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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon turn back the clock

May 22, 2003|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

Blame classic-rock radio. FM heroes Journey, Styx and REO Speedwagon might have been a dream concert for someone in 1980, or for anyone today who can stand to hear the same old tunes yet again. But that fan fantasy came alive Tuesday at Staples Center, roaring on as if punk rock, hip-hop, techno, garage, etc., etc., etc. never happened.

Both Journey and Styx continue despite the absence of at least one key member, but the Staples fans hardly seemed to notice, singing along to the biggest super-mega-hits. It was a nearly full house, and crowds lined up at the concession stands, buying up T-shirts, belt buckles and new recordings destined to be ignored by radio.

Journey performed fine re-creations of its mechanical, anthemic rock and sentimental power ballads. New vocalist Steve Augeri filled in for pop wailer Steve Perry well enough, as each band member took a few moments to spotlight his chops.

And all three bands performed encores, regardless of their spot on the bill. Styx retained a certain kind of showmanship, lowering a giant disco ball, but a new song called "Fields of the Brave," an ode to the U.S., came off as a shrill piano ballad.

Fans reacted most intensely to the hits, which seemed to be the point of the night. Count among them special guest duo Tenacious D., who practically skipped onto the stage for a few minutes of background vocals, somersaults and shouts of "Styx rules!"

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