At The Corporation, Sheffield, U.K., November 24, 2007

Jeff Scott Soto has probably recorded more albums than any other artist you can care to mention. From his debut appearance on Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force album in 1984, he has recorded for a plethora of artists including Talisman, Eyes, Takara, Soul Sirkus, and Axel Rudi Pell, as well as having a thriving solo career in his own right.

More recently, Soto was handed his dream role filling in for the incapacitated Steve Augeri in Journey, firstly on a stand-in basis, then as the permanent lead singer for the AOR legends. After receiving huge critical acclaim for his performances, it looked as though Soto had found a stage at last appropriate for his immense talent. Unfortunately, as life has a horrible habit of knocking you back just as you get up, Soto was unceremoniously dismissed from the band as Journey decided to hark back to their classic sound rather than move forward into the 21st Century with a more Soto-fronted contemporary style.

Despite this knock back, Soto is not the sort of artist to sit back and mope, and in a matter of weeks after the news broke, he announced a series of U.K. shows together with a clutch of new songs available to hear on his My Space site.

Soto arrived in the U.K. for his opening show without sleeping for the previous 24 hours… not that you’d notice as he hit the stage to a rousing “Mysterious” from his Talisman days, ably accompanied by long-time associates Gary Schutt, Howie Simon, and Dave Dzialak.

With a back catalog as large and diverse as Soto’s, he had plenty of material to pick from and Sheffield was treated to such gems as “New Position” (Soul Sirkus), a pounding “Stand Up” (from the Rockstar soundtrack) and an irrepressibly funky take on “Colour My XTC” by Talisman, and it is the latter where Soto really shines, a veritable bundle of energy and he grooves and glides from one side of the stage to the other.

As well as crowd favorites from his past work, Soto has been hard at work writing new material. “21st Century” contains a hard-edged, groove-laden riff with a contemporary twist, seeing Soto updating his sound for a new era while retaining his superb sense of melody. “Broken Man” features Soto behind his keyboard for a heartfelt tearjerker of a ballad that oozes class and the acoustic “Gin and Sky” where he heads into singer/songwriter territory, displaying an ever-growing maturity to his songwriting. The future looks very rosy for Soto on the strength of this material.

Howie Simon got in on the act too with a soulful take on the Doobie Brothers classic “Long Train Runnin,” and showed what a decent voice he has. In fact, Simon, Schutt, and Dzialak all contribute some fine harmonies to accompany Soto’s soaring voice. Nowhere is this more evident than during the excellent acoustic section where the harmony work comes into its own on the likes of “If This Is The End,” “Cheyenne,” and a moving take on Journey’s “Send Her My Love.”

Despite the crowd being somewhat smaller than what was in attendance at his last U.K. shows with Journey, Soto maintained his energy levels and professionalism right through the whole of the show. Where lesser frontmen may be wilting towards the end of the show, Soto stepped up a gear with a frighteningly groovelicious romp through Sly and The Family Stone’s “I Want To Take You Higher” before rounding off the main set with Journey’s “Separate Ways,” the impact of which was slightly lessened by an increasingly muddy sound mix.

With the encores came party time, featuring a lively mix of highly infectious funky tunes such as “Play That Funky Music” and a re-grooved version of Queens “We Will Rock You” before heading into a great Boogie Knights medley, the side project that Soto has been an member of for the past few years, featuring “Jungle Boogie,” “Brick House,” “The Roof Is On Fire,” and “Stayin’ Alive,” complete with Soto in Travolta style dance moves, before coming full circle and ending with “Play That Funky Music.” Pure entertainment that had the whole club dancing and not a single foot was still throughout.

Jeff Scott Soto is one of Rock’s most versatile and talented vocalists, and one of the finest frontmen around. With the exposure received from his Journey days and some great new material ready for release, 2008 could see him making huge strides forward and finally receiving the rewards that his talents so richly deserve.


  • 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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