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JOURNEY, Heart, Cheap Trick
Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, USA 18 July 2008

It was a hot night in Nevada and as Elvis once sang: 'help me I'm flaming, I must be a hundred and nine'. So thank goodness for the wonder of air con and the second wonder that is Journey, doing a little old concert with two other amazing rock acts, Heart and Cheap Trick.

Cheap Trick were up first and without going around the houses, they were as flamin' groovy as I wanted them to be and that was good!

First off for anyone still feeling the effects of heat stroke then Robin Zander was right on hand to cool things down. Wearing a cool white suit, Stetson and sounding completely pretty damn brilliant in everything he sang there were definitely no false starts with this one.

Opening with the instrumental 'Oh Claire' from the band's 1978 'Heaven Tonight' album then launching into 'That 70s Song', a cover / mix of Big Star's 'In The Street'.

And there were no disappointments from legendary guitarist Rick Nielsen, who's array of guitars impressed in a big way, so when he played them up a storm the crowd just went nuts!!

Hit record 'I Want You To Want Me' was just fantastic, another popular anthem 'Surrender' and finishing with 'Dream Police' again proved that we all need Cheap Trick more than we know.

Seattle group Heart made a truly great entrance to an adoring audience. This band have a varied history which have turned them into one of the most admired rock groups of today. Underpinned by sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson, a constant source of brilliance throughout the years the show kicked of with one of their later hits from 1990, 'Wild Child' and they had the crowd's attention from then on.

'Kick It Out' from Heart's 'Little Queen' record - a somewhat folk/rock feel to a lot of Heart's earlier recordings. Both Ann and Nancy really did play it from the heart for the audience and although the sound at times lacked bass that wasn't too much of a problem as the music speaks for itself anyway for those who wish to hear it.

Ann Wilson's vocals are flawless and far from worsening have only got stronger the more she performs. Nancy equally is a superb musician in her own right and is again gifted vocally and perfect not just for back up but for leading on many tracks too.

And what a treat to hear the Wilson/Wilson penned 'Magic Man' from the band's 1976 debut album 'Dreamboat Annie'. Just awesome.

An acoustic version of 'These Dreams' and, well it wouldn't be a Heart gig without Heart's biggest hit to date, 'Alone' which was absolutely incredible and one of the highlights of the whole night.

All in all, a very successful night for Heart who, I'm sure bagged themselves a few more fans after that performance.

Journey have enjoyed a long and celebrated career globally and all of it thoroughly deserved. So the band's fans were out in force to see this impressive group play lots of their impressive hits.

Original members Neal Schon and Ross Valory were legends before our very eyes so now the band have got ace vocalist Arnel Pineda on the case too…well, it's good news for everyone.

The band belted out as many hits, it seemed, as they could get out in the time they had, so not much talking and a lot of playing - which is fine by me.

'Never Walk Away' from the new 2008 recording 'Revelation' rang out and I don't think the crowd stopped jumping all night.

'Stone in Love', 'After All These Years' (dedicated to the night's support acts) and 'Send Her My Love' all came in quick succession and the sound was gladly spot on.

Arnel is superbly energetic and dances around the stage as though he was born to it. I have to just mention Jon Cain - I know I gravitate towards my fellow pianists - but Jon is equally a driving force behind Journey along with the others and plays it beautifully every time, including the harmonica!! tonight not withstanding.

The famous number 'Don't Stop Believing' which almost everybody must know, played out with top marks…amazing! The crowd sang every word and it kinda gave you goose bumps in a good way.

A cool duet between Jon and Neal preceded 'Be Good To Yourself' from the popular album 'Raised on Radio' and then onto, what else…'Any Way You Want It'.

The encore brought about 'Escape' from the album of the same name and interestingly, Jon Cain's first album with the band.

Finishing with 'Faithfully', Journey clearly achieved what they had set out to their best live set yet. And that's saying something when every live set is as good as Journey play.

Journey are worth a visit whether on big stadium tours or otherwise and similarly too for Heart and Cheap Trick. Three big hitters and not a wrong note between them.

The gravitas of attending such concerts can't be underplayed. The US audiences are regularly treated to such weighty musical players on the same bill - Motley Crue, Papa Roach and Buckcherry are playing at the very same venue in LV at the start of August 2008, again all on the same bill - one gig I would definitely have loved to see, however short of remaining in the US as an illegal alien I was bound to return to Blighty and back to work reporting on all things rock this side of the Atlantic.

Review by Judith Reeves

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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