Tuesday, June 13, 2017 | 2 a.m.
The last time Def Leppard was in Las Vegas was four years ago, when the English rockers who have been doing it for 40 years now were playing their Viva Hysteria residency at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.
“It was great. We got to live in Vegas for a month,” says guitarist Phil Collen. “Honestly I thought we’d get more time to do the stuff people come to Vegas for, see shows and all that stuff. But we were so busy. Because we were playing [hit album] Hysteria straight through for one set, we had 30 songs we had to get down and it was a very different experience. Doing the album was a bit more theatrical than the tour experience. But it’s quite lovely at this point in your career to be able to do different things.”
Def Leppard is back in Vegas this weekend for a big tour stop at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 17 (find ticket info here) and Collen, who’s earned a reputation for waking up early in order to take in some local culture in as many cities as possible, is hoping to get some more regular Vegas time. He compared the craziness here to the European party capital of Ibiza, another destination he sort of missed. “Because we were rehearsing at night and a lot of the clubs don’t open until midnight, we didn’t see any of that, it was just the beautiful island in the daytime and everyone was sleeping. I’ve seen a little bit of that in Vegas as well.”
Def Leppard’s current three-month North American tour will end up as something of a warm-up for a planned world tour next year. Known for 1980s megahits like “Photograph,” “Rock of Ages,” “Love Bites” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” the band has maximized its body of work — perhaps more efficiently than many of its rock peers — through constant touring over the years. Then again, they’ve got a ton of hits. “We put so much effort into three albums — Pyromania, Hysteria and Adrenalize — because we were trying to make something everlasting,” Collen says. “There’s a balance, a certain integrity we have, and I think finally a lot of people are understanding everything that went into it. But I also feel like we get better every year. I definitely sing and play better this year than last, and Joe [Elliott] is singing better than ever.”
Collen also produced the upcoming album from Def Leppard’s current opening act, Sacramento band Tesla and ’80 hair-metal gods Poison are providing additional support on the tour.