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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Live & Dangerous 3: Journey, Foreigner and Styx

I know I know not the most 'metal' of bands but hey it could be Lady Gaga. Stick with it though because you will be suprised. Plus they are all rock bands and it's my blog so I'm going to continue anyway.

Journey, Foreigner and Styx (Birmingham LG Arena)

With Darren Reddick of Planet Rock (in) fame(y) MC the night we were introduced to Styx who came out with aplomb. Starting with Grand Illusion and Too Much Time On My Hands they got off to a good although not a great start. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves and trying too hard with their perhaps better known (in the UK) touring mates. Guitarists Tommy Shaw and James Young rocked out and soloed with cohesion and precision but it was keyboard player Lawrence Gowan's constant preening and pouting that eventually started to grate on me. His voice is fantastic very similar to the original singer Dennis DeYoung however whereas DeYoung was very theatrical in his performances, Gowan just seems a bit desperate for attention. The best part of their set was the epic Come Sail Away, was all rocking and rolling with very prog influences. They also had some technical difficulties which should be ironed out by the last dates of the tour. Styx then were an alright opener for a crowd that seemed to be only there for the other two bands and not reciprocating the effort Styx was giving. This was probably why they came off to me as slightly desperate. 6/10

Foreigner on the other hand overcame the notion of this being a 'one band show' by not trying to oversell themselves and just sticking to what they know. This was truly a 'Jukebox' (excuse the pun) show with it being straight hit after hit. All of the rockers were amped up and the ballads perfectly executed. Heading out with the one two punch of Double Vision and Head Games the band seemed to be enjoying every minute of it founding member and guitarist Mick Jones especially had a smile on his face throughout as his fellow countrymen cheered. The crowd were defiantly fired up by Foreigner’s incendiary set (Sorry again for the pun). Slowing things down with Cold As Ice and Waiting For A Girl Like You it was singer Kelly Hansen that rose above the band as his vocal theatrics managed to mirror both former singer Lou Gramm and even bordered on Mr Coverdale, he was interesting to watch and listen to constantly moving like Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. More rockers followed and then came the show stopping I Want To Know What Love Is which got the LG on its feet and singing with every word. After the cathartic shout along Foreigner ended on a high with perennial favourites Hot Blooded and the heavier than usual Jukebox Hero (hence the earlier pun). Journey was defiantly going to have to work hard to beat Foreigner’s hell for leather display. 9/10

It was never in any doubt who the headliners were from the opening strains of Separate Ways the crowd were on their feet, clapping along to its staccato riff. The band are clearly enjoying themselves and are, as you would expect, completely in  sync with each other as a band the sound was flawless. It was all eyes on new singer Arenl Pineda as the chorus kicked in and they weren't disappointed, although he has a slightly gruffer voice than Steve Perry he can hit the notes with ease. After a collective sigh of relief Journey continued with the hits and included some new tracks from their new album Eclipse (which I will review when someone gives me a copy) despite being much heavier than the earlier Journey output they fitted in perfectly with the rest of the set,  Resonate and the Zepplinesqe Chain Of Love being two highlights. Neal Schon opened up on the newer tracks his soloing being as good as anyone I've seen, leading to much air guitaring form the crowd (and me). However this was not just an ego trip for Schon all of the band were given room to breathe. with drummer Deen Castronovo taking lead vocals on Mother, Father and doing a damn fine job, that drummer can really sing. As the set came to a close the tear jerking Faithfully led into the upbeat Don't Stop Believing which got the crowd singing at the top of their lungs again. This then led into Any way You Want It ending the set. A short break was then followed by the encore of Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' which gave everyone that loved-up feeling and ended the set proper. Definitely a band I would see again and I urge people to see them when they come around again. 9/10

Overall then a very good gig and well worth travelling to Birmingham to see. The stage shows from Foreigner and Journey were awesome, lights, video, and effects the whole thing worked well together, the only slight disappointment was Styx who I was expecting more from. However any disappointment from Styx was destroyed by the rocking set from Foreigner and the emotionally charged set from Journey. Overall 9/10

P.S I'd like to thank Nick Hewitt for inviting me to the gig, cheers buddy! 

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