Gig Report by Denys Jaime/Marjorie Jaime (Founder/Senior Staff Writer) Myglobalmind Webzine
Journey by all intent and purposes are considered one of the greatest and most successful classic rock bands that the USA has ever produced, and there’s been quite a few in that laundry list. There are just a number of bands that can transcend old songs to new songs and as part of their early success in the 80′s manage to stay relevant in today’s constant game of musical chairs. But here’s the funny thing….. most casual rock fans will name every single Journey song that you can still hear on the local rock stations today, like “Anyway You Want It”, or “Separate Ways” to name a few, but on the flip side those same fans and I’m generalizing here of course; may not be able to name you any of the new songs from the band’s last very strong records with new singer Arnel Pineda. I know I may be nitpicking but I realize that not everybody gets a chance to listen to new music like we do, but as your reading this review and reading about all the great classic cuts that all these bands play in concert, don’t forget also how hard it is to make new music that’s successful and for a band like Journey to still keep making new music this strong; to me that’s noteworthy of mentioning.
So to the concert we go myself and my lovely wife Marjorie who just happens to big a HUGE Journey and Pat Benatar fanatic two bands that she has never seen live, so this particular concert experience was a special one for her and for myself even though I am the concert veteran of the two. We we’re expecting high class premier performance from all bands as the tickets weren’t exactly at bargain price, thankfully all three bands delivered worthy praise. The event took place at the Oak Mountain Amphitheater in Pelham, AL about a two and half hour drive for our home, we left a little early to miss any sort of rush hour traffic and as it turns out we got there before the gates had open; leaving us with plenty of sight seeing for merchandise among other things. I didn’t have any plans of buying any merch but my wife being the good wife that she is surprised me with a Journey Tour t shirt she had bought me, I know I’m just that kind of a guy. Anyhow we sat around our seats which we’re right in the front row of the second section of the venue, pretty decent seats to enjoy the bands not super close but enough to experience the action closer then expected eve though judging from my crappy camera shots you think we were sitting a mile away….now I know why I let others do the professional photography.
As the security people gather all around and people started packing in, Loverboy came on the stage and burst right into “Queen of the Broken Hearts”, I have to preface that while I’m not the biggest fan of theirs, lead singer Mike Reno was terrific and while the set was short they blasted on a few numbers that sounded tight and what you come to expect from a Melodic Rock band. My personal favorite had to be “Turn Me Loose’ with the classic keyboard intro and prime riff, the whole song sounded perfect and Reno smashed the vocals live with precision and accuracy. Another song notable was the crowd favorite “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” which sported some of the older ladies fans of the band all in a jiff over the tune. All in all it wasn’t a bad set as they pass the torch on for Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo closing things down with everybody’s favorite weekend tune “Working for the Weekend”.
The Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo review was added by Marjorie…..enjoy.
I started listening to rock as a child. Specifically, classic rock, southern rock, oldies, some hard rock… pretty much everything. That taste has carried on into adulthood. Some of my favorite bands are Journey, The Beatles, Heart, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, and Pat Benatar. As a singer, I love anything that challenges me vocally; all of these groups do that and more.
So, I have to say, when Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo took the stage, I was ecstatic. Here I was, seeing one of my all time favorite singers live! I don’t think words can even describe the feeling. I’m pretty sure Denys got a little banged up by my jumping around. I was already hoarse from screaming and singing along with Loverboy, but thankfully my voice held out until the end of the concert. The set started out with All Fired Up, which is a perfect song to begin with, right? Well, it definitely got the crowd going that night. Pat and Neil moved seamlessly into Invincible and seriously pounded out the song’s message. They continued the show with Promises in the Dark, staying true to the recorded version by starting slow and then upping the tempo and the power right after the first chorus. Then Pat and Neil pulled up some stools and sang We Belong. Neil did the harmony to Pat’s melody and the result was exquisite. This is such an incredible song and it was even better live. You Better Run followed, which as Pat pointed out, was the second video shown on MTV back when the channel first started up in 1981. That makes Neil Giraldo the first guitarist aired on MTV, too, by the way.
Hit Me with Your Best Shot was next and it was incredible. It’s classic Pat Benatar, what’s not to love? And then, an amazing mash-up of Heartbreaker and Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire — wow. I have to say, the combination took me by surprise and then won me over completely. The way Neil segued from Heartbreaker’s recognizable riff into Cash’s equally well-known chorus was smoother than silk. These songs are so different and that transition really showed just how talented Neil is. Finally, they moved on to Love is a Battlefield to finish out the set. But then, after a tremendous amount of applause, they came out and played an encore for us.
The encore started out with Let’s Stay Together and ended with the slightly more traditional version of Heartbreaker. The entire time they played, their chemistry was infectious. They cracked jokes, told stories, and described what their songs meant to them. I don’t know if I’ve seen a couple that has had that kind of presence on stage, ever. Of course, 30 years of marriage and 32 years of playing together has that effect, I imagine. I don’t know if I ever fully understood some of the meaning behind the songs until I saw them performed live. Pat Benatar has always sung about issues that matter, from standing up and taking a stand with Invincible to advocating against child abuse in Hell is for Children.
Music has always been an important aspect of my life; it has served as an escape, an empowerment, and an outlet. Pat’s music has served these purposes and more for all of her fans and will continue to do so for years to come.From a huge fan, I want to send a huge thanks to Pat, Neil, Chris Ralles, and Mick Mahan for an amazing performance and the fulfillment of a dream on August 27, 2012. Seriously, y’all are great.
The build up had been phenomenal all leading up to the one of the main reasons why I decided to get tickets and that was of course Journey. I had a sneak peek and idea of the setlist they we’re going to perform from checking at other dates on tour, but I was actually a little let down with the overall content of their set. Now don’t get me wrong all the guys sounded tremendous, and as Arnel jumped on stage with his over joyful and youthfulness exuberance, he energized the crowd as he lead the people into the fan favorite tune “Any Way You Want It”, not my personal favorite cut simply because after a song gets so overplayed on radio through the years it kinda of spoils the fun and takes a little of the magic out of it. The band seemed to be in greatest hits mode as they laid out a more fan favorite set which any fan of mainstream classic rock would know by heart and that includes more noticeable cuts like “Ask The Lonely”, “Only The Young” and “Who’s Crying Now” as Neal melts the hearts of Melodic Rock faithful with an improvise guitar solo at the end of the song.
All these songs we’re done very well by Arnel Pineda and Neal Schon as usual sounding extremely precise on the strings despite some off re-verb feedback from his guitar at the beginning of the set. My personal favorite Journey song in “Wheel in the Sky” with that classic opening kept the ball rolling and even got my horrible vocals a chance to sing out loud with the crowd. Thank god no one was listening to me or they would of laughed in my face. A couple of the lesser known songs like “Escaped”, “La Do Da” from the Captured record made an appearance. I was hoping the band played some more obscure songs from the “Frontiers” era like “Chain Reaction” but no such luck. The ending was typical Journey as they closed shop with the always strong and more rocking tune of “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and the encore in “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin” which had many fans squeezing each other after a fun and enjoyable night of boozing and partying. I have to give a moment and give props to Jonathan Cain for a nice piano solo and for everything he does for the band, very inspired as every die hard Journey fan knows the guy has been an intricate member in the bands songwriting over the years; something that should not go unrecognized especially myself since I followed his career when both him and Schon joined Bad English in the 90′s. And a last final kudos goes to drummer Deen Castronovo who’s double bass and syncopated hi-hat patterns are a pleasure to listen to when the harder Journey songs take shape.
I had to say that overall the performance by all bands was very strong and regardless of the bias I have towards any particular era of Journey, they stuck to their guns and pleased the regular fan. I felt however that they could of played new songs off their recent records with Arnel as it turns out they didn’t play not even one? I was little shocked at that but what are you going to do, is one of those things that bands know when they hit certain cities what people expect and how to read crowds. That was my only beef was the typical set list, but other then that all the guys sounded tight as knife, and Schon is amazing live as the guy simply has a tone that it’s so patented that makes the band just glide, and Pineda is superb live and no he’s not Steve Perry and he may not interact with the fans as much, but as the main front man from Journey he does all the classic songs justice and that to me is what counts. I guess if I had to word it into one word I use “expected’ but also “gratifying”. A nice compilation of the songs that you know by heart, by a mix of artists that are extremely professional and tactical. Great job from an all around fun night of rocking and jiving on muggy hot down south summer night. Here’s a toast to many more nights like these and as more of an intimate and especial night for me and my wife, it was definitely worth the price of admission.
Credit for the videos goes to the YouTube user “edgeofthewing” who had great seats, way better then ours. Enjoy!!!