at Edinburgh Playhouse, U.K., June 2, 2006

A lot of water has flowed under the proverbial bridge since Journey last graced the shores of the United Kingdom. 27 years to be precise. 27 long years with many changes to the musical landscape along the way. The face of the band has also changed since the classic halcyon days of the 80s with vocal legend Steve Perry now long departed and replaced by former Tall Stories/Tyketto front man Steve Augeri.

Edinburgh Playhouse, an intimate 2000-seater, old-style theatre, was the choice for Journey to open their long-awaited European tour, and the Scots didn’t let the band down. The show was sold out pretty much as soon as the dates were announced, and the packed venue was eager to welcome their heroes even before the first note rang out. The anticipation was almost unbearable as showtime approached. As the band strolled onto the sparse stage, the audience collectively leapt out of their seats, hands held high, roaring out their appreciation. Journey seemed visibly taken aback by the reaction, and right from the start rose admirably to the occasion.

Opening with one of the finest AOR anthems ever penned, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” was a masterstroke. Augeri, right from the start, showed what an incredibly talented singer that he is. He oozed confidence and class throughout, and never once fell into the shadows of his illustrious predecessor. Segueing seamlessly into “Ask The Lonely,” Journey showed that they were intent on making up for lost time.

What followed was a treasure trove of classic material, from early gems such as “Wheel In The Sky” and “Just The Same Way,” right through to “Faith In The Heartland” and “Out of Harms Way” from the excellent new Generations album. Featured heavily in the set were no less than nine cuts from their classic 1981 release, Escape.

Here is a band at the very top of their game, consummate musicians whose art has been crafted by years of experience and hard graft, producing a slik, polished show of such a high standard that their peers are left trailing in their wake. Each musician contributes so effectively to the overall sonic tapestry to create an emotional rollercoaster of spirited rocking anthems and touching tear-jerking ballads.

In Neal Schon they have the most complete guitarist in Melodic Rock… his solo in “Who’s Crying Now” is jaw dropping. Constructed around such a simple, yet devastatingly effective melody, the crowd roared their appreciation as the notes resonated around the theatre — a truly spine tingling moment. Conversely, Schon made his guitar scream and soar during the frantic climax to “Mother Father,” whilst retaining his melodic hallmark throughout, and again brought the audience enthusiastically to their feet just as they did when he fired off a couple of verses of the crowd pleasing Scottish perennials “Loch Lomond” and “Amazing Grace” in his prelude to “Stone In Love.”

In Jonathan Cain, they have a multi-talented musician who not only supplies the keyboard colors and dynamics to the songs, but also rhythm guitar, lead vocals to “Just The Same Way,” and even a blast of harmonica to the Blues jam prelude to set closer “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’.”

Deen Castronovo is a drummer of such energy and animation that you would swear that he has more than two arms! Yet there is more to his talents than thumping the drums; Castronovo takes over lead vocal duties on no less than three songs: “Where Were You,” a gorgeous “Still They Ride,” and one of the shows many highlights “Mother Father”… surely one of the finest nuggets in the Journey treasure chest, with Castronovo pulling off a Herculean dual performance on lead vocals and drums, and he never dropped a note or missed a beat at any point. Castronovo has a voice that could easily front a band… such is the richness and depth of his delivery. Where has this voice been hiding all of these years?

Steve Augeri probably took over one of the hardest jobs in music. Many people may have been skeptical whether or not he could pull it off, but in truth, his performance tonight was one of the finest vocal displays witnessed in many a year. He squeezed every ounce of emotion from the “Who’s Cryin’ Now” and a stunning “Open Arms,” using his expansive range to full effect, and had the power to drive the rockers forward. Rather than copy Perry, Augeri brought his own inimitable style to the songs, whilst retaining the true spirit of the original compositions. Augeri covered every inch of the stage and demonstrated what a consummate showman he is. Any lingering reservations whatsoever about a Steve Perry-less Journey were undoubtedly washed away by the end of this performance. Steve Augeri must surely now be recognized as an incredible vocalist in his own right. Journey have succeeded in doing the unthinkable in finding a singer so worthy to take over the mantle held by Perry.

Last but not least, original bass player Ross Valory holds the whole show together, providing the solid base on which Schon and Augeri can shine. Valory, who is clearly enjoying himself so much, is a joy to watch interacting with the fans… pulling faces and continuously smiling throughout the show, and his contribution to the Journey sound cannot be underestimated.

Overall, the set was a crowd pleasing mix of classic Journey hits, a couple of new songs, and a couple of real vintage obscurities for the diehard fans. Anyone who thinks of Journey as a Soft Rock band should hear the likes of “Edge of the Blade,” with Schon’s gargantuan opening riff, or the driving power of its Frontiers counterpart, “Chain Reaction,” both highly welcomed additions to the set. The sound of the band throughout was immense and crystal clear, with all instruments finely balanced in the mix, and the sound of a five-part vocal harmony was a joy to behold.

Journey, in their two and a quarter hour show, provided a real treat to their starved European fans, and if the reaction of the audience in Edinburgh is anything to go by, it surely won’t be another 27 years before they head back over here. Quite simply, one of the finest shows seen on these shores for many a year.


Separate Ways (World’s Apart)
Ask The Lonely
Only The Young
Faith In The Heartland
Neal Schon Guitar Solo (included Loch Lomond and Amazing Grace)
Stone In Love
Wheel In The Sky
Where Were You (Deen Castronovo vocals)
Still They Ride (Deen Castronovo vocals)
Just The Same Way (Jonathan Cain vocals)
Chain Reaction
Dead Or Alive
Edge Of The Blade
Who’s Cryin’ Now
Mother Father (Deen Castronovo vocals)
Open Arms
Out Of Harms Way
Don’t Stop Believin’
Any Way You Want It
Be Good To Yourself
Keep On Runnin’
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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