Home EntertainmentMusic Def Leppard, Journey, and Cheap Trick Rocked Busch Stadium Last Night

Def Leppard, Journey, and Cheap Trick Rocked Busch Stadium Last Night

by Melissa James
PHOTO ALBUMS: Cheap Trick – Journey – Def Leppard
Purple cans of Aqua Net hairspray. Perms. Scrunchies. Marlboro Lights. Busch beer cans. Trans Ams. Gravel driveway BBQ’s with pork steaks and Maull’s in North St. Louis County. KSHE 95. Ahh, the memories.
Instead of walking in to a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game tonight, everyone that walked through the gates were transported back to a time when everything mentioned above was commonplace, typical and…very cool. At least it was to me. It was actually one of my favorite times to be alive.
I personally grew up with all 3 of these bands that I saw tonight. I had several of their cassette tapes around 12 or 13 years old (remember those?), then their cd’s, and then when vinyl became a thing again – I had those, too. I owe that to my family in North St. Louis County where I was born and raised, listening to KSHE into the late hours of the night with my hoosier family just outside having a good ole’ hoosier time, not worried about a thing except for if I hit record at exactly the right time to tape my favorite Journey song once KSHE played it on my fledgling little boom box.
These days, I’m full time in the live music/production industry, and it felt a bit weird “seeing” a show as opposed to working it for once, I’m not going to lie – especially one of such a massive scale such as this. I arrived at Busch Stadium and headed to Will Call to collect my tickets, so excited to see these bands that I’ve admired since I was a kid.
Long story short, I hit a bit of a snag upon collecting my tickets, but Lynn at the Will Call window was so amazing! I promised I’d give her a shout out, as she was so pleasant and helpful to me. Thank you for your help, Lynn! Alright, and we’re off…the kickoff date of the tour for Cheap Trick, Journey, and Def Leppard.
  1. Cheap Trick: The crowd at this time was still a bit light; filtering in from getting beers, food and arriving via Ubers and shuttles. I shuffled to my seat past a mostly mid 40’s-early 60’s crowd, with a bunch wearing Journey and Def Leppard tour shirts. There were also a few families with kids hopefully giving them their first concert experience – I just love seeing that. Once Cheap Trick started, however, everyone’s attention quickly turned towards the stage and people went to their seats hurriedly. As soon as Robin Zander belted out the opening lyrics to “Hello There”, I noticed that everyone kind of paused, looked at each other, and I actually overheard many people say “Oh wow – he’s definitely still got it” or something of that nature.  They were not wrong. I mean…the man IS 71 years old. You wouldn’t know it. Rick Nielsen, on that note, is 75. It was truly a “family affair”, as my buddy Wes put it – as Rick Nielsen’s son was on the drums, and Robin Zander’s son was on 2nd guitar. That’s pretty rad if you ask me. I am a sucker for families who perform together.
I noticed that the crowd didn’t truly perk up until a fan favorite though, when “I Want You To Want Me” was performed. That’s when people started standing, singing and dancing. At that point, the show was in full swing and people were charged up, totally ready for the evening. It was recognizable to the everyman and I’m pretty sure all at the very least knew the chorus. I did notice as well that the sound went a bit muddy after that particular song. A few people around me commented on that as well, so I knew I wasn’t just hearing (or not hearing) things. The audio team at front of house rectified that quickly, and the boys were back to sounding great being played through the many D&B line arrays they had deployed. I know how stressful it can be to troubleshoot things on the fly at a show, and their techs handled it so fast.
Rick Nielsen stood out to me in particular the entire time. I LOVED his jacket! The man still has such an unassuming style that’s timeless. The Elmhurst, Il. native at one point made my shoulders hurt when he strapped on his signature 5 neck guitar. I’m only 43…and this dude is 75. He did it like it was nothing. I can only hope to be that spry at 75, if I make it that long that is. Much respect! Touring isn’t easy.
  1. Journey: WOW. I don’t even know how or where to begin here. I have adored Steve Perry since I was a pre-teen; he, along with David Surkamp of Pavlov’s Dog were my biggest influences vocally growing up. I 100% grew up with Journey. I have seen hundreds of bands live…but never Journey. Not with Perry, nor Steve Augeri or with Arnel Pineda. Tonight I was absolutely blown away by Pineda’s voice, and I’ll start there. I was geeking out anyway seeing Neal Schon in the flesh, but once Arnel started with Faith in the Heartland, once again – people just stood there slack jawed for a moment, then it just kind of sunk in. People were instantly convinced had they never heard him before that THIS guy is the real deal. Sure, he’s been with Journey now for years, BUT unless you travel to go see them, the Manila native might still be pretty new to you.  It seemingly didn’t matter to anyone that they played a few “B tracks”, because Pineda is just that entertaining, as well as the rest of the band. Hearing him sing is beautifully eerie. You think it’s Steve…but it’s not, and Pineda has a way of endearingly putting his own little modest stamp on every word to make it his own. The crowd could feel that. I could feel that.
When the favorites were presented, within one or two piano or guitar notes people went nuts. Seeing couples hold each other to Faithfully or Open Arms; you could tell those were so many wedding songs and special moments in time for these people. It was very sweet. I actually teared up a little seeing older couples embrace each other, taking the moment in without their phones out. It was just them and the music. That’s how it should be.
I personally had to take a moment to assist in belting out Don’t Stop Believin’ – because that’s just what I do, and we don’t worry about the things I do.
Journey was awesome, and aside from my nit-picking on a few lighting flub-ups during their set (stage left strobes and some other fixtures just weren’t responding properly, but it happens), the video content being a bit laughable and maybe a twee bit too much reverb in the vocals which wasn’t needed, think Perry Ferrell style – they were all high energy, enjoying themselves  and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted.
  1. Def Leppard: Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop)…DL opened with this one, and the crowd was already on their feet just waiting to see their boys. It was quite apparent that even though Journey did seem to steal Cheap Trick’s thunder a bit that most people were there for Def. Drummer Rick Allen seemed to get the most attention, especially by the camera ops. That dude…I don’t know how he does it, but he’s GOOD. Really good. Nothing flashy, but his ability to stay so in the pocket with one arm just blows my mind. Just like with the other bands with *ahem* aging members, you wouldn’t even know it with them. All high notes were hit vocally. The energy was there. Once again mind you – this was THE first night of this tour. Normally there are so many mistakes, no one has their footing yet, etc. – not tonight with any of the bands. Def Leppard had everyone standing by Love Bites…everyone. Phones were out showing Busch Stadium all aglow. It made me miss the cigarette lighter days, to be honest.
Speaking of honesty, I actually missed the last couple of songs due to my shuttle arriving early to take me home. But from what I had heard, they ended with Pour Some Sugar On Me; one I would’ve loved to have heard. I had the cassingle of that as a kid, and what I would’ve given to have seen that live, to be reminded of the memories of staying up until 3am with my dad working on cars on a school night blasting KSHE in our garage in Dellwood, after having bbq pork steaks drenched in Maull’s, without a care in the world except for if I could sprint fast enough to hit record to catch my favorite songs on the radio in time to complete my mixtapes.
Thank you for a lovely trip back in time, boys. St. Louis definitely welcomed you tonight with…wait for it…open arms.

PHOTO ALBUMS: Cheap Trick – Journey – Def Leppard

Melissa James

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