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Monday 27 May 2013

A View From The Back Of The Room: Journey

Journey, Whitesnake & Thunder - Motorpoint Arena Cardiff

So another year another package deal featuring an opening band and a double headliner for a reasonable sum. This time it was on again/off again band Thunder, Dave Coverdale and his band of youngsters and the continuing resurgence of Journey. So with a night of classic rock ahead of me, myself and my friends piled into the Motorpoint.


A band I have wanted to see for few years and finally my waiting paid off as with a hit of AC/DC's Thunderstruck and the band arrived on stage and plunged straight into Dirty Love looking like they'd never been away the guitars of Morley and Matthews riffed for their lives and Danny Bowes ran around the stage like a man half his age weaving his cheeky spell over the audience from the off and also treating us to some hardcore dad dancing. The hits continued with River Of Pain and the anthemic Higher Ground with every song the band oozed with talent with each member showing off their chops with particular praise going to Danny Bowes' voice which still is unbelievably strong and soulful. The band then launched into the guitar overdrive of Backstreet Symphony and the hard rocker The Devil Made Me Do It before the super ballad of Love Walked In. This was a short, sharp, shock of some sublime hard rock from the youngest band on this bill; let's just hope they stay together for a while yet. 9/10


So ol' leather lungs burst into life after My Generation rang out through the arena they burst into life with Gimmie All Your Love and Ready And Willing. What immediately hits you is that despite the tight young band Coverdale can't really hit the notes but he still oozes rampant sexuality and prowls the stage like a panther. The wild swinging of the mic stand and the thrusting of hips were abound from the off. The set was a mix of classics and the two most recent albums, Can You Hear The Wind Blow from Forevermore blended into Don't Break My Heart Again before Gambler was unleashed in tribute to former members Cozy Powell, Mel Galley and Jon Lord. The lighters burst out in their masses for Is This Love before Coverdale went and rested while Reb Beach and the bleach blonde Doug Aldrich duelled and while both have talent it's Aldrich who really shines as the better guitarist of the two, the band returned with Steal Your Heart Away from Forevermore which featured a drum solo from veteran drummer Doug Aldridge who threw away his sticks halfway through an continued with his hands this was another break in proceedings but when Coverdale returned for Forevermore and sounded revitalised as they broke into the heavy metal sounding Best Years from Good To Be Bad before they started to wind things up at the end, Coverdale in full flight physically and vocally as they ran through the big hitters of Fool For Your Loving and Here I Go Again and then finally it was time for Still Of The Night which still remains the best song Zeppelin never recorded. An extremely noisy, hard hitting set of songs from the rock legends who built their set into a fitting crescendo that blew the audience away. 8/10


So with a slightly thinner crowd the opening keyboard pulse of Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) got the crowd moving from the off and started with a mass sing-along as Arnel Pineda blasted out the words with his superb voice that is every bit Steve Perry ever was if not better. The band were all on top musical form (as usual) but seemed a little rigid as if they were going through the motions, Pineda was animated as was bassist Ross Valory and keyboardist/guitarist Jonathan Cain however guitarist  Neal Schon was stoic and almost silent throughout. It was from Separate Ways into Any Way You Want It and the cavalcade of hits continued through to Ask The Only and Only The Young and then this is where things came unstuck. I realise that this was a day before Memorial Day in the USA however for Schon to play the entire Star Spangled Banner backed by images of fireworks and the American flag fell flat on its face with the Welsh crowd who were stunned into silence, this meant that it was hard for Journey to recover from this faux par with the next few songs failing to connect no matter how much Pineda tried to incite the crowd to get excited again. It was with Lights and the splendid Open Arms that finally got the crowd back on side which went into Escape and Faithfully even at this late stage Schon still insisted on mucking about between songs adding some unnecessary instrumentals before things returned to normal with Wheel In The Sky (My personal favourite) Be Good To Yourself and then 'that song' the sing-along Don't Stop Believing which ended the set on a massive high. However for a band like Journey, who were supposed to be the headliner, to have so much stalling in their set is not very professional, the sound too was against them with every song sounding muddied and in places even quiet (compared to the previous bands) this all played against Journey despite the musical ability on offer. So all in all Journey were good but were let down by two factors the muddied sound and Neal Schon's ego. 7/10  

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