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Marcus Amphitheater,Milwaukee, USA 6 July 2005

Marking their 30th anniversary, Journey are doing a show with a difference which I just had to catch despite having seen them in the States before. In two sets nearing three hours, they opened with several songs from the pre-Steve Perry era, and wove in several new numbers from the new album Generations. Compared to a Greatest Hits-type set, the show was all the fanatic could dream for, and the band seemed to enjoy playing different songs.

The early numbers- many instrumental, Jonathan Cain doing most of the singing and Steve Augeri strumming a rhythm guitar superfluously- were too progressive for my tastes, lacking obvious hooks, but it was interesting to hear pieces later lifted by Kansas and Rush and the musicianship was superb. Talking of which, Neal Schon was outstanding throughout, letting rip on nearly every song but doing so with taste and control.

Of the new songs, Faith in the Heartland (great title!) grew on me as it progressed, A Place in your Heart was classic Journey, Every Generation a commercial number reminding me of Def Leppard and Out of Harm’s Way more in the Red 13 mould.

However Journey’s USA audience is one of casual fans who grew up on their hits in the late 70’s and 80’s, On a hot midweek evening, people were leaving early and many missed their favourite songs- the mega ballads Open Arms and Who’s Cryin Now and to close, two of the greatest songs ever- Don’t Stop Believin’ and Separate Ways, before an encore of Lovin Touchin Squeezin. Add in Anyway You Want It, Stone in Love, Wheel in the Sky and Be Good To Yourself and you have one of the great back catalogues of memorable songs.

By all accounts the set has varied throughout the tour and when I saw them 10 days later in Chicago, one of the new songs and some of the album tracks were omitted. But consolation came in meeting three of them backstage and they made encouraging noises about an English date next year. Might it finally be about to happen?


Review: Andy Nathan

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