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Sunday, 16th July 2006

Nashville/Antioch, TN, USA - Media Reviews

Journey and Def Leppard By DJRadiohead

Twelve years and 90 pounds ago. That is how long it has been since I last saw Def Leppard. I am not the only person in Nashville, Tennessee who can mark the passage of time in belt loops. Nostalgia is a bitch.

Rock critics and hipsters can make all the snide remarks they wish about a Journey/Def Leppard show, but in this era of three dollars per gallon gas and the perpetual tale of woe told by the concert industry, Journey and Def Leppard sold out the 17,000 seat Starwood Amphitheatre. Validation? Maybe not, but it does say something.

The two veteran rock acts played sets of nearly equal length on a warm, humid, breezy night at Starwood (which is, by the way, the best outdoor venue I have ever seen a show at). Journey played first with Def Leppard following.

Def Leppard is a major segment of the soundtrack of my middle school and high school life and my notes reflect it. I took two full pages of notes during Journey's set. I did not need that for Def Leppard - I know these songs. I needed no notes to remember them. That and well...I got in that time machine Guster speaks of (you just knew Guster would have to figure in to this review at some point) and remembered the good parts of being young again. My teenage years were no more traumatic than anyone else's, yet they were not the highlight of my life. The constant joy throughout my life has been music. Def Leppard was, at one point, a significant part of that.

"Let's Get Rocked" is clearly not filled with profound life statements but I defy you to come up with a better phrase to open a show than, "Do you wanna get rocked?" Besides, the song is inspired by The Simpsons. I am not sure why "Make Love Like a Man" is still getting played at all, let alone second in the set but it still gets a big reaction. The Adrenalized song is a bit of a jokey number (some would say hokey). I never thought of this as a grand statement, but even in my youth it was a mission statement I could support! Hormones.

"Promises," from Euphoria, would have been a massive hit had it been written and released six years earlier. It is more or less a re-writing of "Photograph" but it is catchy nonetheless. It becomes clear after three songs these guys can still replicate those FM harmonies. As the piercing opening notes of early hit "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" ring out, I shudder as I wonder how many of the younger members of the audience heard this first as a Mariah Carey song.

Guitarist Phil Collen is still playing shows without a shirt - something I could not dare try at present. Drummer Rick Allen still plays barefoot. Joe Elliott, while certainly not fat, looks softer than he did a few years ago. He does, however, hit the high notes in "Foolin'" better than I do these days. "Hysteria," the title track to the monster album that introduced me to the band, sounds as anthemic as ever.

The band is touring to promote a new album, Yeah!, an album of covers. Two songs from that album are performed back-to-back: "No Matter What," the Badfinger classic and David Essex's "Rock On." "Rock On" opens with a not-really-a-bass-solo from Rick Savage. I have never liked this song much but Def Leppard's take is better than most - certainly better than that abortion from Michael Damien. From "Rock On" we move to "Rocket" and the beginning of a mini-suite of the band's strongest material that takes us to the end of the evening.

"Photograph" is the song where the decades seem to have most caught up with Joe & Co.'s ability to hit the high notes. The band segues directly into "Armageddon It" and then into "Animal" followed by main set closer, "Rock of Ages."

If you are recounting through the list of hits, the encore should be obvious. "Love Bites" used to bring out the cigarette lighters. Chalk one up for public health? There were far fewer swaying cigarette lighters than what I remember from years past. "Pour Some Sugar on Me" was never my favorite Def Leppard song, even when it dominated MTV and radio. It still isn't but I am likely in the minority. The crowd was completely energized by the song and it sent the band offstage with electricity still buzzing through the crowd - always leave them wanting more.

By Blogcritics 2006.

Journey / Def Leppard By Mike Farley

Two words: SOLD OUT. Yes, on a Nashville summer night when the temperature was hovering around ninety degrees after the sun went down, Jurassic rockers Journey and Def Leppard sold out Starwood Amphitheatre. There were a surprisingly large number of younger folks in the audience, when what you'd come to expect at this kind of show would be mostly classic rockers (i.e. old dudes with mullets and chicks with jeans up to their navels).

After a quick set change, Def Leppard took the stage. These guys have been around for almost 30 years but still know how to bring the rock. Lead singer Joe Elliot fronts a band with almost all original members, including one-armed drummer Rick Allen.

Def Leppard effortlessly plowed through hit after hit including "Let's Get Rocked," "Hysteria," "Photograph" and "Armageddon It." Admittedly, they did not rock with the same precision as Journey, and a lot of their songs do tend to sound similar after a while. But Elliot's voice is strong and the band's signature guitar tones are as nostalgic as they are powerful. The band closed out with "Love Bites" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me" as their encores, ending a great night of classic rock.

By Bullz-Eye 2006.


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