From the edge of reason…and sanity…

Journey/Styx/REO Speedwagon on tour

Man, it’s been a while since I posted here. Plenty of stuff to rant about, not enough time.

We recently managed to go see Journey, Styx, and REO Speedwagon all together in one four and a half hour long concert. Given that two of these were my top-two favorites and the third was in my top ten, this was just simply amazing. So what if they aren’t quite the same people.

We got lucky. The only reason we heard about this concert was that few months ago DirecTV, as part of the “Freeview” weekend concerts, showed an edited version of the Styx/REO “Arch Allies” tour, and at the end they advertised this concert. We were still able to get tickets, albeit directly to stage left.

The concert opened about 10 minutes late with Styx, who was having trouble getting to the arena – but I expect these things to start 15 minutes after the posted time anyways, so it was like they started early. They did an excellent set lasting about 1:10, including new material from the Cyclorama album. It was pretty cool with Glenn Burtnik singing “Kiss your Ass Goodbye” out among the crowd running through the aisles.

I have to say though that Lawrence Gowan, the new keyboardist and singer, isn’t Dennis DeYoung. I much prefer Dennis singing Dennis’ songs. Fortunately I got to see Dennis with Styx previously. I have something about bands who’s lead singers split/get dumped/whatever. See Journey below – but I have seen Styx twice before, once for the Edge of the Century tour when Tommy Shaw was gone, and then again when they reunited for the newer Grand Illusion tour (although John Panozzo, the original drummer, was very sick or may have passed away by then and so the very talented Todd Sucherman had taken over). Still a very entertaining show. Of course you want more than just over an hour, but you still have two other bands to squeeze in.

REO Speedwagon was next, and played pretty much their hits, although there were a few I didn’t recognize. My personal favorite, “In My Dreams”, had a new slow rendition that was good (although I prefer the original). The only drawback here was Kevin Cronin killing time about his Playboy Mansion story when there wasn’t a lot of time for music…

Journey was the headline band (as is the case for all the concerts – Styx and REO swap opening roles). For those who don’t know and didn’t see the Behind the Music special, Steve Perry is no longer with Journey (see the special for details), being unable/unwilling to tour. He was replaced several years ago by Steve Augeri. Now most would say this would be the end of Journey – how could anyone replace Steve Perry – and I would have agreed, until I heard Augeri the first time back then. His voice is so like Perry’s it scary – yet its still his own voice. He can sing the old favorites and you wouldn’t know the difference, but he can sing new stuff just as well and what is Journey is not harmed by it – in fact I think it has helped after so many stagnant years. Pick up a copy of Arrival and check it out. Pure Journey. I’ve seen them play once before with the same lineup. Sad to say I’ve never seen them with Perry up front live (I still have a tape with the Escape concert shown on MTV somewhere), but I’ll take this lineup.

This was an amazing performance full of energy pulling songs from all eras of Journey, including some new stuff from the Red 13 EP. They even did “Feeling that Way/Anytime” with Jonathan Cain taking the Greg Rolie vocals, which to my knowledge was never done since Greg Rolie left until Augeri joined the band.

All I can say is WOW.