Chicago, IL - Media Reviews
British pop metal men Def Leppard and American classic rockers Journey are no strangers to arenas and amphitheaters, but put the pair back together on tour with many more years of momentum from each hit-stacked catalogue and it’s now a stadium-sized undertaking. At a packed Wrigley Field, it felt like the 1980s all over again, but looked like the here and now thanks to an infield-filling stage, screens with symbolic graphics and a stream of lights that were nearly capable of reaching another famous ballpark on the opposite side of town.
The Journey guys made sure the “Wheel In The Sky” kept on turning and offered the mandate “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which is exactly the kind of advice that propelled them and Def Leppard back up to this lofty level.
Though the co-headliners are swapping their performance order each evening (with an excellent bonus of Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders tipping it all off), Def Leppard scored the closing slot, packing in all the expected material and a few surprises with gusto from singer Joe Elliott, guitarist Phil Collen, bassist Rick “Sav” Savage, guitarist Vivian Campbell and drummer Rick Allen. “Rocket” and “Animal” were just a couple of the many instances where double-stacked guitars blissfully collided with a wall of harmonies, while the monstrous “Foolin’” and “Let’s Get Rocked” appeared tailor made for venues this massive.
What Def Leppard lacked in lyrical depth, it more than made up for with colossal hooks from the vintage “Armageddon It” to the newer “Man Enough,” which was precisely what anyone would want the guys to sound like in the 2010s. There was also a chance for Rick Allen to inspire with his single-handed and double-footed drum solo during “Switch 625” alongside the slick memories of “Hysteria” (from the more than diamond-selling album of the same name), though it was “Pour Some Sugar On Me” that turned up the sticky, sweet heat, while the encores “Rock Of Ages” and “Photograph” kept the aggressive yet melodic thunder building to the bitter end.
Journey (whose photo is awaiting artist approval) mirrored that mood with its own brand of anthems and ballads that many have tried to duplicate but few have properly executed. Comprised of co-founding guitarist Neal Schon, original bassist Ross Valory, longtime keyboardist/Chicago Cubs fan Jonathan Cain and veteran drummer Steve Smith (who last filled these types of fields with Steve Perry), plus front man since 2008 Arnel Pineda, the group unloaded one sing-a-long after the next thanks to “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Only The Young,” “Escape” and “Stone In Love.”
From its BIC-flicking arsenal, “Wildest Dream” gave concertgoers a somewhat recent glimpse of Journey’s dependable whereabouts, though it was “Lights,” “Open Arms” and “Faithfully” that competed for the most arms in the air. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers also treated regulars to the less obvious but appreciated “La Do Da” and “Liberty,” let the gentle Cain, jazzy Smith and aggressive Schon flex their own individuality, while making sure the “Wheel In The Sky” kept on turning and offering the mandate “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which is exactly the kind of advice that propelled both of these bands back up to this lofty level.
By Chicago Concert Reviews 2018.
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