Columbus, OH, Germain Amphitheater, September 10, 2006

 

Written and photos by: Jason Perlman

 

Sometimes, a journey for a band can take roads no one can foresee. And for the band Journey, the roads have been unforeseen and mostly uncharted but the destination has always been back to the songs that made the band a household name, both beloved and berated often by the same people.

 

Founded from a pair of musicians from Carlos Santana's band, guitarist Neil Schon and Gregg Rolie formed a band that took both the best of quality musicianship and a popular sound and mixed them together to form a band that got Top 40 airplay but also allowed for critical success as the musicians were well-respected and high quality.

 

It was 1975 that marked the real change for Journey, as Steve Perry joined the band as his high-pitched, operatic voice proved to be a perfect mix for the jazz-style music behind it and the soulful rock became a near immediate success.

 

Now, 30 years later and 75 million records later, Journey continues to tour, but this time Jeff Scott Soto took the lead microphone as the band plays the fan favorites as a co-headliner with Def Leppard.

 

Opening the show with the Star Spangled Banner played on guitar by Schon, Journey took the stage to about 8,000 fans either holding an American flag or sporting a tour shirt from the 1980s.

 

Some would say that the arrival of Steve Perry was the landmark move to bring Journey to the forefront of rock, but it was the arrival of lesser-known Jonathan Cain that helped bring the band to be a Top 10 band. His arrival led to the highest selling records Escape and Frontiers. It is songs from this record that most people associate with Journey and their live show was filled with songs either written or influenced by Cain.

 

When Perry fell ill, Journey replaced him with Steve Augeri, a near Perry clone, and as long as the songs people loved were played, it didn't seem to matter to most who sang them. And that proved correct, as Soto's performance was less that outstanding, yet the songs helped carry Soto through the set as if he has been with the band for years.

The band as a whole seems to love their time on stage and performs each song as if they are playing it back in the small club days. Smiles fill the faces of the crew as they blaze through their set and still seem surprised and overjoyed with the feedback the fans are giving them.

 

What Soto did bring to the show was an edgier rock and roll presence that goes back to 80s metal, as his moves were straight out of cheese rock, but it seemed to be great motivation for the rest of the band to follow suit. For the first time in a while, Journey acted like kids on stage and it seemed as if the band found the enjoyment again. Whether it was Soto who helped bring that out, or a newfound love of their music, either way it was a great performance for Journey fans to witness.

 

Although Journey was supporting its new record Generations, it was the oldies that most of the crowd wanted to hear. And when drummer Deen Castronovo took the vocals, the crowd seemed to fill again with new excitement and took to his vocals just as well, if not more so, as when Soto was singing. But then again, Castronovo got to sing fan faves such as Faithfully and Open Arms.

This was a show dedicated mainly to those who have been Journey fans since the 80s, and the crowd reflected that. The women who were single and dating and listening to Journey after a successful conquest from a bar that night, attended the show en masse, but now they have diamond rings on their finger, kids at home and a job to get to in the morning. But sometimes going back and feeling young again is not such a bad thing. Moms were dressed like kids with tight, revealing outfits and it was easy to see their confidence rise as men gave stares just like they received 20 years ago.

Whether a huge Journey fan or one that uses the band as a butt of a joke, one item remains constant, and that is the band can play quality music. And that quality music has what kept the band relevant and popular decades later. Add that with the youthful exuberance of Soto and together the result is nothing short of a quality live show enjoyed both by long-time fans and those just getting to their first Journey concert.

Deen Castronovo
Jeff Scott Soto
Neil Schon
Ross Valory
Jonathan Cain
Neil Schon