A Foreigners Journey

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A Foreigners Journey - Birdwell Venue, Barnsley (UK) - 16 November 2019

A large crowd (approximately four hundred) assembled for what was essentially a hometown gig for one of the UK's premier tribute bands A Foreigners Journey (AFJ). Last week at the same venue it was sad to see only a meagre turnout for new AOR; however, this evening proved that there is still a desire to hear the old classics.
The Birdwell Venue is an old Working Men's Club with tables and chairs around the outside and behind a large dance floor, which is situated in front of a big, purpose-built stage. At times it felt like a school disco, especially during the early parts of the show with the dance floor being largely full of ladies dancing. As the evening progressed more and more ventured forward.

Ricky Middleton (guitars & backing vocals), Jon Pease (keyboards & backing vocals), Paul Flanagan (bass & backing vocals) and Ian Ferris (drums) hit the stage to warm applause as they started the intro to the Journey classic 'Separate Ways (World's Apart)'. They were soon joined by charismatic lead singer Andrea Ojano.

With such a huge back catalogue to choose from, it was no surprise that the hits kept coming one after another. What was a surprise, however, was the amount of Journey songs compared to Foreigner ones in the first half of the show. By the end of the set, it had balanced out a bit more. One of my highlights at an AFJ show is how the band segue from the guitar/keyboard solo at the end of Journey's 'Stone In Love' to the riff-tastic 'Edge Of A Blade'. The backing vocals were of high quality; however, this evening I didn't think the harmony vocals were as good as I've heard the band produce on previous occasions, as highlighted on 'I'll Be Alright Without You'.
One of the great things about AFJ is the fact you can see the obvious enjoyment the band gets from playing these songs live, none more so than Middleton, who loves the opportunity to show off his talents on the Neil Schon (Journey) solos, as highlighted on the exceptional 'Who's Crying Now'.
At the end of Journey's 'Be Good To Yourself' all the band left the stage with Ojano returning by himself with an acoustic guitar. As he warmed up, the crowd took over with an obvious favourite, but not from one of the two bands you would have expected; instead it was Whitesnake's 'Here I Go Again'. Ojano then continued with the deepest cut of the evening, Foreigner's 'The Flame Still Burns'. Amusingly, he had to restart the song as he initially could not remember the lyrics! It was then back to the more recognisable classics. Ojano did stop and restart 'Cold As Ice' as the initial audience participation was a little lacklustre; not so the second time round. Journey's 'Anyway You Want It' concluded the main set.

The three song encore saw the dance floor completely fill up and the show was brought to a climax with the greatest song of all time (in my humble opinion), the Melodic Rock uber-classic 'Don't Stop Believin''.

My only own minor disappointment is that AFJ no longer have a saxophonist; so, Foreigner's 'Urgent' is excluded from the set. As I said, only a minor discontent. If you love live music, and in particular the classics of Foreigner and Journey, then I cannot recommend highly enough you check out A Foreigners Journey. Fantastic entertainment.

Setlist:- Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (Journey) / Ask The Lonely (Journey) / Double Vision (Foreigner) / Waiting For A Girl Like You (Foreigner) / Stone In Love (Journey) / Edge Of The Blade (Journey) / Head Games (Foreigner) / Faithfully (Journey) / I'll Be Alright Without You (Journey) / Who's Crying Now (Journey) / Be Good To Yourself (Journey) / Here I Go Again (Whitesnake) / The Flame Still Burns (Foreigner) / Feels Like The First Time (Foreigner) / Cold As Ice (Foreigner) / Anyway You Want It (Journey)
Encore: Jukebox Hero (Foreigner) / I Want To Know What Love Is (Foreigner) / Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)

Review and photos by Mark Donnelly

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