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Monday, July 30, 2018

Currently Booming: Journey and Def Leppard Bring Classic Rock 'Hysteria' to Philly Tour Stop (6-11-18 Review)

(Photos: Cate Meighan)

ICYMI-

Philadelphia audiences are always something special. If you are an artist rolling into a local venue then you can pretty much count on having a great gig. I was reminded of this last night as two monsters of rock, Journey, and Def Leppard played a three-hour show that kept the near-capacity crowd on their feet in the Wells Fargo Center. More than 16,000 people showed up to relive a bit of their youth and both bands delivered.

Journey was up first and I really wish that people would back up off of Arnel Pineda. I understand that Steve Perry fans will always rally for him to come back but clearly, he has no interest. Pineda has been slaying on lead vocals for more than a decade.

More than ten years.

I've seen him likened to a Steve Perry impersonator which is crazy to me because nothing that he does will ever be right for a particular group of people. If he nails the lyrics like Perry then he is copying him, but if he were to totally switch it up those same people would say that he ruined the songs. So, let's stick with the solids. Pineda is fantastic. The range of his voice is amazing for tracks like "Separate Ways" and then he has just enough emotion to hit those warm and fuzzy nerves in songs like "Faithfully".


I've also seen some critics question whether or not the band should hang it up already and I have to wonder if they've ever actually seen Journey play because not only do they sound fantastic, but they are clearly enjoying themselves. Neal Schon's TWO guitar solos show why he was considered to be a prodigy by age 15, Jonathan Cain's work on the keys can literally break your heart and Steve Smith with his 70's butterfly collar and yellow Converse will remind you that the drums are absolutely everything in a rock band.



Throw original bassist Ross Valory into the mix and you get some authentic jam band moments that likely grease the wheels of this finely oiled machine.



It was a string of radio hits and that was exactly how the Philly crowd wanted it. They opened with "Separate Ways", barreled through "Stone in Love", slowed things down a bit for "Lights" and "Open Arms" (by the light of cell phones, of course) and then cranked everyone up again for "Don't Stop Believin".



If you came out to see a band that delivers some great classic rock then there is no way that you were left disappointed. Journey still throws down. Period.

It didn't end there. Def Leppard is a long time Philly favorite and you could feel the love for them just while crossing the parking lot. Def Leppard merch was everywhere. People came prepared with their classic t-shirts, pins, and then there was the dude wearing an authentic 80's jean jacket with a huge Hysteria logo ironed onto the back of it.


Yeah, Philly was ready and the band did that thing they do best, they rocked it.


While Arnel Pineda plays with the audience, Joe Elliott commands its' attention- something he has been doing for nearly forty years now. Hysteria is one of those few legendary albums that I still listen to all the way through because each song is somehow better than the one before it. Listening to the band steamroll through songs like "Rocket", "Animal" and of course, "Pour Some Sugar on Me" live never ever disappoints.

Phil Collen is back in the mix after missing a few shows for a family emergency and his guitar solos are some of the best in the business and Vivian Campbell more than pulls his musical weight on the opposite side of the stage. Rick Savage, Def Leppard's bassist since 1982, jams with everyone and has a personality that jumps off of the stage.



So much has been said about drummer Rick Allen losing his arm in a car accident and learning to play in spite of it, but I still think he is underrated. Back there behind the kit, Allen kind of feels like the gorilla glue that holds everything together. Elliott freely admits that the band has "been through some real shit and always comes out the other side" and I think Allen is the living, playing proof that they can overcome anything.



If you love the band's early stuff then you'll be thrilled to know that they march out a string of tunes like "Foolin'" and "Bringing on the Heartbreak" and eventually encore with "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph".




Like I said, Philadelphia loves their rock stars and I'm grateful to have been a part of that love in The Wells Fargo Center. If you're looking for 3 hours of throw down, singalong rock then you need to grab yourself some tickets and catch a show. The Journey and Def Leppard Tour will be rolling across the country until October so check it out!





Journey Setlist


Separate Ways
Only the Young
Be Good to Yourself
Stone in Love
Any Way You Want It
Neal Schon Guitar Solo
Lights
Jonathan Cain piano solo
Open Arms
La Do Da
Steve Smith drum solo
Neal Schon guitar solo 2
Wheel in the Sky
Faithfully
Don't Stop Believin'
Encore
Lovin', Touchin, Squeezin'

Def Leppard Setlist

Rocket
Animal
Foolin'
When Love and Hate Collide
Let's Get Rocked
Armageddon It
Rock On
Two Steps Behind
Man Enough
Love Bites
Bringing on the Heartbreak
Switch 625
Hysteria
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Encore
Rock of Ages
Photograph

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