Journey concert Review | HM

Written by Doug Van Pelt
Doug Van Pelt’s Site

Landing a photo pass meant I had the best seats in the house for the first three songs and after a sampled intro from The Who, Journey didn’t waste any time delivering a well-known hit with “Separate Ways.” From the first note on, the mix was SO sweet with Neal Schon’s guitar cutting through the mix ever so clear. It was funny to see 5 “half stacks” of Marshall cabinets on stage left by the drum riser for Schon’s sound — a far cry from the walls-of-cabs setup of the 80s. The stage was laid out well, with a big flat and roomy platform with six tall tapestries/banners hung from the ceiling. Their texture looked like mummy wrappings or a rock climbing wall — depending upon the lighting situation that varied from burnt orange to light blue.

“Lights” sounded good, which segued into “Still They Ride.” Jonathan Cain played a beautiful piano solo on a giant grand with lots of fog emanating from his riser under blue lights. Neal Schon joined in for a beautiful instrumental jam of melodic notes played with feeling. This segued into “Open Arms.”

Founding member and relocated Austin resident Gregg Rolie came out (and thanks to a fast-moving crew) and played keyboards and sang one of his songs — “Just The Same Way.” While the night was full of enormous emotional highs, this was certainly one of the highlights, and not just because of the hometown sentimentality of it. The song just sounded great. I was hoping he’d stick around for a small set of his songs, like “Feeling The Way” and “City Of the Angels.” But the moment was over and the band marched on, much like their history of personnel changes.

The new singer, Arnel Pineda, jumps around like a jackrabbit, spinning and emoting the joy he probably has fronting a band he loves. (If you’re not familiar with the story of how he was chosen to be their new singer, check out this video segment on YouTube.

Neal Schon approached a mandolin on a stand and started strumming the stringed incident. Jonathan left his keyboard platform to be Neal’s sidekick with a harmonica for an old, dirty romp through Southern flavored blues. It sped up to shouts of “Hey, hey, hey!” and wailing away on harmonica leads. Then came another guitar and “Wheel In The Sky” rocked the house.

Dean Castronova plays a giant double-kick kit with too-many-to-count large toms surrounding him. Bassist Ross Valory looks well but weathered for his age.

journeystage550The bluesy swing of “Lovin, Touchin’ Squeezin’” had the whole crowd (pretty much) swaying their arms up in the air during the “na-na-nana-na-na” parts. After a rousing rocker, the piano keys quietly introduced “Faithfully,” which had more than a few lighters (yes, lighters, not just cell phones) swaying in the air. The band’s habit of segueing from one song to the next with transitions allowed “Don’t Stop Believing” to surprise the audience before they knew to erupt in a huge roar of applause. It was a great moment.

The band left the stage and then returned for one encore — “Any Way You Want It.” The singer hopped off the stage and made use of his wireless mic as he walked through the photo pit, singing. He stopped in front of a few appreciative fans in the front to deliver some lines. His high notes of “hold on, hold on,” even after a two-hour show was proof that he was in shape as a vocalist.

via Journey concert Review | HM.

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