With just a few days to go before being belatedly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Journey stopped by the iWireless Center to crank out around 100 minutes of hits, while also dusting out a few crevices from its nearly 90 million album selling catalogue. These days, the San Francisco sons are resembling their classic line-up more than ever before thanks to the 2016 return of drummer Steve Smith (who last toured with the band in 1983), alongside co-founders Neal Schon (guitar) and Ross Valory (bass), plus longtime keyboardist Jonathan Cain and decade-long lead singer Arnel Pineda, all of whom sounded as close as humanly possible to their heyday.
In between other favorites such as “Stone In Love,” “Anyway You Want It,” “Lights” (dedicated to opening act Asia’s recently departed original singer John Wetton) and “Open Arms,” Schon cranked out some psychedelically-charged solos, Cain turned in an instrumental ballads medley, while Smith demonstrated what a remarkable asset he is in Journey thanks to his status as one of the world’s most revered jazz drummers.
Then again, Journey’s never really gone out of style when it comes to the classic rock crowd, and with so many recent cultural references (“Glee,” “Rock Of Ages,” “The Sopranos,” numerous sporting events), several generations populated the arena. No matter lifers or newcomers, everyone got right into singing along as the group pounded out “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Be Good To Yourself” and “Ask The Lonely” without so much as a second’s pause between them as album cover images from “Frontiers” and “Raised On Radio” flashed across the jumbotrons.
In between other favorites such as “Stone In Love,” “Anyway You Want It,” “Lights” (dedicated to opening act Asia’s recently departed original singer John Wetton) and “Open Arms,” Schon cranked out some psychedelically-charged solos, Cain turned in an instrumental ballads medley, while Smith demonstrated what a remarkable asset he is in Journey thanks to his status as one of the world’s most revered jazz drummers. With machine gun accuracy, he even added several fills and flourishes into a fairly straightforward song like “Who’s Crying Now,” ensuring no two versions on this trek will ever be identical.
Journey also gave die-hards a couple less regularly performed cuts, including 1983’s charging “Chain Reaction” and 1978’s jam “La Do Da,” which weren’t as readily familiar to the masses, but nonetheless earned their slots in the set list. Other than those, it was pretty much business as usual with “Wheel In The Sky” getting everyone back to their feet and the troops salute “Faithfully” coaxing out pretty much every cellphone light (and the occasional lighter).
Prior to a rock n’ blues encore (“Escape,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’), Journey actually reached its apex with the main portion’s confetti-adorned closer “Don’t Stop Believin.’” And as exceptional as the current cast sounded recreating that memory, it’s on those three words that the music world hangs while Steve Perry considers the extent of his HOF involvement and all those praying he’ll sing prepare to pay absolutely anything to roll the dice just one more time.
Click here for more Journey photos from the iWireless Center.
For additional information on Journey, visit JourneyMusic.com.