It was a crowning night for country music when The Journey Tour rolled through London on Saturday (Feb. 23) bringing Paul Brandt, High Valley, Jess Moskaluke and The Hunter Brothers to the Start.ca Performance Stage at Budweiser Gardens.
Lasting nearly four hours, country fans were treated to Canadian hits that spanned at least 25 years that culminated in duets and joint performances with all the artists. It felt more like a small festival than it did a standard concert event – the crowd was loud and the artists were hyped right from the get-go. The audience was so loud, reporters could hear the reactions and sing-alongs backstage as far as the opposite end of the arena.
Paul Brandt was in good spirits as he came out of the gates with three songs from his dual-EP called The Journey, but things got louder and prouder once he broke into My Heart Has A History, which he noted was the most played Canadian country song in history.
He then did a little mini-set of tunes from his Small Towns Big Dreams album, including the title cut, which he mentioned performing in places like Weyburn, Saskatchewan. High Valley joined him for When You Call My Name, where the members of the band walked through the audience.
The collaborations continued with The Hunter Brothers offering up some stunning background vocals for the 1918 Christian song Life’s Railway to Heaven and the classic Amazing Grace.
One of Paul’s greatest assets is that incredibly low vocal range, which we got to hear with YYC BNA, his homage to travelling from Calgary to Nashville.
Throughout the show the video board flashed photos and music video clips from throughout Paul’s personal life and career, but none was more touching than the slideshow with his wife Liz during I Do, which still seems to strike a chord with him. It’s the only song where his voice cracked ever so slightly when he sang it.
Jess Moskaluke joined him for their 2015 duet I’m an Open Road, which was pretty special because we rarely get to see the original performers together on stage – it was a special moment for fans to catch the duo.
He continued to plow his way through the hits, including Alberta Bound, Didn’t Even See The Dust and Convoy, the later of which was the absolute highlight of the show, where he was joined by the pitch perfect harmony of The Hunter Brothers once again.
Paul closed his show with a cover of Johnny Cash’s Walk The Line where The Hunter Brothers, High Valley and Jess Moskaluke all joined in. This incredible crew made the whole evening feel like a massive family party and we were invited to join them.
Saskatchewan’s Hunter Brothers opened the show with a short set full of harmonies, melodies and incredible vocals. At times they cam across a bit like vintage Oak Ridge Boys, but the music was a bit more modern and catchier.
Juno Award winner Jess Moskaluke rocked the crowd with an eight-song set that included There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back as a tribute to her early days as a YouTube cover artist. Nearly every one of the songs she played was a country radio hit, including her latest single Save Some of That Whiskey. She even pulled out a new song Halfway Home, which might appear on her next EP.
High Valley is no stranger to the area, the band has been around the region dozens of times in the past, earning them a strong following. Tonight, the boys were on fire. Their set was stellar and they had more energy that all the performers of this tour combined. This was when the audience started going crazy. They sang along to nearly every song in the show, but things got noisy during the covers of John Michael Montgomery’s Be My Baby Tonight, Alan Jackson’s Chattahoochee and a medley of I Saw The Light, I’ll Fly Away and Shut Up and Dance With Me.
High Valley closed their set with their number one hit I Be U Be, where they jumped into the fan pit at the front of the stage. It was all party-all the time for these La Crête, Alberta boys.
The Journey Tour was a special show that country fans will remember for a long time. Here’s hoping more bands continue to do these mini-festival shows that incorporate all the artists in the finale. It’s a win-win for the fans and the up-and-comers in the show.
The Journey Tour, London, ON – Sat. Feb. 23, 2019
- The Journey
- All About Her
- My Heart Has a History
- I’m Gonna Fly
- When You Call My Name (with High Valley)
- Small Towns and Big Dreams
- Life’s Railway to Heaven (with Hunter Brothers)
- Amazing Grace (with Hunter Brothers)
- YYC BNA
- I Do
- I’m an Open Road (with Jess Moskaluke)
- Leavin’ / Didn’t Even See The Dust / Alberta Bound
- Thank You, Thank You
- Convoy (with Hunter Brothers)
- Walk The Line Medley (with High Valley, Jess Moskaluke and Hunter Brothers)
- County Line
- Come On Down
- Dear Life
- Love You For A Long Time
- Be My Baby Tonight (John Michael Montgomery cover)
- Chattahoochee (Alan Jackson cover)
- Single Man
- Young Forever
- I Saw the Light / I’ll Fly Away / Shut Up and Dance With Me
- Make You Mine
- She’s With Me
- I Be U Be
- Drive Me Away
- Kiss Me Quiet
- Save Some Of That Whiskey
- There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back (Shawn Mendes cover)
- Halfway Home (new song)
- Take Me Home
- Cheap Wine & Cigarettes
- Those Were the Nights
- When You Love A Girl
- Born and Raised