A Familiar Journey Through Band’s Glory Days — Courant.com

Journey is three vocalists removed from its heyday, when Steve Perry fronted the band. But if you close your eyes, you’d hardly notice. By following a strategy of employing Perry sound-alikes, the five-man group has remained a popular touring attraction, and Journey showed its nostalgia chops Sunday night at the Chevrolet Theatre in Wallingford with a performance powered by its trademark slick pop rock.
Current singer Arnel Pineda is not slavish to Perry’s original work, but it was clear from the opener, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” that he learned the songs’ intonations from listening to the same records. It is readily conceivable that Journey can continue to trade on the same songs for all eternity, so long as it can keep finding replacement parts who can play “Only the Young” with the same sort of showoff flair that guitarist Neal Schon — the band’s only original with uninterrupted service — splashed across it in one of his many flashy fills.

Drummer Deen Castronovo attacked every backbeat and provided lead vocals of his own, also making a point of aping Perry as he snapped at “Keep on Runnin’.” He sounded much the same even when singing tunes that post-dated Perry’s time with the band, yelping 2001’s “Higher Place” in a manner that suggests the band considers Perry’s cadence to be its own intellectual property, for use on anything it chooses.

The group’s new tunes sounded like its old ones, manicured mainstream rock crafted into tight packages, such as the bounding “Never Walk Away” and the propulsive “Change for the Better,” which came complete with a standard-issue swelled chorus and an array of arch, posturing lyrics from some anthem writer’s handbook. Pineda wailed with enthusiasm and conviction but was rarely his own singer, and only then in small flourishes that added mild dressing to the likes of the ultra-average prom theme “Faithfully.”

Jonathan Cain’s piano playing frequently smoothed out the band’s sound, whether it was draped across the puffy sway of “Open Arms” or pushing the sprightly pulse of “Don’t Stop Believing.” Schon dropped in more sizzling work as the show closed with the hard charging “Any Way You Want It” and was the source of further pyrotechnics as a gateway to an encore of the throbbing “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”

Fellow 1980s mainstay Heart opened the show with a 75-minute trip through its past, serving up pop-rock bludgeons along the lines of “Barracuda” and the chunk hooked “Never.” Singer Ann Wilson was the most expansive presence in songs littered with them, occasionally shaky when she tried to hit the subtle part of a lyric squarely, but able to blare “Straight On” with her still-tuneful rock howl.

Nancy Wilson was the more refined of the five-piece group’s two primary drivers, her singing more artfully composed as she led a navigation of “These Dreams,” but her sibling remained the group’s signature presence. Heart polished off its set with its sturdy 1976 debut “Crazy on You” and returned for a two-song encore, starting with a pleasantly mellow, swaying rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” before going back to its outsized wheelhouse for the pulsating “Magic Man.”

via A Familiar Journey Through Band’s Glory Days — Courant.com.

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