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Neal Schon and Joe Elliott

Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon (left) and Def Leppard singer Joe Elliot pose for a portrait in January. 

More than 11,000 classic rock fans got their money’s worth at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday as Def Leppard and Journey teamed up for a co-headlining show in which each band played a full 90-minute set.

Those sets were far from surprising — they were essentially the same as those Def Leppard has now played three times in the arena’s five years and Journey twice.

Their run of hits — “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Photograph,” “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Any Way You Want It” — was just what the crowd wanted to hear, with much singing along and loud cheers for each number.

While they ruled the FM rock radio airwaves in the 1980s with their format-fitting anthems and power ballads, there are some notable differences in the two bands' sound.

Coming out of the new wave of British heavy metal (the band’s first show was 40 years ago Wednesday), Def Leppard teamed up with producer Mutt Lange to add pop sheen and hooks and gang vocals to the guitar-driven rock.

That it still works was evident on songs like “Foolin’” that featured a stinging metallic guitar solo from the always shirtless Phil Collen and “Armageddon It” with Vivian Campbell taking the lead.

And, unlike many of his peers, Joe Elliott can still bring the vocals.

Among the highlights of another superb set: a staccato version of David Essex’s “Rock On,” “Man Enough,” a new song, and inserting David Bowie’s “Heroes” as the ending of "Hysteria."

Journey, initially formed to back San Francisco Bay artists 45 years ago, developed a smooth, melodic, layered sound filled with keyboards, the guitar of band leader Neal Schon and the soaring vocals of Steve Perry and, for the past 11 years, Arnel Pineda.

As always, the Filipino singer handled the vocals and frontman duties just fine, often sounding eerily like Perry and the veteran Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, which has had some internal feuding of late, was sound-like-the-record tight.

That said, Journey’s set lacked the dynamics, excitement and rock show volume of Def Leppard’s — which, for me at least, meant the best of the night came first.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.


Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott is an entertainment reporter and columnist.

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