Friday, 20 September 2013

Review: Def Leppard - Viva! Hysteria

World of Blackout Film Review

Viva! Hysteria Poster

Def Leppard - Viva! Hysteria
Cert: PG / 92 mins / Dir. Christian Lamb

As concert movies*1 go, Viva! Hysteria is a low-frills affair. A five-minute montage of archival footage precedes the show itself, and then it's straight in to the Hysteria album. The band's collective foot stays firmly on the pedal throughout, and there's no downtime until the credits roll. It's a tight performance, and while the use of the catwalk to extend the cage really does reduce the size of the room to an intimate level, the band don't seem as relaxed as you'd expect in the setting. There's precious little in the way of chatting between songs, and the few moments where the audience are encouraged to interact with the show stand out as the highlights for me.

Maybe UK and US audiences are different (and admittedly, a Las Vegas residency isn't strictly playing to the band's own hardcore fanbase), but as the show is a celebration of Def Leppard's most commercially successful album, it would have been nice to have had a commentary at a few points, with Joe and the boys chatting about the writing/recording process and giving more of an insight into making the album itself. Maybe that'll be packaged into the DVD release as a documentary. Maybe I just ask too much.

But as I said, the show itself is solid and shows evidence of being tightly honed. I think it does suffer a little as a standalone feature; the Vegas shows featured Hysteria as the second half*2, with a another set being played beforehand to get things warmed up. Coming in at this halfway point puts the cinema and home audiences at a disadvantage, as Hysteria isn't the crescendo of their night, it has to include the build-up as well.
Because when Phil Collen is halfway up the catwalk playing a solo with his eyes closed, on his knees, with his shirt off and covered in baby oil, and it's only the opening song, where do you go from there? How do you turn that up, Phil? Hmmm?

Oh, and at one point, an entire five seconds passed in which I couldn't see a member of the band sporting some version of the Union Jack, and within that time I completely forgot which country they come from. Thankfully, this was immediately rectified*3.

On a more serious note, the only thing that actually spoiled it for me was the sound (which is sort of a biggie when you're watching a music performance). Far too much top-end on the drums meant that the cymbals frequently drowned out everything except the kick-drums, and for some reason the lead guitar was way louder than everything else. I'm not just talking about Phil Collen's lead guitar, either. When Vivian Campbell played lead riffs, his was also too loud. It's ironic that a band who became famous for their clinically over-produced sound now appear to be mixed by the guy who does the Karaoke on a Sunday afternoon. In addition to the mix-levels, there was also that fluttering effect you get with MP3 compression (made worse by the aforementioned cymbals). Usually I'd question the audio equipment in the cinema over this type of problem, but when the album version of Hysteria plays over the closing credits*4, it sounds absolutely fine.
Far too loud, but fine. I'm not an audiophile, but I expect more than this.

If I haven't completely put you off, I believe there still some cinema showing scheduled in the UK (check with your local), otherwise you can wait a month or so and buy it to watch at home.

Viva! Hysteria looks like a great live show; but I don't think this is a great recording of one…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Pretty much.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Well, ...ish.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
For me, no; your mileage will vary.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
If you're hardcore, you'll be at the cinema anyway. DVD should do anyone else who's interested.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
Segments probably, but not the whole thing.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Are his cheeks meant to be that colour?

*1 Or just 'live DVDs' to be fair, as the primary market for this release will be home video sales.
*2 Again, it'd be nice to see the other half of the set on the home-release. Again, I want the moon on a stick.
*3 And while I'm on needlessly taking the piss, Joe Elliott looks like a geography teacher on Stars in their Eyes, and Phil Collen looks like a builder who's watched The Full Monty too many times. There, I said it.
*4 Why, please? We've just seen the band do a great rendition of the entire album; why repeat one of the tracks over the credits? And if you must do it, why use a track that's longer than the credit sequence so it gets rudely cut-off at the end? Did you have to finish this in a hurry or something?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. The CD/DVD/Blu-ray to be released on 21 October in the UK (different dates for other countries) will contain an additional 15 songs. Those songs are from the 29 March and 30 March opening sets by Ded Flatbird. :)