Well thanks to a business trip to New York this blog is about to give you its third gig review from the Big Apple! I was only in New York for three nights but I thought I would check out who might be playing only to find joint headliners Journey and Def Leppard appearing at the iconic Madison Square Garden venue in the heart of New York City. Until now I had never seen Journey and the last time I saw Def Leppard was in the early 1980s, so this was one I was really looking forward to. I was joined by my brilliant boss Shannon and how good was the show? Well dear reader you will need to read on to find that out.
Journey formed in San Francisco way back in 1973 by some former members of Santana and an US psych band known as Frumious Bandersnatch (which if you wondered was the name of a character from that immortal Lewis Carroll poem, “Jabberwocky”. Sadly Journey have operated without original lead singer Steve Perry for some time now, he was replaced by Arnel Pineda. While Arnel has a great voice he will never be Steve Perry, although his stagecraft is pretty darned good. The only ever-present member of the band is guitarist Neal Schon, although bassist Ross Valory was there in 1973, but he left for a several years from the late 80s. I am convinced Journey are one of the finest rock bands that the US has produced and their songs are testament to that. From opener “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” through to the magnificent encore of “Any Way You Want It” (in my opinion one of their greatest songs) they were great. Although there was a lot of focus on Neal Schon’s guitar prowess, something which has been criticised in earlier reviews of this tour, there is no denying that he is an ace axeman. But surely if you see a classic band like this guitar solos are expected, right? The pre-encore set closed unsurprisingly with “Don’t Stop Believin'”, the Journey song that everyone knows, and yes it brought the house down. For me though the highlight was “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” from 1979’s ‘Evolution’ album and Steve Smith’s amazing drum solo which seemed almost effortless.
I believe that the bands have alternated the order of their appearance on this tour, but tonight it was Def Leppard, one of Sheffield’s greatest and most successful rock bands to hit the stage last. The excitement was stirred by a big screen countdown clock highlighting exactly when Joe and the boys would appear. They opened with a magnificent two punch combination of “Rocket” and “Animal”. Stunning and storming versions of “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Armageddon It” were hammered into us in the first half of a set that made it clear just what a collection of great songs this band has. They chose an early 70s UK chart hit to cover mid set and for me the choice was a little surprising, it was David Essex’s first hit “Rock On” which Def Leppard made their own. In their hands it became ten times heavier and it seemed to go down incredibly well. There was a soulful and emotional acoustic rendition of “Two Steps Behind”. Rick Allen’s drum solo in “Switch 265” was astounding and it looked like he was loving it. In fact the whole band seemed to be enjoying themselves. Joe Elliott and Rick Savage have been with the band from the start, while Rick Allen joined in 1978. “Hysteria” and that wonderful rock sing along “Pour Some Sugar On Me” closed the set before an encore to die for; “Rock Of Ages” which after this gig is now my new favourite Def Leppard song, and “Photograph”. This show was well worth the admission price and if you get the chance don’t miss it. I would love to hear from you if you have seen any of the shows on the tour.
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