Journey – [Live]

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Sometimes a concert is more about the memories than it is the music. For the sell-out crowd in Mountain View, CA it didn’t seem to matter much who the personalities were onstage; with very few original members among them, Night Ranger, Foreigner and Journey delivered hit after hit for the enthusiastic crowd, unconcerned that some have called this tour more of a tribute show than anything else. The boomer crowd was looking to experience the classic rock songs from their youth and to share them with their friends and children. If you listened to Top 40 radio in the Seventies and Eighties, this night is what it sounded like.

The show was packed – a sold out crowd with an accompanying traffic snarl that the venue staff have never quite known how to tame. Night Ranger (led tonight by Jack Blades), warmly embraced by a fellow Bay Area crowd, quickly began their set. Mixing songs and bits of songs from the Eagles and Deep Purple, their set incorporated favorites from their own catalog including “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and drummer Kelly Keagy singing “Sister Christian.” They finished their set with an energized version of “(You Can Still) Rock in America” which brought every soul in attendance to their feet.

In celebration of the re-release of their five-times platinum album 4 which reached #1 on the Billboard album chart in 1981, Foreigner, now led by the charismatic Mick Jones, continued the AOR tour of music from the late Seventies and Eighties. Track selections leaned heavily toward hits from their heyday including “Cold As Ice,” “Double Vision,” “Feels Like the First Time,” “Head Games,” “Juke Box Hero” as well as their cloying, chart-topping ballad “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Hearing just the first bars of "IWTKWLI" brought my own recollections careening into my head as I was instantly transported to a very specific time and place, whether I wanted to be back there or not. Strangely absent were any tracks from their latest 2009 release Can’t Slow Down but, since everyone was having such a great ride, I don’t think anyone noticed.

Led by front-man Arnel Pineda, Journey – with their lone original member, guitarist Neal Schon – have always had a strong following here due in part to their Bay Area roots. The band began with a strong rendition of “Separate Ways,” powered by the exceptional drumming of Deen Castronovo. Schon was a low-key presence throughout the show, delivering surgically precise guitar parts and seemingly just enjoying the show himself. Pineda was a flurry of energy, delivering his exceptional vocals and covering the role of cheerleader while making the rounds visiting each band member on the stage. Journey also played many evocative tracks for the jubilant crowd including “Wheel in the Sky," “Open Arms,” “Faithfully,” “Send Her My Love” and the under-appreciated but one of the strongest performances of the evening, “Stone In Love.” Also on the set list was “City of Hope” and “Edge of the Moment,” new songs from their 2011 release, Eclipse, just to prove that their writing is still catchy, solid and vibrant.

In comparison to the 2008 tour at this same venue, it was clear that Pineda’s vocal ability was just as strong as ever and is a perfect fit for the role as lead singer for a band with such a recognizable sound and extensive legacy. He is obviously confident in his starring role and has started to incorporate more of his own vocal embellishments to some songs, although the added flourishes felt a wee bit forced at times. He is such a positive force for Journey that it’s hard to find any real fault, especially since he was thrust into such a demanding role.

This evening of infectious music was more than just a solid performance by some of the industry’s most seasoned and talented musicians. The show was an uplifting trip for the more than 22,000 in attendance and was a shared celebration of memories for everyone there.



The Journey/Foreigner/Night Ranger tour continues. For an updated list of shows, click here .

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