Journey and Def Leppard Rock Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Fans were treated to an evening of non-stop hits as two groups who have plenty of them, Journey and Def Leppard, teamed up for a September 7 show at the Talking Stick Arena in downtown Phoenix. The two powerhouse bands alternate from city to city as to who plays first; on this evening it was Def Leppard going on first and Journey wrapping up the evening.

Each band played a 90-minute set, and Def Leppard appropriately enough began their high-energy set with "Rocket." The hits kept on coming with "Animal," "When Love and Hate Collide," a take on "Foolin'" complete with thumping cowbell from Rick Allen and a hot and concise guitar solo from Phil Collen, and raucous readings of "Let's Get Rocked" and "Armageddon It." A take on David Essex's "Rock On" was the only cover song in the set; the band took the song's eerie psychedelic rattle and kicked it up a notch, adding funk and guitar and perfect phrasing to make the cut sound like something out of a voodoo ritual.

Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott asked the crowd to sing along to "Two Steps Behind," a cut that began with Collen, guitarist Vivian Campbell and bass man Rick Savage playing acoustic guitars on one of the band's quieter numbers. From there though the set rocked like crazy as the guys really hit their stride on "Love Bites," "Hysteria" with a brief quote from David Bowie's "Heroes" included, and an amazing take on "Bringin' on the Heartbreak" with an extended outro that included a jam from the entire group and a lengthy drum solo from Allen. "Pour Some Sugar on Me," "Rock of Ages" and "Photograph" brought Def Leppard's portion of the show to a close.

Journey began their set with "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" and lead singer Arnel Pineda was manic from the very beginning, dancing around the stage and punctuating some of the breaks in his vocal work with whirling moves that sometimes looked like a prelude to kicking someone in the head. Instead the band landed a sonic punch with a run that included "Escape," "Only the Young," "Stone in Love," "Chain Reaction," "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" and "Lights," which was accompanied by thousands of fans waving their cell phone lights. Neal Schon played flashy and flawless lead guitar throughout the show and took an extended solo during "Who's Crying Now;" the touching "Open Arms" also got a huge reaction from the crowd.

Jonathan Cain took a piano solo during the set, and drummer Steve Smith also took a solo, something not always heard from drummers these days but something that was more or less obligatory back in the day when Journey started out. Smith's solo led into "Any Way You Want It" and hits "Wheel in the Sky," "Ask the Lonely" and "Faithfully," one of Jonathan Cain's songwriting gems. Cain also got the spotlight for the most famous song he's ever co-written, which is also Journey's biggest hit, set closer "Don't Stop Believin'."

The Journey and Def Leppard tour runs through October 7. Find a list of remaining tour dates here

Journey and Def Leppard Rock Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix

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