Journey, Foreigner & Styx - LG Arena, Birmingham - 5 June 2011
So at last we get a similar 3 band line up like the US has been getting for years, with this stellar line up so would it all be Glee fans or AOR aficionado's? A bit of both if I'm honest with plenty of sitting down and early exits including the guy next to us in row 2 who spent half his time out of the arena and the rest sat down!!!
First up Styx a band I've never seen but always enjoyed the rockier side of them. Always wanted to see Tommy Shaw (vox/guitar) (ex Damn Yankees) and he didn't let us down with some excellent guitar and vox. In fact the band were very interchangeable with Lawrence Gowan on keys also taking lead vox and James Young also on vox / lead guitar. The rhythm section of Ricky Phillips on bass and the excellent Todd Sucherman on drums held it all together.
We also had an appearance from original bass player Chuck Panozzo too. For 50 minutes to a rapidly filling arena they were excellent with great sound too. Leaning on the heavier side of their catalogue and with Gowan and Shaw covering every inch of the stage they left us wanting more and a well deserved standing ovation.
They played the following set
The Grand Illusion
Too Much Time On My Hands
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Blue Collar Man
Come Sail Away
Next up Foreigner. The light rig increased and with the use of some LED screens the whole experience went up a notch. But the sound was disappointing for the first song with Kelly Hansen on vox which was very quiet. Not that it stopped him covering every inch of the stage and some of it including a trip out into the audience to get everyone stood up!!
The best front man of the night playing to all corners and looking more like Steven Tyler every time I see him. Excellent vox too and no one misses Lou Gramm! Sadly no new songs from the excellent new cd Can't Slow Down just an hour of greatest hits with a setlist of
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Feels Like The First time
I Want To Know What Love Is
Juke Box Hero
Not that it bothered the crowd who adored them with I have to say the best reaction of the night. Yes we got the 2 ballads but with a rocking end with Hot Blooded and a stunning Juke Box Hero with a great storyboard on the screen they brought the house down.
So with the release of the stunning Eclipse cd Journey finally make the jump into arenas in the UK with the help of a certain TV show too. This was the 6th time of seeing Journey back to 2005 and with 3 different singers, so great we now have a solid line up and the cd the band want with plenty of guitar.
An enormous light rig backed with 4 levels of LED screens set the back drop.
To start with Deen's drums sounded like a dustbin but 3 songs in a complete loss of sound for a second and it all came together. The 100 minute show consisted of 14 hits and 4 newies off the new cd. The only band on the night to play new material and although we loved the heavier end and all songs came across superbly live with Neal's guitar at the forefront of it. A lot of the crowd didn't know it so the show dipped. In fact the thrashy ending of City Of Hope with some stunning drumming from Deen and solo from Neal was met with a lot of apathy apart from the diehards.
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Only The Young
Edge Of The Moment
Ask The Lonely
Send Her My Love
Neal guitar segway/Stone In Love
City Of Hope
Mother Father(Deen on vox)
Chain Of Love
Wheel In The Sky (with extended heavy middle and solo)
Be Good To Yourself
Don't Stop Believin'
Anyway You Want It
Encore Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'
Arnel Pineda on vox was a real livewire and is starting to show his class. The Perryisms are still there but on all the slower songs especially "Faithfully" his vocals were stunning. His between song banter struggles but his enthusiasm wins you over.
Neal was Neal soloing and shredding to his hearts content and from row 2 a joy to see. Yet we still had people sat down (the miserable sods) with this visual and audio arena treat. By moving into arenas there was something lost with the audience. For the diehards no but overall yes. Don't Stop Believin had everyone up as did most of the ballads but there is so much more to this band than that and Neal and Deen are
certainly enjoying the heavier end of the musical spectrum as are we.
So a wonderful gig 3 excellent bands for £45 but as a long time Journey fan a strange one.
Get rid of the hangers on who like Glee and play to the fans only but I can't see that happening.