First, I’ll set the scene. The night of the show was nasty raw, but
luckily it didn’t pour. Wrapped in wool and rain gear, 10,000 fans
packed into the outdoor venue. I was hoping that the sheer numbers
would generate enough body heat to tame the cold. No, 10,000 people are
not enough to influence the forces of Mother Nature. It was still
But Journey was worth every damp minute!
Taking an already wet Journey immediately engaged a crowd that was
ready for a good time. Starting off with “Majestic,” they went straight
into “Faith in the Heartland” and kept going with “Any Way You Want It”
before taking a breather. The night was an onslaught of music, energy,
and talent. Combining their old classics with newer tunes, the setlist
was familiar but fresh and always true to Journey’s signature sound.
Journey is as much fun to watch as they are to hear. While lead
vocalist Arnel Pineda wins hands down for energy, every member of the
band looks happy to be playing these songs for the upteenth time. And
why not? The crowd was clearly joyful as they sang along, often looking
to one another as if to say “Do you remember when…?”
Neal Schon, original lead guitarist, and mastermind behind those iconic
riffs that make Journey songs so recognizable, played to the crowd,
literally letting us see how he makes the music. Performing a full
onslaught electric guitar version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the
truss in the middle of the crowd, Schon was brilliant. Jonathan Cain,
longtime member, switched between keyboards and rhythm guitar and added
harmonies and vocals as well as depth. Ross Valory, original bass
player, was understated, giving an unflappable and determined
performance all while slyly interacting with the audience. Drummer Deen
Castronovo was jamming from the very start, squeezing everything from
that drum kit and looking happy as hell.
And then there is Arnel Pineda. A powerhouse of vitality with huge
vocal range and ability, Pineda connected to the crowd immediately.
Speaking with fans, everyone knew his YouTube story and had seen his
taped performances. Based on fan reaction, he was not only accepted, he
was embraced by longtime fans. I particularly enjoyed his renditions of
massive hits “Faithfully” and “Open Arms.” I’ve never been a ballad
fan, but Pineda added a bit of twist here and there, opening the vocals
towards the blues and updating the pieces while never leaving the
original too far behind. He owned those songs.
The set list of nineteen songs, as well as a few solos, included “Stone
in Love” and “Lights,” my favorites, as well as “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
The band moved through the songs with little conversation but didn’t
seem to be in a hurry. This is remarkable seeing that by the fourth
song Pineda was on his way to being soaked, the truss was slippery, and
band members even put on jackets so they could tolerate the wind and
drizzle. These men are now official Mainers for their sheer
determination and grace through weather conditions that would leave most
of us home on the couch.
As the end of the night approached, fans were allowed up to the barrier
and piled in. One man, certainly in his forties, threw himself beside
me on the barrier in an effort to touch Pineda’s hand while he sang
right in front of us. Yes, I did get out of the way. Why do I bring
it up? Because the interaction between the gentleman straining from the
crowd and Pineda teetering on the side of the stage to make contact was
symbolic. We, the fans, bring our memories, and Journey brings their
soundtrack and their willingness to let it all come alive one more time.
Why are these guys still able to pack in thousands? Besides the fact
they are legends? Because the fans love them. That isn’t going to stop
Bucket list item #12 – See Journey perform live so close I can see the
strings on Schon’s guitar. Complete. Thanks, Guys. See you next time.
Majestic ~ Faith in the Heartland ~ Any Way You Want It ~ Ask the
Lonely ~ Only the Young ~ Never Walk Away ~ Anytime ~ Faithfully ~ The
Star-Spangled Banner ~ Stone in Love ~ Lights ~ Wheel in the Sky ~
Escape ~ La Do Da ~ Open Arms ~ Be Good to Yourself ~ Don’t Stop
Believin’ ~ Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) ~ Encore : Lovin’ Touchin’