I flew solo to the Def Leppard & Journey co-headline tour this past Saturday night, had a great time. Gone are all my concert buddies, either they are too busy or have decided that they are too old to go to concerts, except for the really BIG shows. Even my wife won’t go anymore, unless it’s a really big concert by a big name act. I don’t mind flying solo to shows, I’ve been doing it for years. It’s actually a really good time: no hassle, I can get in and out faster, and I can enjoy the show and get lost in my own little world.
The show at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA was sold-out! That includes the lawn! I was surprised to say the least when I found out that they were turning people away in droves at the ticket windows. I saw Journey in 2001 on the Arrival Tour, they sold well but not sell-out. I saw Def Leppard on the Euphoria Tour in 1999 at the Tweeter, sold-out show. Saw them again on the X Tour at the Providence Civic Center and the barely got 2000 in attendance. I didn’t expect a sell-out, maybe the seats would be full but definitely not the lawn area. It was a great atmosphere, it reminded me of the excitement of the ’80s when almost every show that came to town was a sell-out.
The opener was Stoll Vaughan , a singer/songwriter from Kentucky. Not bad, reminded me of a more Country-ish John Cougar Mellencamp. The guy came out with an acoustic guitar, backed by Ross Vallory and Jonathan Cain from Journey, and did 5 songs. Off in 20-25 minutes.
Journey came out and absolutely ROCKED! If you use Google, you’ll find the setlists for the tour but it was all the hits you’d expect. After all the problems the band had with lead singer Steve Augeri losing his voice early in the tour, the band righted the wrongs by bringing in Jeff Scott Soto on lead vocals. Let me just say this: the band had renewed energy, played their asses off, and fed off JSS’ performance. They crowd was totally into it, songs like ‘Separate Ways’, ‘Chain Reaction’, ‘Ask The Lonely’, and ‘Stone In Love’ just smoked. Neal Schon just shredding the guitar, mesmerizing the crowd. If Journey doesn’t retain Jeff Scott Soto on vocals for the future, then it’s a crime. A total pleasure to watch a band play professionally, enjoy themselves, and leave the crowd screaming for more.
On to the Leps…..
Def Leppard always has a great live show. I saw them a few years ago on the X Tour and they opened the first part of their set by playing the whole High’n Dry album! Now THAT was an awesome show! The show I saw following Journey’s awesome opening left a lot to be desired. I’m a big Def Leppard guy, I was there since Pyromania and I am devout in worshipping the pre-Hysteria and post-Retroactive eras. What I heard and saw was boring.
First, Joe Elliot’s voice is either shot or strained from the rigors of touring. He didn’t sound like Joe Elliot. I realize age and lifestyle may have something to do with it, we all can’t be in our mid-20s forever! He gets a pass.
Second, the setlist was too predictable. I remember this one (not in order but by album):
- Let It Go
- Bringin’ On The Heartbreak
- Let’s Get Rocked
- Rock On (from Yeah!)
- 20th Century Boy (from Yeah!)
- Rock Of Ages
- Armageddon It
- Love Bites (encore)
- Pour Some Sugar On Me (encore)
A setlist full of surprises! Yeah right! I like the hits just like anyone else but I could use a couple of curveballs in there to freshen it up. Nice to hear ‘Let It Go’ again, best song of the set. I saw some people singing along but most of the crowd just stood there. I sang right along and I think I annoyed the young ladies to my left. They got revenge by spilling their beer on me more than a couple of times. Nothing is more annoying than spilled beer on your jeans so I decided my Pepsi just had to be spilled into their merchandise bag. It was an accident, I swear! At least they were dry and didn’t smell like Bud Lite!
Back to the show…..I didn’t like Yeah! when it was released but the 2 songs played from it live were pretty good. They pulled it off and they were a pleasant diversion from the Hysteria-filled set. I still like Hysteria but do we really need to seven songs from the album? Why not throw in a track from Slang, Euphoria, or X? I understand the crowd wants to hear familiar songs but the diehards keep the flames going when the masses don’t buy the new albums (see the last two studio albums), why not throw them a bone and play a tune from On Through The Night? When a band like Def Leppard goes out of their way to denounce their Heavy Metal/Hard Rock roots in the press, why can’t they back it up live and play newer material? Def Leppard isn’t the only band guilty of pandering the hits, KISS does it all the time and I rip them too. The covers count but they really don’t, play some of your OWN material, please!
Overall, I enjoyed the hits, I just hoped for more, I expected more variety. I’ve seen this set before basically, it was no surprise. I left at the encore to beat the crowd. By that time they hadn’t played ‘Love Bites’ or ‘Sugar’, not their best songs and I really didn’t need the chicks next to me spilling more drinks. It was all too predictable.
Funny story – Between Journey and Def Leppard, I met a guy around my age (34) that claimed to be Def Lep’s biggest fan. He had the old Pyromania tour shirt on, he bought EVERY piece of merchandise at the stand, and told me of his shrine to the Leps at his house. Sounded like a KISS fan! He waxed poetic on the glory days, how good Slang was and how unappreciated the X album and tour was. So the guy asks me what my favorite Def Lep album is…..I answer Pyromania…..his answer was Hysteria. I ask him if he thinks that Hysteria was too much of a departure from their Metal roots on OTTN and HND. His answer: “Which albums are those?” So I remind him of the band’s awesome first two albums, his answer: “Def Leppard made two albums BEFORE Pyromania?” My reply, “Are you serious?” That ended my conversation with Def Leppard’s biggest fan.