Joint at the Hard Rock in spring 2013.

Exclusive to the engagement, the band constructed a two-set show where Def Leppard would warm the stage for itself, essentially.

“We are your opening act for the evening, ladies and gentleman, our name is Ded Flatbird, and we are the best Def Leppard cover band in the world,” frontman Joe Elliott announced during one of the concerts, dropping a pseudonym that was a nod to a mispronunciation of the group’s name back in the day.

But, with Elliott semi-incognito in shades and a top hat, and the band playing deep album cuts and rarities, a few of which they’d never aired live, some crowd members didn’t know just who it was they were seeing.

“I think a lot of people in the audience didn’t realize it was us, because we sort of put on a disguise,” recalls drummer Rick Allen, he of the aforementioned Thor-worthy nickname. “In fact, I think we got a few boos here and there.”

From jeers to cheers

In hindsight, though, Def Leppard has mostly been applauded for that stint: Of all the Las Vegas residencies, it still stands out for a show that was truly unique to the market.

Sure, plenty of bands have tweaked their setlists a bit or added a production flourish or two for their extended stays in Vegas. But oftentimes, the shows aren’t radically different from what you’d see at any given tour stop.

Def Leppard took the opposite tack, though, doing something it had never done, including revisiting a chestnut such as “Good Morning Freedom,” which the band hadn’t done in 33 years.

It was a show you could only see in Vegas.

This was the point.

“In an audience like that, where it’s normally the real die-hard fans, we figured we could play anything we wanted to and everybody would be happy,” Allen explains. “Sometimes when you’re out and you’re doing huge shows or you’re on a tour, you’re limited by time, and then the other thing is that people expect you to play all the really well-known songs.

“This was a great opportunity for us to play songs that, in some cases, I hadn’t played since I had two arms, which was fantastic,” adds Allen, whose left arm was amputated after a 1984 car wreck.

Revamped residency

For its latest 10-show run in town, Def Leppard is switching properties, relocating to the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort.

Moreover, longtime visual artist Allen will have some of his paintings displayed in the balcony and for sale in the nearby Zappos store.

The pieces will be culled from Allen’s “Legends & Dreams 2019” collection, which consists of lifelike yet impressionistic portraits of musicians who have influenced him, from Jimi Hendrix to Freddie Mercury to John Lennon.

Though Allen has been painting since he was a boy in his native Sheffield, England, only in recent years has he started to share his art publicly — at the behest of his clutter-averse wife.

“She was like, ‘We don’t have room for any of this stuff. You need to show it,” the 55 year-old Allen says. “I told her, ‘I’m afraid. I’m afraid that people are going to judge me or that they’re going to say, “Oh, yeah, just another musician trying to be an artist.” ’

“And then when I showed people what I was doing and the positive response I got, it was like, ‘I’m doing the right thing,’ ” he continues. “If I hadn’t shed that fear, I don’t think any of the pieces that I create would ever be finished. At a certain point, you’ve got to go, ‘It’s done. Show people what you’re doing.’ ”

It was another loved one who helped Allen loosen up creatively.

“I started painting with my youngest daughter and I realized that when she painted, she painted without any rules. When it was done, it was done,” he says. “I was like, ‘That’s really cool. I really want to paint like that.’ I realized that when I started to paint without rules, it sent me to the same place that I go to when I play music. What it told me was that no matter what you do, you can find this place, this zone, that makes you feel like you’re completely in the moment. That’s exactly what the art does for me now.”

New inspiration

Of course, there’s still the whole touring the world in one of the biggest hard rock bands ever thing that occupies a good deal of Allen’s time.

Def Leppard’s upcoming residency sees the band moving indoors after spending much of the summer on the European festival circuit prior to a recent Canadian tour.

This time around, the group is getting new inspiration from old friends.

“We’ve known the Aerosmith guys for a long time, and I feel the way they’re approaching their Vegas residency is really unique,” Allen says. “We look at their production and go, ‘How the hell are these guys making any money?’ It’s massive.

“So we’re like, ‘OK’, not wanting to compare ourselves or upstage what they’re doing, but kind of taking a leaf out of their book and going, ‘Let’s make this really special,’ ” he continues. “We feel like we can present a unique experience, that nobody outside of that room in Vegas is ever going to experience ever again. We want people to go away with a lasting memory.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Terra Rossa Returns To Red Rock. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terra Rossa at Red Rock Resort is set to open on Aug. 26.
Hubert Keller’s Backyard Kitchen
Chef Hubert Keller of Fleur and Burger Bar shows off his backyard kitchen in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Watermelon Mojitos and Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar in Las Vegas
Bartender Cassy Leedom and Chef Norberto Ortega make a Watermelon Mojito and Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas celebrates National Fajita Day
Cook Ruben Fuentes and general manager Taylor Pulliam of Juan’s Flaming Fajitas in Las Vegas prepare steak and shrimp fajitas with the restaurant’s signature fiery treatment. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pasta Shop Ristorante serves a watermelon-shrimp salad
Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson serves a summer salad that combines watermelon with greens, feta and shrimp. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Factory Kitchen in Las Vegas makes classic affogato
Jorge Luque, pastry chef at The Factory Kitchen at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes affogato with two simple ingredients - house-made gelato and fresh espresso. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review Journal with image from The Factory Kitchen)
The Cereal Killerz Kitchen serves over 100 cereals
Christopher Burns, owner of The Cereal Killerz Kitchen at Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson, makes a Milk & Cookies Shake from his more than 100 varieties of cereal. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Las Vegas makes a State Fair CrazyShake
Bianca Zepeva, a shaker at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer at The Venetian in Las Vegas, makes a State Fair CrazyShake with a kettle corn rim, caramel, corn-based ice cream, popcorn brittle, crushed kettle corn, sprinkles and a cherry. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Balboa Pizza Company makes Thai peanut chicken wings
Irma Perez, kitchen manager at Balboa Pizza Company at The District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, near Las Vegas, brines chicken wings for 24 hours before roasting and frying them and finishing them in various styles such as Thai peanut. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
New Venetian pool deck
Final touches are currently being added to the hotel’s main tower pool deck, which consists of five pools. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who is Vegas Vic? (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada State Museum Director Dennis McBride explains the origins of the Vegas icon.
Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas serves a 4-pound Big Island Feast Burger
Cindy Sun, general manager of Slater’s 50/50 in Las Vegas, makes the Big Island Feast Burger with 2 1/2 pounds of the house bacon/beef blend, Napa-cilantro slaw, six slices of American cheese, a can of grilled Spam, six slices of chargrilled pineapple, four fried eggs and a drizzle of teriyaki and serves it with macaroni salad. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
Shark Week cupcakes at Freed’s Bakery in Las Vegas
Brittnee Klinger, a cake decorator at Freed’s Bakery in Las Vegas, makes Shark Week cupcakes with ocean-blue buttercream, fondant fins and a blood-red strawberry filling. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fans and friends recall Elvis opening in Las Vegas
Fifty years ago on July 31st 1969, Elvis Presley opened at the International hotel in Las Vegas. He went on to do 837 consecutive sold-out shows at the property.
Hot peach cobbler at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station
Michael Ross, room chef/pitmaster at Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen at Texas Station in Las Vegas, makes peach cobbler by baking peaches in a cast-iron pan with batter and crumble, then topping with Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream and bourbon-caramel sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Water Grill opens at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas
Water Grill, from a 30-year-old California company opening its first Las Vegas location, specializes is fresh seafood including 16 types of oysters. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cat's Meow comes to Las Vegas
New Orleans-based karaoke chain opens new location in Neonopolis. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas
Manny Menina, line cook at Broken Yolk Cafe in Las Vegas, stacks 8 ounces of beef, 2 strips of bacon, hash browns, caramelized onions and 2 fried eggs on 4 King’s Hawaiian slider buns to make the Loco Moco Breakfast Burger. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SecretBurger at China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Carlos Cruz, executive chef of Jose Andres’ China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, makes the SecretBurger off-menu, one-night-only ‘All Quacked Up’ with a kimchi pancake, Peking duck, house-made hoisin sauce, a fried duck egg, pickled micro-vegetables, caviar and gold flakes and serves it with a Stillwater Artisanal Ale. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Famous Blue Angel statue commemorated in downtown Las Vegas mural
The 16-foot tall Blue Angel statue that stood above the Blue Angel Motel for six decades is featured in a mural spanning three walls at a downtown Las Vegas building. James Stanford designed the “A Phalanx of Angels Ascending" mural based on his photography, and Cliff Morris painted the mural at 705 Las Vegas Blvd. North, near the Neon Museum. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Making Castle Frites at the new Frites at Excalibur
Tom McGrath, district manager/executive chef at Frites at the Excalibur in Las Vegas, tops his beef-tallow fries like a loaded baked potato - with white and yellow cheddar, sour cream, bacon and chives. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hello Kitty Cafe on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
The Hello Kitty Cafe opens Friday, July 12th, 2019, between New York, New York and Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Amano Las Vegas' Fat Baby Sandwich
Chef Jason Weber of Amano Las Vegas has created a sandwich stuffed with pasta, and it's a hit. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A class at Melissa Coppel Chocolate and Pastry School in Las Vegas.
Melissa Coppel, who teaches classes in various countries around the world, attracts students from far and wide to her eponymous school in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Havana Lobster at Boteco in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marcus Fortunato, co-owner of Boteco in Las Vegas, learned to make Havana Lobster from the chef at El Figaro, a favorite of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.
Chef Gustav Mauler Is retiring
Las Vegas chef Gustav Mauler announces his retirement on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Bellagio Conservatory unveils Italian summer exhibit
The Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens have opened the gates to its summer display. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
A.D. Hopkins on his debut novel
Veteran journalist introduces readers to “The Boys Who Woke Up Early.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seven Magic Mountains restoration complete
Artist Ugo Rondinone’s iconic Seven Magic Mountains receives a complete painting restoration in June 2019.
Jason Aldean announces shows on Las Vegas Strip

Jason Aldean has mused for years about a run in Las Vegas. He’s found his spot at Park Theater on Dec. 6-8 with “Ride All Night.”