Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Journey and Def Leppard: In Concert

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing one of this summer’s great double bills: Journey and Def Leppard.

It was a night of surprises … and the largest shock actually arrived well before Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge even opened its gates.

The band had announced earlier in the week that Steve Augeri—who has sung the band’s hits since Steve Perry and Journey went their separate ways eight years ago—would miss this Washington, DC-area show and at least several others due to a throat infection.

In his place stood Jeff Scott Soto, who had sung with Journey guitarist/mainstay Neal Schon in several projects but had never sung for Journey before this concert.

Needless to say, the crowd tingled with not only anticipation but also a touch of trepidation. Soto’s exceptional voice, however, provided the second surprise of the night; he nailed nearly every note that Perry had put on vinyl, even those approaching the stratosphere.

Journey—which has collected more than two-dozen top 100 hits in the US since the late 1970s—offered another shocker by starting the show with “Escape,” a relatively unknown album track from the 1981 album of the same name. From that point on, however, the group mostly put on a greatest hits show. The crowd screamed for favorites “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Any Way You Want It,” and the twin ballads that defined thousands of proms during the 1980s, “Open Arms” and “Faithfully.”

The band played the well-known tracks flawlessly, marred only by some irritating feedback during “Ask the Lonely” early in the show.

Schon and company have taken Journey in a far more commercial direction than one would have guessed from his time with Santana more than 30 years ago, but his playing offered flashes of guitar brilliance that justified the competition between Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana for Schon back when he was just a teenage prodigy.

The slowest moment in the set came when keyboardist Jonathon Cain sang lead on a song from the most recent Journey release, Generations. Although his performance wasn’t bad, it reminded fans why Cain doesn’t handle lead vocals more often.

After a brief intermission, Def Leppard took the stage to take the crowd on a virtual trip across the pond.

Those in the audience who held a love/hate relationship with the band for creating two of rock music’s best pop metal albums (1981’s High ‘N’ Dry and 1984’s Pyromania) but then morphing into pathetic purveyors of schlock almost twenty years ago had a nice surprise. The rockers from Sheffield threw them a bone with the opening song of the set, “Let It Go” from High ‘N’ Dry.

These old school fans then wretched, however, as the group turned to pop smash “Let’s Get Rocked,” from the 1992 album Adrenalize. Most of the crowd, of course, went nuts for the song.

Thankfully, the band did not subject the audience to other pop smashes like “Two Steps Behind” and “Have You Even Needed Someone So Bad” that would have slowed the show down.

Instead, Def Leppard focused on up-tempo hits like “Photograph,” “Foolin’,” and “Rock of Ages” from Pyromania. The band played fully half of 1987’s smash album Hysteria: “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” “Love Bites,” “Rocket,” “Armageddon It,” “Animal,” and the title track.

Joe Elliott’s vocals have held up much better than one might suspect after nearly 30 years of pop-metal screaming. His take on Badfinger’s “No Matter What,” a track from the group’s new album of covers, Yeah!, stayed close to the original and sounded great live.

Unless you looked at the frequent big-screen camera shots of drummer Rick Allen’s multi-tasking feet, his solid play might have made you forget about the car accident more than twenty years ago that led doctors to amputate his left arm and learn a new drumming technique.

The band closed with archetypal arena anthem “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” providing a final burst of energy and leaving the crowd as any good rock show should—wanting just a little bit more.

If the Journey/Def Leppard tour is coming to your area, see it. Whether you grew up with this music or discovered its joys after the two bands crested in the 1980s, you won’t be disappointed.


At July 11, 2006 9:40 PM, Anonymous Bar replied to my musings ...

I really like you, David, I do. But right now I am just plain jealous. I've seen both these bands back in the day - but it would have been great to see them together now! And on top of that your Train comment on my blog - I live on the wrong coast, everyone thinks good stuff happens out here, I say BS! Its all in the East, baby. :(

At July 11, 2006 9:44 PM, Blogger Pavel replied to my musings ...

Hi David,

Boy, this post sure did bring back a lot of memories. I grew up in the 80's and loved both Journey and Def Leppard and had most of their albums (that's right: albums!) I never did get to see either one of those great bands in concert, though I always wanted to. Steve Perry was my personal favorite with that incredible voice, my second was Styx lead guy (Dennis deYoung, I think.) He rocked!

Thanks for sharing that incredible night you had!

At July 11, 2006 9:47 PM, Blogger Mimi replied to my musings ...

That is a show I would love to see. Hell I would love to see any show other than the two I have, Tiffany?NKOTB and The Statler Brothers. I really need to see a real show!

At July 11, 2006 11:12 PM, Blogger kim replied to my musings ...

You SUCK. They're coming here and I thought "well, I can wait. It's at UMB which seats eleventy trazillion people." And then it SOLD OUT. Mothertrucker!

At July 12, 2006 12:01 AM, Blogger Pixie replied to my musings ...

Glad you had a great time David :)
It was on the radio the other day that Steve Augeri will be off for quite some time.

At July 12, 2006 2:42 AM, Blogger Sage replied to my musings ...

Thank you so much for the wonderful article. I remember Schon with Carlos and he has always been great.

At July 12, 2006 4:35 AM, Blogger Ben Heller replied to my musings ...

It's good to hear Def Leppard playing some stuff of the pre Hysteria albums. "Pyromania" is still my favourite DL album.

Glad you had a great time, and thanks for the comments on my music site. I'll see what I can do.

At July 12, 2006 6:43 AM, Blogger Curare_Z replied to my musings ...

As you know, DA, I loved the show too. You forgot to tell your lady readers that Jeff Soto was pretty hot too.

My favorite parts of the night were:

(1) "Oh, the Wisteria, Wisteria, Oh it's growin', do you believe it"

(2) Your obsession with Kool-Aid.

At July 12, 2006 8:40 AM, Anonymous Fred Charles replied to my musings ...

I thought that the greatest double bill this year was Ratt and Vince Neil ;)

Glad to hear that you enjoyed the show. Journey have lots of cool tunes. They are one of those bands that are hard to dislike. I wonder if Steve Perry will ever return..

At July 12, 2006 8:45 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Yes, it was a good show. I only wish that Def Leppard would have played more of the older stuff ... although I probably should be happy with what we did get.

Kim: It's not too late--I'm sure you can still get tix from a ticket broker or at the site.

-- david

At July 12, 2006 9:05 AM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

I have always LOVED Def Leppard. I can actually remember having a picture of Joe Elliott (from some teen magazine) taped up on the inside of my locker door in high school.

Thanks for the tip and the trip down memory lane! ;)

At July 12, 2006 9:34 AM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

What's up with lead singers of Journey having big throat problems? Maybe the songs just destroy the vocal chords.

Love "Rock of Ages" and "Rocket." Both great songs. "Pour Some Sugar..." reminds me of 8th grade.

Good times.

At July 12, 2006 10:19 AM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

I played that Escape tape a billion times a week when I was younger. "Stone in Love" was one of the all-time favorites - loved Def Leppard's early stuff too. I sadly have never seen either one of them in concert - - and I call myself an 80s person. tsk tsk. but I wonder if it would be worth driving 6 hours for...that's the closest as they get to me.

At July 12, 2006 10:19 AM, Blogger missy replied to my musings ...

When I saw Journey on the first line I thought I'd read this post whilst listening to Don't Stop Believing! Cool, it works well with the post ;-)

I'm envious, too!

At July 12, 2006 11:33 AM, Blogger starbender replied to my musings ...

I'm sooooooooooo Jealous!

At July 12, 2006 12:18 PM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

When I first hear Augeri sing, I was struck by how much he sounded like Perry, so I'm glad that Soto was able to pick up the temporary mantle. And Def Lep has always been one of my favorite bands. I'm glad you enjoyed the show; sounds like it was a good time.

At July 12, 2006 12:39 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

It is amazing what Rick Allen can do with his feet. I'm not to big on reunion or oldies shows but Def Leppard would definantly be one that I would see.

At July 12, 2006 3:18 PM, Blogger Zen Wizard replied to my musings ...

There was a Rick Dees tidbit that said that the average rocker's voice lasts 9 years--and then they are thrashed.

This subject came up in the context of speculation on how long the Nickelback singer's career will last.

In that case, the coup de grace will probably not be the singer losing his voice, but the homogeny of the songs and the resultant burnout of the listeners and radio programmers.

In the cases of the two aforementioned bands, clearly at least part of their success has been in songwriting or song selection. It's hard to argue with Steve Perry's pipes, however.

At July 12, 2006 5:05 PM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...

also, I do an excellent Rick Allen impersonation on a regular basis. haha. I know, it's bad karma.

At July 12, 2006 9:50 PM, Blogger DaBich replied to my musings ...

I saw Journey about 8 years ago, with Steve Augeri singing the lead. He sounded so much like Steve Perry, I was amazed! Hubby and I are going to see Lynyrd Skynyrd and 3 Doors down Friday, I can't wait!!

And Phoenix, I thought the same thing, they have the same affliction! Weird.

At July 13, 2006 10:00 AM, Blogger Metal Mark replied to my musings ...

Jeff Scott Soto has spent the last twenty years as a journeyman singer for the most part and he is probably most known for his work with Yngwie Malmsteen. He has a great voice and has been a hard worker so I am glad he his getting this break. He was young when he started so he is just now in his early 40's.

At July 13, 2006 12:35 PM, Blogger Blonde Vigilante replied to my musings ...

I saw Journey and Def Leppard last Saturday night. It was a really good concert.

I'm just glad my boobs are big enough to sneak in ariplane bottles of booze. Booze makes everything that much better.

At July 13, 2006 3:27 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

I never really got into Journey.

Did Def Leppard do anything besides No Matter What from their new album?

I'd love to hear them do T-Rex's 20th Century Boy live as it really kicked ass on the CD.

At July 13, 2006 11:39 PM, Blogger Tai replied to my musings ...

Well, that's my entire childhood/teenhood years trotted out in front of me...and you know, it sounds pretty darn good!

At July 14, 2006 4:44 AM, Blogger An80sNut replied to my musings ...

From everything I have heard, Jeff Scott Soto is knocking people over with his vocals during these shows. Great to hear that you felt the same. I caught them with Steve Augeri a few years ago but it would be amazing to see them billed with Def Leppard.

At July 14, 2006 11:11 AM, Blogger LocuTus of Borg replied to my musings ...

Hmmm David, just think I figured out where you live >:P haha The girl that I am dating right now went to that concert too. Her synopsis of the concert was almost exactly like what you wrote. Course I was teasing and said, what they are still alive? lol And yes I got the txt msg late in the evening that just purely stated "Pour Some Suga on Me" haha! Glad you had a nice time!

At July 17, 2006 10:58 PM, Blogger Enemy of the Republic replied to my musings ...

Never could stand Journey. But Def L. kick ass. I'd like to see them with Rush. Wow.

At July 18, 2006 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous replied to my musings ...

I Just discovered Def Lepard and Wen't to the Tampa, FL concert, best concert ever!!! If you have a chance, don't missed it!!!

At July 19, 2006 3:57 PM, Blogger Kid Jacque replied to my musings ...

I saw Def Leppard and Journey last night at the Minneapolis Target Center. It was A M A Z I N G!!! If you have a chance to see this show, you seriously need to check it out!!

Pictures are on my page...

At July 20, 2006 10:44 AM, Blogger Laurie replied to my musings ...

Hey, I like "Let's Get Rocked"!

That concert is sold out here (that's never stopped me) and I've been thinking about getting tix - now you've convinced me!


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