“Is everybody HAPPY?”
Yes, Ross Valory, bass player from the classic rock band Journey, I think every one of the 12,000+ people that you are standing in front of are happy. Happy that after 42 years together, one of America’s greatest rock bands is still going strong. Touring the US on another of their “San Francisco-fest” tour packages (this time around with The Doobie Brothers), the ageless quintet Journey put on another seemingly effortless show at Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood.
When you have achieved the level of success and have the back catalog that Journey has, you don’t need a new album to build a tour around, you can just tour. Build it and they will come, to quote a phrase. The set list included almost every song off of their Greatest Hits release, an album that has achieved platinum status 15 times over. “Separate Ways (World’s Apart),” “Be Good To Yourself” and “Only The Young” kicked off the night off, sparking many in the crowd to sing along.
Now in his ninth year as lead singer, Arnel Pineda sounded fantastic. He’s added some of his own personality into more well known tracks like “Faithfully” and “Open Arms,” and effortlessly hit the soaring, ethereal vocal flourish during Neil Schon’s guitar break in “Wheel In The Sky.” The guy is just a phenomenal singer.
This tour marks also the return of long-time drummer Steve Smith, who was behind the kit during the band’s most successful period back in the 80s. The novelty of his return must still be fresh in his bandmate’s minds. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain snuck out on stage during Smith’s solo to snap a few pictures.
Despite the popularity of the band’s ballads, they haven’t forgotten that they are a rock band at heart. Led by guitarist and founder Neil Schon, the band steamrolled their way through more rocking tracks like “Line of Fire,” “Any Way You Want It” and the rollicking “La Do Da,” with Schon’s soloing all over it. The bluesy “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” ended the night, with the entire crowd, hands in air, singing along to the “Naah nah na naaah nah na” section at the end.
If you’re a fan of this band and have never seen them perform live before, my only question would be “why not?” Live rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t get much better than this.