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Shepherds Bush Empire, London 9 May 2005

Not a huge crowd it has to be said to see the new hard rock ‘supergroup’ Soul Sirkus of Jeff Scott Soto, Journey’s Neal Schon, drummer Vigil Donati and ex-Whitesnake/Thin Lizzy bassist Marco Mendoza. Young rock band Fleet were the support whom played a short and at times rocking set. Hard to draw a comparison but fellow young upstarts Tokyo Dragons would be a good starting point. Certainly they possess a few good tunes and good luck to them!

Soul Sirkus played most of their debut album including the awesome ‘Friends 2 Lovers’ and a blistering ‘My Sanctuary’ (in which JSS dedicated the song to all perverts and peeping toms!). They bought it down a notch with ‘Soul Goes On’ with JSS playing piano (although it was hard to hear this above Marco Mendoza’s throbbing bass lines). All the band played well and it was great to see Neal Schon on a UK stage! JSS was his usual self working the crowd and being a general ball of energy - easily one of the best frontmen around today in rock.

The set was really cracking along with the band hitting a great groove but then we had an instrumental break and for me the gig lost its momentum then. Yes it's great to have a jam session from such top musicians but I would have thought most of the audience would have preferred a few Journey numbers! Marco Mendoza also did a weird and wonderful six-string bass solo where he added scat and mouth percussion noises.

Luckily JSS came to the rescue with his piano spot. He sang some Journey songs including ‘Who’s Crying Now?’ plus a bit of solo, Seal’s ‘Crazy’ (a staple of JSS solo shows) and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. He finished with Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ by which time the band had rejoined and gave the song a storming finish. Only one short and frankly mediocre encore meant I didn’t enjoy this gig as much as I thought I would. For me a shorter jam session and more Journey/JSS/Talisman tunes next time please.

Review: Jason Ritchie

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