Journey / Def Leppard @ Borgata Hotel

179This tour is an interesting mix of styles and it features two bands that have been playing to millions of fans over the years— Journey and Def Leppard.

Journey have gone through some changes over the years but even more recently, lead singer Steve Augeri, who sang on the band’s latest album Generations, had to leave the tour in July because of a throat condition. Enter Jeff Scott Soto, who sang for actor Mark Wahlberg in the movie Rockstar besides playing with guitarist Neil Schon and his band when he wasn’t touring with Journey.

The young, vivacious singer was the key to this show because he brought energy to this veteran band that was special. Many fans didn’t know about the singing change and they had to wait to see him since Schon came out first to play a Hendrix-esque version of the “Star Spangled Banner” that was inspiring and well timed! After juicing the crowd with that, they rattled off “Stone In Love,” “Ask The Lonely” and “Wheel In The Sky” before the crowd had a chance to catch their breath. At that point, guitar virtuoso Schon owned the crowd and original pianist Jonathan Cain really connected with the fans, playing a raw style that seemed to be inspired by the new singer.

Scott Soto’s vocal range was vast, and drummer Deen Castronovo added some Steve Perry-ish vocals to the slower hits, like “Lights,” “Open Arms,” “Who’s Crying Now,” and “Faithfully,” which was one of the encores. The audience sang every word along with the passionate drummer.

The final song was “Don’t Stop Believing,” and it really left the show on a positive note. The song that had the most impact on the crowd was “Chain Reaction” because of the hard edge that the song had. It reminded fans what the non- commercial version of Journey sounded like.

If there were some fans that were wondering why Def Leppard were hitting clean-up on this tour the first six songs did the talking—“Lets Get Rocked,” “Let It Go,” “Women,” “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak,” “Foolin’” and “Hysteria.” At that point, frontman Joe Elliott was down-n-dirty raw, and he had every person in the place standing and singing. Guitarist Phillip Collen never missed a note, and drummer Rick Allen seemed especially gratified by his performance in this show—the smile during the show said it all.

The band was in great form, supporting their latest release Yeah! The cover that got the most interest was the old T-Rex tune “20th Century Boy.” The ’70s hit “Rock On” was the other song that they played from the album.

The show had a smoky bar sound and feeling that very few bands of this era could only hope to duplicate because they don’t have the authenticity, but these Brits do.

The show closed out with “Rock Of Ages,” “Love Bites,” and “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Elliott and company had every fan dancing and screaming for the last hour of the show and once again he had some memorable quotes. He welcomed back his “stalkers,” and he seemed very proud when he said he had been playing for 29 years with bassist Rick Savage. But the quote of the night was after the band got done playing “Hysteria.” Elliott told the crowd, “I wish you could see what we see. It’s f-in mad!”

And it’s that kind of youthful enthusiasm that will carry this band forward for years to come.