Review by Paul Quinton
Jeff Scott Soto’s Summer tour of Europe was originally going to bypass the UK, until, after a degree of pressure via social media, three dates, in London, Sheffield and this one in Buckley, North Wales, were slotted in at the end of the tour. He’s currently celebrating 30 years in the business in various bands and projects, and the tour was intended to celebrate and highlight as many facets of his lengthy career as possible.
Londoners NEURONSPOILER provided support. A five-piece, they’re clearly ambitious, and can no doubt play, but unfortunately it seemed that however ambitious they were, on tonight’s evidence they’re lacking certain factors that would help them achieve their ambitions. A lot of the time they seemed straight from the NWOBHM, with serious Maiden influences, and often their songs were too easy to describe as ‘That sounds like……..’ The riff to one song, called ‘Return from Privilege’ (I think), had me thinking about Priests’ ‘Running Wild’ almost instantly, for example. Perhaps if the band cut down on the rock star posing, which for me was way over the top, and a distraction from their performance, and concentrated on their songwriting, they could be a contender, but until then, there’s not a lot to go on here.
JEFF SCOTT SOTO is one of those names of whom melodic rock fans are genuinely baffled as to why he isn’t much, much better known. He’s a cracking singer, a superlative live performer, hugely respected in the industry, and yet, despite his time with Yngwie, Axel Rudi Pell, the wondrous Talisman and his soundtrack work, he’s probably still best known for his ill-fated spell with Journey. Now he couples his solo career with a role in the Trans Siberian Orchestra, who are one the biggest live draws in the USA. In keeping with the celebration of his 30 years in the business, his near two-hour set managed to feature something from all almost all his career, and while the songs from his solo work were played in full, he represented his work in band projects was put together in a string of medleys, an idea which worked brilliantly live. From one of his current projects, the magnificent W.E.T., it was a brief pairing of ‘Learn To Live Again’ with ‘One Love’ quite early in the set, but it was also good to hear some Axel Rudi Pell, including an all too brief excerpt from ‘Way of the Warrior’. That’s not to neglect his excellent solo work, the songs from which were played in full, including the excellent ‘Believe In Me’, written with Neal Schon, and songs from his most recent solo album, Damage Control.
JSS’s recent appearance with Talisman at The Sweden Rock Festival was a one-off intended as a tribute to the band’s late bassist, Marcel Jacob, but undoubtedly the highlight of this show was the lengthy Talisman medley; featuring excerpts from no less than ten of the band’s songs. It re-emphasised what great songs the band recorded, especially stuff like ‘Dangerous’, ‘Break Your Chains’ and the awesome ‘Mysterious,’ and was one of the best things I’ve seen all year, highlighting my eternal regret that I never got to see the band live, and to be frank, was worth the cost of the ticket alone.
The one part of the man’s career that wasn’t featured, perhaps understandably, was his time in Journey, although bassist Dave Z. did try to persuade him by playing the intro to ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ during his bass solo. That was in keeping with the band’s overall attitude to the show, they were clearly determined to have fun while on stage, and this was epitomised during the encore, in a spot entitled ‘Sing The Shirt’, during which the band picked out audience members band T-shirts, and played an appropriate song. Thus we had short bursts of songs by Queen, Iron Maiden and Kiss, where Soto’s impersonation of Paul Stanley’s stage moves brought the house down, although the band, probably wisely, ignored the chap stood near me in the Dream Theater T-shirt.
All in all, this was an absolutely terrific show, by a hugely talented band and a frontman who never fails to entertain. Although this was a show for a particular anniversary, I hope more people get the chance to see it over the next few years or so, because it was two hours of the highest quality music that any rock fan would have enjoyed. Outstanding show.
1. Where Is The Love
2. 21st Century
3. Damage Control
5. W.E.T. Medley (Where Is The Love, One Love)
6. Believe in Me
7. Look Inside Your Heart
8. Soul Divine
9. Axel Rudi Pell Medley (Fool, Fool, Way Of The Warrior)
10. Eyes of Love
11. Jorge Salan guitar solo
12. Talisman Medley (Break Your Chains, Day by Day, Give Me A Sign, Colour My XTC, Dangerous, Just Between Us, Mysterious, Frozen, Crazy, I’ll Be Waiting)
13. Dave Z. bass solo (Billie Jean)
14. Yngwie Malmsteen Medley (I Am A Viking, I See The Light Tonight).
15. Living The Life (incorporating ‘sing The Shirt’)