Live Report - Journey, Heart, and Cheap Trick - July 25, 2008 - San Antonio, Texas
Frontiers Records

Release year: 2008
Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Ben

I went in to the Journey concert last Friday with a few things on my agenda. First off was how new vocalist Arnel Pineda would be live. I said he was bad ass in my review of the album and DVD but I have never heard such a unanimous sea of praise for this guy. How many new songs would they play? When I saw Journey in 2006 with Def Leppard they played one post Perry song, I think it was The Place In Your Heart. I was also attending the show with two friends who were, pretty cool casual fans I think would be the right description. Like the band, but only listen to them on the classic rock radio kind of deal. Apparently the story of Arnel becoming the front man is more known than I thought it would be because both guys knew about it. Being a passing fan myself of Cheap Trick but not so much Heart, I was expecting to have a pretty good time.

Due to traffic and the pre show beers we didn’t make it in time for Cheap Trick. I was a little disappointed but I was more interested in trying to find a bathroom than catching their last song. I walked in about halfway into Heart’s set after standing in an endless line to snag a shirt, and prepared myself for at least an adequate waste of twenty minutes. I can say that I was really taken aback at how damn good Heart was. I mean, Heart, what the fuck? But the singer, Ann Wilson, she really hit notes that she had no business being able to. Her voice was powerful. She earned a lot of people’s respect that night. A cover of Reign O’er Me from The Who was kind of cool. Sort of like having Saxon do a Priest cover being from the same generation and what not. The hits were doled out in rapid fire succession, These Dreams first, Barracuda after another ballad, and encoring with Magic Man. Thankfully it was a short but painless set.

The headliners came out and proceeded to pound out an hour and forty five minutes of AOR anthems. Right off the bat they played Never Walk Away to remind people that yes, we do have a new album out. A couple of hits quickly followed, but even then I noticed that Only The Young, despite being second, was still not nearly as recognized as say Anyway You Want It. It goes without saying that all the hits were played that night. There ended up being four new songs thrown into the setlist, Never Walk Away, Change For The Better, After All These Years, and Wildest Dream. I think that this is a brave choice because it shows the band standing by their material. Another thing I noticed was that it seems Journey have gone back to their tradition of jamming around between a few songs so they won’t get bored playing Lights again. Jonathan Cain had a cool piano solo between Faithfully and Open Arms. He also did a harmonica / mandolin duet with Neal for a few minutes before Wheel In The Sky that was fun to watch. To my astonishment, Arnel was exactly the wonder front man that everyone keeps saying he is. The little guy reminded me of Tobias Sammet actually. In a similar fashion Arnel jumped around, ran back and forth, and twirled about in a bundle of energy. Unlike Tobias though, Arnel doesn’t have the tendency to go into long speeches due to his accent. What made me realize that this guy is lighting a fire under everyone’s asses was the dad in front of me with his wife and son who was on a date. Pops over here was rocking out hard to most of the set. He even let the hair down for an air guitar during Separate Ways. Mom on the other hand took awhile to be coaxed out of her seat. It wasn’t until halfway through the set that she stood up and started cheering. Something tells me the dad at least, if not both of them saw this band in their prime. They probably have memories of Journey circa 1982. So them getting into the Journey of 2008 shows that the hardcore fans can accept this incarnation of their beloved band. The entire band looked like they were having a blast. Even Ross Valory was animated which is no small feat. Unlike in 2006, drummer Deen did not sing any of the songs. When Soto was filling in, the drummer would do Faithfully and at least a couple more.

As we were leaving I asked my friends what they thought about the show. They both agreed that the new singer is a great front man. Neither cared too much for hearing new stuff but they thought it sounded “ok”. I think that it’s the right thing to do in playing and promoting the new album. They believe in their material. Also for the die hards they even played Rubicon from Frontiers. This would be like Iron Maiden playing Only The Good Die Young or Gamma Ray doing Who Do You Think You Are?. For their close to two hour set time, Journey covered all the bases. Their new singer proved himself, the new songs work in the live setting, one song was dusted off the shelf, and the rest of the band were in stride with each other the whole time. Catch this tour if it swings your way.

Killing Songs :
Ben quoted
Other albums by Live Report that we have reviewed:
Live Report - Mgla, Lvcifyre, Wode - 15th March 2019 - Rebellion, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
Live Report - Pestilence, Grimaze, Damim, Cryptic Shift - 23rd February 2019 - Rebellion, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
Live Report - King Crimson - Uncertain Times Tour - 9th November 2018 - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
Live Report - Voivod & Bio-Cancer - 6th October 2018 - Rebellion, Manchester, UK reviewed by Goat and quoted
Live Report - Xandria, Kobra and The Lotus, Once Human and Bullet To The Heart reviewed by Joel and quoted No Score
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