Green Day did not sell out this year. Neither did Coldplay nor Creed. But on Saturday night, Journey did.

Journey’s Saturday night New Orleans concert struck a deep chord

By Keith Spera, The Times-Picayune

September 28, 2009, 12:34PM

Green Day did not sell out the New Orleans Arena this year. Neither did Coldplay nor Creed.

But on Saturday night, Journey did.

Despite not entirely unwarranted accusations of being trite to the point of nonsensical, Journey’s hits, like those of Def Leppard, struck a deep and abiding chord with a generation of fans. Three decades later, those songs still roam the pop culture landscape. They serve as “American Idol” fare, major league baseball rallying cries and the soundtrack to the final scene of “The Sopranos.”

Journey’s roster has always been fluid, but Steve Perry’s 20 year run as lead singer yielded the key hits. Of the current line-up, guitarist Neal Schon and bassist Ross Valory were present at Journey’s 1973 inception. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain joined for 1981’s massively successful “Escape” album.

In the post-Perry era, fans have accepted three new lead singers. After dismissing replacement No. 2, Schon could have laid Journey to rest and played clubs the rest of his career. His other option was to search YouTube, discover one Arnel Pineda, frontman for a cover band in the Philippines, hire Pineda, and continue to fill arenas, grossing around $750,000 per night.

If I’m Schon, I’m on the next flight to Manila.

Truth be told, Journey’s songs matter more than the musicians who render them. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the most popular iTunes “catalog” download of all time, merited its very own souvenir T-shirt at the merchandise tables; the shirt doesn’t even mention the band’s name.

Whether Journey 2009 is simply the latest incarnation of an ever-evolving roster or the world’s greatest Journey cover band is a philosophical distinction deemed irrelevant by the 16,000 or so at the New Orleans Arena on Saturday. “Wheel in the Sky,” “Open Arms” and “Lovin,’ Touchin’, Squeezin’” were met with ecstatic hugs and high-fives throughout the arena. The opening guitar riffs of “Stone In Love” still thrilled. “Faithfully” conjured memories of slow dancing at prom circa 1983.

The minimal production featured a static backdrop and no nods to nostalgia – no vintage Journey video montages, no acknowledgement of the band’s history. Perhaps his bandmates felt no need to burden Pineda with that legacy.

In the show’s early going, the singer persevered through trouble with his inner-ear monitors. He spun like a dervish, hopped off the drum riser, waved and made happy-rock faces, supplying most of the band’s personality. His limited between-song banter still bore a trace of his homeland’s accent.

But his high tenor was remarkably similar to Perry’s – it managed to sound simultaneously hollow and gritty. Pineda’s take on “Escape” struck directly in Perry’s wheelhouse, as did “Be Good to Yourself,” “Open Arms” and “Lights.” He sang “Faithfully” in a lower register than Perry, but fans fell all over themselves just the same. And his voice defined “Never Walk Away” and other cuts from Journey’s 2008 album, “Revelation,” which nestled comfortably alongside the likes of “Separate Ways.”

Deen Castronovo, Journey’s drummer since 1998, sat in with opening act Night Ranger for “Sister Christian,” then returned to propel the headliner’s set with an equally aggressive attack. He also sang lead, somewhat less successfully, on “Keep on Runnin’.”

Attempts to shake up codified arrangements – a detour in “Don’t Stop Believin,” a possibly unintentional meandering in “Stone In Love,” a bludgeoned section of “Wheel in the Sky” – derailed momentum. More subtle twists, such as Cain’s boogie-woogie piano in “Escape,” worked.

The underrated Schon – before founding Journey, he stood toe-to-toe with Carlos Santana in an early version of Santana – consistently nailed his trademark guitar solos. He might have stretched out and showed off even more. On the final “Anyway You Want It,” he played fast and loose with the solo, then returned to the familiar blueprint. The audience embraced it like an old friend.

via> Journey’s Saturday night New Orleans concert struck a deep chord


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: