Journey/Foreigner/Night Ranger Concert Review
AUGUST 2ND, 2011
BLOSSOM MUSIC CENTER - CUYAHOGA FALLS, OHIO
On this hot and overcast early evening, Night Ranger got the show started off with “Lay It On Me” from their brand new CD, SOMEWHERE IN CALIFORNIA. There’s no question that these seasoned veterans still know how to put on a great show, and sound wonderful doing it, but the crowd didn’t seem to connect with the new material. However, when they went into their next song, “Sing Me Away” they started to get the crowd’s attention. Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, Kelly Keagy, Joel Hoekstra, and Eric Levy then threw in the DAMN YANKEES biggest song, “High Enough” and made it sound like their own. Jack’s vocals were spot on all set, but this was a true highlight. The Fans really started to give them their attention. After some brief pleasantries with the crowd, they moved directly to “When You Close Your Eyes” with a few verses of Hotel California and Space Truckin’ thrown in for good measure. No matter how great the band sounded to this point, Night Ranger saved their best performances for their last two songs. Jack, describing to the fans how Cleveland and one of its biggest rock stations, WMMS, helped propel the next song, being one of the first to give it air play, lighters came out and fans started swaying to the opening piano lines of “Sister Christian.” No question about it, Kelly may have put on a few years, and his voice may not be the same as it was 25 years ago, but he lit up the crowd with some wonderful singing. Without missing a beat or losing momentum, Night Ranger finished off their set with “(You Can Still) Rock In America. A fantastic, but extremely short set for these true professionals, they did not once let anyone down.
After a brief intermission, and a very cool video display of neon blue lightning, Foreigner erupted on the stage with “Double Vision.” For those who have any issue of Foreigner not being the same band without Lou Gramm, you are sadly missing out on one helluva talented singer in Kelly Hanson. Sounding like Lou Gramm, looking like Steven Tyler, and bringing a whole new energy to the band, they absolutely ripped the crowd apart during their next two numbers, “Head Games” and “Cold As Ice” with Kelly making some comments about the heat as part of his intro to the latter. Providing a truly romantic backdrop to the couples out in the crowd, they slowed things down with “Waiting For A Girl Like You”. I have to say, listening to that song on the radio for the last 30 years still does not compare to the chills and emotions you feel when hearing it live. What a wonderful moment that was and the fans gladly thanked the band in return with a huge ovation. Not one to rest on the popularity of a single song, Kelly Hanson, Mick Jones, Michael Bluestein, Jeff Pilson, and Mark Schulman continued to hold the crowd in the palm of their hands, pumping out the classics, “Dirty White Boy”, “Feels Like The First Time” and especially, “Urgent” with an extended sax solo by Thom Gimbel. Kelly, knowing he had everyone where he wanted them, made sure the fans were involved when the opening of “ I Want To Know What Love Is” started. Thousands of amateur karaoke singers provided backing vocals, and some leads, with neither the band or the fans wanting it to stop. Racing through a perfect “Hot Blooded”, Foreigner finished their set with an extended version of “Jukebox Hero”, arguably their biggest song. Mick used this as his chance to coax a fantastic guitar solo out of his aging, yet nimble fingers. A fitting way to finish a set that could have gone on much longer without getting a single argument from the crowd.
After a quite lengthy intermission, while the roadies worked on stage, Journey, with their Energizer Bunny of a frontman, Arnel Pineda, burst onto the stage, getting the show kicked off with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” to near perfection. Just as the song was coming to an end, the skies in the heavens provided the crowd with a little relief as the raindrops began to fall. Though light at this moment, it became a steady drizzle by the end of the show with no one minding. Whether they were trying to change up their set list a bit, or breathe a little life into second tier classics, Journey went into “Ask The Lonely” and “Only The Young” with a new song off of ECLIPSE called “City Of Hope” which, though sounding great, slowed the band’s roll they created with “Separate Ways”. But hoping to regain the fans trust and enthusiasm, they found their groove again with “Send Her My Love” and “Stone In Love”. Another new song, “Edge Of The Moment” again stalled the run they were on, with people wandering through the crowd, not paying it too much attention. Back on their feet, and ready for a classic, Journey was more than happy to give the crowd what they wanted with “Lights”, “Wheel In The Sky” and the oft-played ballad, “Open Arms” with a touching piano solo intro by Jonathan Cain, followed by “Be Good To Yourself”. As Arnel removed another piece of clothing (started off with a vest over a t-shirt, but after those became soaked in sweat, he stripped down to a tank top), the band, Arnel, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Jonathan Cain, and Deen Castronovo lit up the hearts of the crowds, with their arms around a loved one, with the ultimate love song, “Faithfully.” As much as I respect Steve Perry for his vocal abilities, there is not a single one of his notes that Arnel can’t hit, and he proved that tonight. Possessed by Perry, but with his own energetic charm, he really owns the song live. One of the disappointments of the night, if you can call it that, was the feeling of a Glee episode during “Don’t Stop Believin” with fans, who had been sitting on their hands during the rest of the set, finally standing up as if they only knew or wanted to hear this single song. With confetti being blown into the air at the conclusion, the band said goodnight, while the fans were eager to let them know they were not ready to leave yet. With that, Journey returned for their encore, “Any Way You Want It” which brought down the house. A brief introduction of band members and they said their goodbyes for the evening. On a personal note, I was rather disappointed with a few choices of songs, and the omission of “Mother, Father” with vocals usually handled by Deen Castronovo live, but all in all, it was a great night for classic rock n’ roll!
Last Updated (Monday, 08 August 2011 19:17)