Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

3Aug/1126

Setlist: Journey, Foreigner and Night Ranger at Blossom Music Center, 8/2/11

Photo courtesy of Frontiers Records
Going to see a Journey show always leaves me with so many thoughts. First, it’s great to have the opportunity to see a Journey show in 2011 and I have to give thumbs up each time to Neal Schon, because I know he and the other members did a lot of work and took a lot of chances to make that happen.

‘Greatest Hits’ was one of the first CDs that I bought as a kid, to test out a newly acquired stereo system, the very first stereo of my own. I know that everybody seems to feel like ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ is played out, ever since it was featured on ‘The Sopranos,’ triggering what seemed to be a worldwide rediscovery of that one Journey song. But man, what a song – hearing that classic piano intro from Jonathan Cain never fails to take me back to the first time listening to that ‘Greatest Hits’ CD, sitting cross legged on the floor (not a Chicago reference, really!).

Every time I hear that song and many others from the Journey catalog, I’m always amazed at the way they were able to line up the timing of the musical elements with Steve Perry’s vocals to create those instant classics that we still love all of these years later.

The actual sound of those songs and albums makes up a lot of it as well – I’d love to see an entry in the ‘Classic Albums’ documentary series to take us behind the scenes with the multi-tracks to open up and reveal the process behind the creation of some of these songs.

Journey and the other bands of their era created a sound and a way of songwriting that hasn’t ever really been duplicated and it probably never will. It was a whole different time, that damn wretched ‘80s period that so many lament. But look at all of those songs that were created in the decade where you had to hunt really hard to find real drums on a song!

All of this is an elongated opening thought leading into very brief thoughts about last night’s Journey show here in the Cleveland area with Foreigner and Night Ranger.

It really was an amazing snapshot of three bands from the era of arena rock and the incredible catalog of hits that they possess collectively.

For Journey, they soldier on with Arnel Pineda on vocals, finally armed with a vocalist who can help them to accurately reproduce those classic hits from the golden age working with Steve Perry. “Accurately reproduce” is the key here – they achieve that, but don’t really go above and beyond that. Certainly, what they deliver is solid, but they don’t really bring anything new to the rendering of the songs.

But it is those songs and the nostalgia that goes along with them, paired with the chance to watch Neal Schon do his thing on guitar, which is always something to behold. The dude simply does not get the appropriate amount of due that he should for his guitar work and year after year, it’s always a pleasure to watch him shred.

Setlist wise, I was a little bit surprised that the Journey set was only 14 tracks, clocking in at a hair under the 80 minute mark. Two of those came from the new album, with the remainder being classics from the catalog, although interestingly enough, ‘Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’’ was absent from the set for the first time that I can remember, since they returned initially with Steve Augeri on vocals. Aside from ‘Stone in Love,’ the setlist played things pretty safe with no real rarities or album tracks, ala ‘After The Fall,’ ‘Chain Reaction,’ but perhaps they were planning appropriately for the hit-loaded setlists that they’d be up against with Foreigner and Night Ranger on the bill.

If that’s the case, they were smart, because Foreigner delivered a performance last night that quite simply, was the performance of the evening. I’ve seen the new lineup of Foreigner with Kelly Hansen quite a few times now and they absolutely owned the stage in a way that I’ve never seen them do before.

It’s interesting, because they’ve been playing nearly the same setlist year in and year out (minus a bit of new material last year with a fresh album to promote) and it’s that kind of behavior that normally would have me griping about the lack of variety. But with Foreigner, it’s a seasoned set of songs that go together well and if they’re tired of performing the same songs over and over again, it doesn’t show a bit in their performance, which was completely exuberant and on fire for the nearly70 minutes of stage time. They didn’t play a single note of material from ‘Can’t Slow Down’ and that’s likely a calculated move as they continue to work to re-establish the Foreigner brand.

Related to that point, one thing that was common with all three bands on the night was the product placement-like display of either band logos or album covers, often between every song. Let’s face it, everybody is doing it and it was certainly an in-your-face way to remind the fans between each song exactly which band was on stage. The flaming Foreigner logo that was displayed prior to and during ‘Hot Blooded’ was a nice KISS-like touch.

(On a side note, they've got an interesting new release coming out in September, again via Wal-Mart, that will find them revisiting their hits both electrically and acoustically)

Night Ranger as the opener? Hell yeah. I’m always happy to have the chance to see Night Ranger live as they were one of those bands that broke up before I started going to concerts and I figured I’d probably never have the chance to see them live.

Their new album ‘Somewhere in California’ is a classic Night Ranger record in every sense of the word and it was very cool to see them open up with ‘Lay It One Me,’ one of the heaviest tracks on the new album and very unexpected – I honestly thought they would just toss out ‘Growing Up In California,’ since that was the initial single that everybody heard as an introduction to the new material.

They were on stage for a mere (yet expected) 40 minutes and I would have loved to have seen at least 20 more minutes on top of that. Midway through their set time, they dropped in a cover of ‘High Enough’ by Damn Yankees that felt a bit misplaced in comparison to their usual cover choice of ‘Coming of Age’ from the same group (frontman Jack Blades was in Damn Yankees, just in case you were born after 1993 and need help with the connection). Vocally, it just seemed like a song that might be ugly territory 20 years on and indeed, they seemed to be reaching for some of the notes.

Blades was wearing a vintage WMMS Buzzard BBQ t-shirt from a Blossom show that Night Ranger had performed at in the ‘80s with .38 Special – a very cool touch that hammered home the very real affection that Night Ranger has always demonstrated for Cleveland during their visits to the city, always giving big credit to Cleveland for being a major part of their success as a band as one of the first cities to play ‘Sister Christian.’

Overall, it was a really fun night with one of the better tour packages I’ve seen, rivaling the Journey show from a few summers ago with Heart and Cheap Trick.

My pal Matthew Wilkening wrote up the show for Ultimate Classic Rock and you can check out his words on both Journey and Foreigner.

Hear two out of the three bands for yourself tonight – Rewind 94.9 in Cincinnati will be broadcasting both Journey and Foreigner, live as it happens.

Setlists:

Night Ranger:

Lay It On Me
Sing Me Away
High Enough
When You Close Your Eyes
Don't Tell Me You Love Me (w/ teases of Hotel California and Highway Star)
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock In America

Foreigner:

Double vision
Head Games
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like The First Time
Urgent
I Wanna Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded

Encore:

Juke Box Hero

Journey:

Separate Ways
Ask The Lonely
City Of Hope
Only The Young
Send Her My Love
Guitar Solo
Stone In Love
Edge Of The moment
Lights
Wheel In The Sky
Keyboard Solo
Open Arms
Be Good To Yourself
Faithfully
Don't Stop Believin'

Encore:

Anyway You Want It

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