15 August 2018 (gig)
21 August 2018
If you were anywhere near the Boston area this past weekend, it was pretty hard to avoid the presence of Def Leppards Joe Elliott, as he was all over the place. While Def Leppard did officially perform on a scheduled double bill with Journey at Bostons Fenway Park on Saturday August 11, 2018 - Elliott also made an appearance the night before at the same venue and sang, "Pour Some Sugar On Me," with Billy Joel and his band (Joel gave a spectacular show at Fenway Park on August 10th).
Cloudy skies (not to mention heavy early afternoon showers) and the threat of rain hung over Fenway all night Saturday - but save for a few drops very early in the evening, the expected downpours fortunately never appeared during the show. An entertaining opening power-pop set from Cheap Trick (who pulled out a great new song. "The Summer Looks Good on You"), was the perfect warm up act for Def Leppard.
One of rocks most tenacious bands, Def Leppard has sported the same line-up since 1991, due to the untimely passing of guitarist and original member, Steve Clark that year. Opening with a barrage of classics, "Rocket," "Animal," and "Foolin'," the quintet were a well oiled machine. Following up with, "When Love and Hate Collide" a lesser known cut the band recorded for its greatest hits collection "Vault," briefly slowly the intensity down, but quickly recaptured it with the superb, "Armageddon It," and an interpretation of David Essexs "Rock On" (form 2006s "Yeah!," which was Def Leppards disc of cover tunes), during which bassist Rick Savage really got to shine.
The acoustic, "Two Steps Behind," had the band kind of revisiting the "unplugged" days and was quite well received, but 1981s "Bringin' on the Heartbreak," took the night back into overdrive, especially as it was the song that initially introduced the band to its US audience.
Def Leppard ended their set with the mammoth "Pour Some Sugar on Me," before a double shot from 1983's iconic "Pyromania" album, with "Rock of Ages" and a stellar "Photograph" (apparently a bit of a running theme in the early 80s was obsession over magazine models, as Van Halen brought the same topic to vinyl the year after "Pyromanias" release with their hit, "I'll Wait"). While it's hard to believe that Def Leppard was initially formed 41 years ago - time had not diminished them at all, as they easily proved at Fenway, their power as a live act only improves.
Journey currently boasts four of the five members of its classic line-up (guitarist Neal Schon, bassist Ross Valory, drummer Steve Smith, and keyboardist/guitarist Jonathan Cain). However, the elephant in the room during the entire show is the one member who is still missing-in-action, former singer Steve Perry.
Now, current vocalist Arnel Pineda is marvelous. He is blessed with a pre-eminent set of pipes and no one could do a better job filling in for Perry...but, he is not Perry. But since Perry currently does not want to perform with Journey, the band could not have made a better choice for a replacement vocalist. Pineda didn't miss a note from the duel opening "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" and "Only the Young" (a song for which the 1985 film, "Vision Quest," made great use of), but he really shined on "Stone in Love" (with its more than appropriate line for the evening; "Those Summer Nights Are Callin').
Schon was quite gracious when he introduced, "Lights" as being the first song he wrote with Perry, and then dedicated the song to him (Schon has been quite vocal in wanting to work with Perry again), which ran right into a massive audience sing-a-long on the coda to, "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'."
Save for Valory, the other three musicians got to solo on their respective instruments. Smiths drum theatrics alone were quite impressive and bled into a frantic, "Anyway You Want It."
After an epic "Wheel In The Sky," Cains ballad of being road weary/homesick "Faithfully," set the right tone for a perfect show ending, "Don't Stop Believin'." While Perry may (or may not) one day return to the fold, Journey can still impress in his absence.