One of my favorite YouTube channels at the moment, Sea of Tranquility, did a series throughout the month of March where they created dream setlists for their favorite bands. They didn’t do one for Def Leppard unfortunately, and around the same time, I came across this article from Ultimate Classic Rock from 2011 titled, “Def Leppard Fans Demand Setlist Changes.” With those factors in mind, I decided to create my own dream setlist for Def Leppard because as much as I love Def Leppard, their setlists are pretty predictable. They mostly play stuff from Hysteria (1987), their best-selling album to date, they hardly play anything from their first two albums, and they tossed aside everything they did post-90s.
I compared the setlists for two gigs: one from April 12, 2003 at Beacon Theatre, New York, and one of the dates for their 2019 Vegas Residency at the Zappos Theater on September 7, 2019. Both gigs featured the same 16 songs, and if you include the gig Def Leppard did at Great Stage Park in Manchester on October 12, 2019, that setlist included 13 of the 16 tracks. The common tracks include “Rocket,” “Let’s Get Rocked,” “Hysteria,” “Animal,” “Love Bites,” “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” “Switch 625,” “Two Steps Behind,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Photograph.” Def Leppard is my favorite band of all time, but I complain about them a lot because I know they can do better when it comes to their shows (and most recent studio albums). They can still rock out when they want to, but it seems like something is holding them back from doing so.
Anyways, the people on Sea of Tranquility got creative with their setlists by going back in time to a specific gig with a specific line-up, but with different songs, or they made up their own gigs during a certain time period in the band’s career. It didn’t matter if some of the members weren’t alive anymore because anything can happen in a dream. However, out of respect for the current members, I’ll stick with the current Def Leppard line-up, which consists of Joe Elliott on lead vocals, Rick Savage on bass guitar, Rick Allen on drums, and the two guitarists Phil Collen and Vivian Campbell.
The gig would take place during the summer of 2022 in Hawaii at Blaisdell Arena. But why Hawaii? Because I’m from Hawaii and I missed them when Def Leppard came to Hawaii back in October 2018; I got into the band a year later and again due to poor timing, I missed their 2019 Vegas residency as well. So this dream gig would make up for those previous gigs that I missed. The dream concert in Hawaii would be the final stop on their summer 2022 world tour, which is titled, “Embracing Our Past.”
The show officially starts at 8:00 p.m., everyone gets in their seats, and then the intro to “Die Hard the Hunter” comes on, which is the first song of the night. When they played that song as the opener for their Vegas shows, I thought that was such a bada** way to start the show, so I said to myself, “why not bring it back for this setlist?” After “Die Hard the Hunter,” we’re going to keep the focus on Pyromania (1983) for a bit by jumping into “Comin’ Under Fire,” and the crowd goes wild because the band had never performed that live before until this tour, so this was huge! Then Def Leppard goes into “Stagefright,” another killer track from Pyromania that the boys hadn’t played in years, with the exception of Viva! Hysteria (2013).
After “Stagefright,” Campbell starts shredding on the opening riff for “Answer to the Master;” that’s right people, I said it, they’re bringing in the rarities from their first album. Continuing with songs from On Through the Night (1980), the band jumps into “It Don’t Matter,” followed by “Rock Brigade,” which they haven’t played since Viva! Hysteria. Moving onto High ‘n’ Dry (1981), the band performs “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night),” and everyone is losing their minds by this point, including me, because that riff is pure gold!
“You Got Me Runnin’” is next and Campbell nails Pete Willis’ guitar solo! They already played two of my favorite songs from High ‘n’ Dry, what more could I ask for? Oh yeah, “Lady Strange,” followed by “Another Hit and Run;” we’re bringing on the headbangers for the first part of the setlist. Props to Allen for still kicking a** on the drums with one arm because those first two Def Leppard albums are intense.
The lights go down for a bit and then they come back on. Elliott introduces the members one by one, and then, the acoustic set begins. The first song on the acoustic set is “Where Does Love Go When It Dies,” which is followed by “Move with Me Slowly,” the Japanese bonus track from Slang (1996). Continuing on songs from Slang, the boys perform “All I Want is Everything,” before jumping into “Tonight,” a beautiful ballad from the Adrenalize (1992) album.
The lights go down and Def Leppard gets into position for their next song, “Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion).” The lights go up once again and Elliott begins the first verse to this underrated track that has never been performed live. After “Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion),” the boys do the greatest thing ever, they perform “White Lightning,” but not before showing a pic of Steve Clark in the background to honor him. The setlist is too good to be true as they played my favorite Def Leppard song of all time, which they haven’t played since the Adrenalize tour. The band then performs “Long, Long Way to Go” from the X (2002) album.
To pick up the pace, Def Leppard rocks out to “Cry,” a banger from the previously mentioned X album. Then Collen plays the opening riff to “Hallucinate,” a rocking track from Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008). Don’t worry casual fans, I included a couple tracks from Hysteria, starting with the title track, followed by “Armageddon It.” I love “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” but Def Leppard should give that song a rest once in a while.
The lights go down and then the band comes back out for their encore, starting with “Undefeated,” one of their best newer (or newish) tracks, courtesy of Mirror Ball – Live & More (2011). Next up is “Rock of Ages,” which is overplayed, but it is a classic. Besides, I have to cheer Collen on when he does his solo before the last chorus; it’s a must! Finally, closing off the show, we get “I Wanna Touch U,” another track from Adrenalize (1992). I’ve always felt the latter would make a great closing track for Def Leppard’s gigs because it has that celebratory vibe that makes you want more, but unfortunately, good things must come to an end.
There you have it! That is my dream setlist for Def Leppard, featuring a lot of old stuff and some newer stuff. Not all of their albums are included in this setlist, but I think it’s a good amount of stuff the band did throughout their career.
Def Leppard, if you’re reading this, I love you guys, but it’s time you guys make some changes to your setlist. You don’t necessarily have to go extreme with the rarities because I know it’s a lot of work to change the setlist often with the production and lighting. But consider giving your other albums a chance and give Hysteria a break, or at least bring back “White Lightning” to the setlist. There is a way to please the hardcore fans and the casual fans at the same time, you guys just need to find a balance between the two (some rarities mixed in with the hits). Don’t toss aside everything you’ve done for the past 40 years to please the casual fans!
Feel free to comment below your dream setlist for Def Leppard!
Take care and see ya real soon!