Sunday, August 3, 2003

Sound-alike singers carry Journey-REO-Styx retro show


Concert review

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dennis DeYoung and Steve Perry can empathize with each other's situations.

DeYoung's former band, Styx, not only carries on without him, they've enlisted a singer who sounds like and looks a little like him.

Perry is out of Journey, but the only way you can tell him from his replacement Steve Augeri is Augeri's perm. Their singing voices couldn't sound more similar.

And so at Riverbend Saturday there was an attack of the clones, classic-rock style. Augeri did his Perry act and Lawrence Gowan did DeYoung as Journey, REO Speedwagon and Styx united for a triple bill.

Each of the three bands is at least 15 years past its creative prime, so it's good business strategy to recreate those long-ago notes with same-sounding singers. Who needs Perry, the Journey brain trust concluded, when Augeri does the job? It's sort of like what Perry must have meant when he once sang: "the wheels on the speedwagon keep on rolling like the River Styx," or something like that.

Journey delivered an 85-minute headline set programmed predictably and filled with several Perry compositions. Songs included "Separate Ways," "Wheel in the Sky," "Lights," "Open Arms," "Ask the Lonely," "Be Good to Yourself," "Any Way You Want It," "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'," "Faithfully," and more.

The show was the last of the three-month tour, so there were inter-band performances and high jinks throughout the night. REO frontman Kevin Cronin (we believe it was indeed Cronin and not a clone) and Styx's Tommy Shaw joined Journey with vocal support on "Don't Stop Believin'."

REO's hour-long set could be called the best of the night, if only because Cronin is still around. The crowd's reaction to all three bands was tremendous, and Cronin repeatedly made mention of how good a Journey-REO-Styx town Cincinnati is. The show was nearly sold out.

During REO's performance, Augeri and Styx's James Young came to the stage in a towel and a bathrobe, respectively. If you ever want to see Cronin laugh, just send a robe-wearing James Young his way.

Shaw handled much of the lead vocals during Styx's opening set, but when it came time for "Grand Illusion" and "Come Sail Away," Gowan was in all of his full-voice DeYoung glory.

E-mail cvarias@enquirer.com




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