Def Leppard with Journey @ Rogers Centre

Three classic rock powerhouses took on the Rogers Centre this past Friday night in the form of Peter Frampton, Journey and Def Leppard. The trio drew in a crowd of thousands who got the show of a lifetime over the course of the night.

Peter Frampton had a relatively short set but one that immediately ramped up the energy. With his trademark talk box, he ripped into his virtuoso solos and along with a handful of his big hits, he performed a (Grammy winning) instrumental cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, dedicating it to the late Chris Cornell.

If there was ever a set that could be described as a “blockbuster”, it would be Journey’s. The mammoth production was nothing short of spectacle, featuring not only a trailer but end credits as well. The stars of the show all got to give “Oscar-winning” performances as well, with each member of the group getting their time to shine with a solo between their unimpeachable classics. Classics that included the galloping “Separate Ways”, the party jam “Any Way You Want it”, and of course one of the world’s biggest songs, period: “Don’t Stop Believin’”. Frontman Arnel Pineda hit all the high notes with aplomb, nailing every one of the band’s timeless choruses.

Def Leppard is now in their 41st year as a band and is still as vital as any band starting out today, powering through an unstoppable hit parade. It’s really no surprise that they’re one of the highest selling rock bands of all time. Song after song was one of their trademark bold, brash anthems, even the more tender cuts like “Love Bites”. The band has never shied away from their unabashedly earthy image and that translated into their performance as well.

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With their lead guitarist shirtless and sweaty, and frontman Joe Elliott strutting and grandstanding, it’s hard to believe that this is a band in the fifth decade of their career. “Photograph”, “Armageddon It”, and “Pour Some Sugar On Me” all whipped the crowd into a frenzy with their big hooks and crunchy guitar. Joe Elliott extolled the virtues of keeping big rock n’ roll alive throughout the night, reveling in excess and the spirit of the time the band had been borne into while also focusing on the spirit of the music itself. It was simultaneously louche and hip, as evidenced by the backing visuals.

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One neat touch came towards the start of the set when the visuals on the stage were all based on Las Vegas style neon lights and marquees; each one symbolized a different facet of the band’s lyrical content. From rock n’ roll and voluptuous women to nice cars and dirty dancin’, this is a band that’s embraced their glam lifestyle and will swear by it to the very end.

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