Saturday, April 20, 2024

Journey ’Live’ at Lollapalooza

Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Journey have been releasing ‘live’ albums for many years, so another one will delight the legions of fans who’ve elevated the band to the status of rock royalty. Over the years, they’ve become a staple feature of US classic rock radio, with that song consistently near the top of the most played and most streamed playlists.

The set on this release was recorded during Journey’s appearance at Lollapalooza, Chicago, in July 2021, when the ‘live’ scene was beginning to reawaken after you know what. It suggests Journey are more than just a superannuated bunch of veteran rockers who’re on a bank raid to supplement their pensions, and in 2022 they’ve even released Freedom, their first new album of original songs since 2011.

On the evidence of Lollapalooza, Journey come across as a finely tuned machine who can play a set containing hits and other material almost effortlessly. Journey does exactly what it says on the tin; they give you polished, arena-style AOR rock with all the rough edges removed … if you’re a fan, this is a set you’ll probably salivate over. There are all the songs you’d expect to hear at a Journey gig – classics like ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, ‘Who’s Sorry Now’, ‘Still They Ride’, ‘Faithfully’ and ‘Separate Ways’ – and they’re all played with some degree of consummate professionalism to an adoring crowd.

For them it works, they play safe, they take no risks and there’s almost no improvising onstage. Everything is rehearsed down to the last note and all songs are virtually note for note identical to the album. Neal Schon (guitar) and Jonathan Cain (keyboards) are seasoned pros who’ve kept the flame alive with a set of assured performances which would be familiar to anyone who’s had their ear to classic rock radio down the years, which has enabled them to win over a younger generation of fans whose parents were probably still in junior high when ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ was released forty years back.

But, while there’s no doubting the quality of the musicianship involved, it would be good if Journey let rip more often and went for it as they do on tracks like ‘Be Good To Yourself’ and ‘La Do Da’, where Schon moves away from AOR licks and engages in some scorching guitar pyrotechnics, and omit tracks like the bland ‘Lights’. This would remove the oft-made claims they’re “too polished” and “lack edge”. But then as might be said, if it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it.  

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Journey have been releasing ‘live’ albums for many years, so another one will delight the legions of fans who’ve elevated the band to the status of rock royalty. Over the years, they’ve become a staple feature of US...Journey ’Live’ at Lollapalooza