A hot night to start this Memorial Day Weekend, but not brutally so, and at there was a breeze to help out. We made the mistake of following the signs set up on the road directing cars to parking for the concert instead of following MapQuest and ended up in the field where tailgaters had set up. I have nothing against tailgaters. It’s a fantastic way to listen to an outdoor show on the cheap, especially if you don’t want to fork over the insane prices some bands are asking anymore. Quite a few seemed to be taking that route, but we actually had tickets and it was a long walk back to the venue from that lot.
Once we finally got there, we saw an already sizable crowd that we later learned was a sell out - 30,000 folks crammed into Hershey, PA for this show! I had no idea the stadium was so big. Def Leppard and Journey are co-headlining this tour and splitting duties as the closer. Tonight, Def Leppard was up first and Journey was closing, with no additional acts on the bill.
About an hour before show-time, Joe Elliot, lead singer of Def Leppard came out to inform those already in the stadium that guitarist Phil Collen had to be away on a family emergency and that Steve Brown (Trixter) would be filling in. Phil had never missed a show before, so this was a bit of a shock and the Def Leppard fans in attendance were all hoping it was nothing too serious. Steve Brown was no stranger to playing with the band, as he filled in for Vivian Campbell when he was undergoing cancer treatment, but having to step in on lead guitar at a moment’s notice is no small feat.
Def Leppard conveniently provided a countdown clock on the big screen, so we’d know just how much time we had left to wait. Great for building antiipation - or making the minutes drag by slower - depending on your perspective! I’ve been front row forthem once before, but there is something special about being in the front row waiting for one of your favorite bands to start the show. The excitement built up and by the time tthe clock hit zero and they hit the stage with Rocket at 7:30 pm, the place was buzzing as if electrified. This was their third show of the tour, and the hiccups that were reported from the first show seem to have been ironed out.
The set list and stage show were pretty similar to what they have been doing for several years now. The only really differences in the set were When Love and Hate Collide, a song not often played, and Man Enough, a newer song. I’ve seen quite a few people complain about them doing the “same old set list”, but I have to wonder if those same people would be happy with a set list that included none of their favorites in favor of only obscure, deep cuts. It really makes sense to perform the hits that made them famous in a show like this where time is limited and probably half of the crowd are not die-hard fans. I am with the group of fans, however, that would like to see Def Leppard play a headlining show that would allow them to play long enough to include a bunch of those deep cuts - something like Bon Jovi has been doing in his over 2 hour set.
The band seemed to have good energy despite not having Phil in the building. Steve Brown did a remarkable job for having been given such short notice to get up-to-speed, and the band seemed comfortable with him. Joe's voice was sounding pretty good, something of a concert to some after he lost his voice on the infamous Def Leppard Cruise. Everyone spent considerable time on the “thrust” to get a little more up-close and personal with the crowd and the crowd showed their appreciation. Their acoustic section was shorter than normal, though, so Rick Allen didn’t get to spend as much time out from behind his kit. That was too bad, because he was really hard to see back there. Looking back behind me when they were on the thrust, I could see the massive crowd. That was awe-inspiring when you consider that this band started in the late 1970’s (Journey even earlier) and they can still pull in crowds like this. Their 16 songs sped by much too quickly.
After a fairly quick stage change, Journey made their appearance with Separate Ways. Maybe it was because it was darker and the stage lights showed up better, but their graphics on the big screen just looked a bit better, though the graphics were nothing terribly unusual or exciting. Arnel Pineda was his usual, bouncy self, but his lyrics just seemed slightly out of sync with the music. Not sure if the sound guy was having issues or something else was going on, but it made the performance a bit difficult to listen to. There also seemed to be some lack of cohesion within the band at times, which may or may not have been related.
I had seen reports that Neal Schon was playing multiple solos, which people also found annoying. He did two solos outside of songs, which I really didn’t find to be terribly long. Most songs have some solo section, and maybe he extended them out a bit, but I didn’t get bored as a result. I didn't write down the set list, but looked it up later, and 17 songs were reported - four of which were solos of one type or another. If that's accurate, their set was actually much shorter than Def Leppard's.
Unfortunately, the sound issues seemed to cause many to leave early, as was confirmed by reports seen after the show. It’s hard to know how many of those were just Def Leppard fans that really had no interest in Journey anyway. I did stick it out, because I like the band and know they can do much better. Hopefully, their future shows will reflect that.
Def Leppard Set List: Journey Set List:
1. Rocket 1. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
2. Animal 2. Be Good To Yourself
3. Foolin' 3. Only The Young
4. When Love and Hate Collide 4. Neal Schon Guitar Solo #1
5. Let's Get Rocked 5. Stone In Love
6. Armageddon It 6. Any Way You Want It
7. Rock On 7. Lights
8. Two Steps Behind 8. Jonathan Cain Piano Solo
9. Man Enough 9. Open Arms
10. Love Bites 10. Who's Crying Now
11. Bringin' On The Heartbreak 11. La Do Da
12. Switch 625 12. Neal Schon Guitar Solo #2
13. Hysteria 13. Steve Smith Drum Solo
14. Pour Some Sugar On Me 14. Wheel In The Sky
Encore: 16. Don't Stop Believin'
15. Rock Of Ages
16. Photograph Encore:
17. Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'