(DTE Energy Theatre, Clarkston, MI - July 23rd, 2004)
During its initial 14 years of existence (1973-1987), Journey (named in a contest on KSAN-FM in San Francisco) altered its musical approach and its personnel extensively while becoming a top touring and recording band. In fact, the only constant factor was guitarist Neal Schon, but tonight in front of a packed outdoor crowd the boys from San Francisco tore it up once again with their latest incarnation.
Starting the 27-song night out with 'Be Good To Yourself,' 'Only The Young,' 'Star Spangled Banner' and 'Stone In Love', Journey's stage presence is beyond awe-inspiring. Steve Augeri's Perry-like vocals are spot on for each and every track, Schon's guitar work is cranked, and drummer Deen Castronovo is purely frenetic to say the least.
With a plethora of past albums and hit singles to live up to each and every time they take to the stage, Journey don't tend to talk much during their songs. Instead, they prefer to allow their instruments and musical passion to speak volumes for their cause. However, when they do utter words they are usually just the right ones: "Journey loves this town," Augeri admits to the crowd. "We love being here."
After 'Wheel In The Sky,' 'Lights,' and 'Suzanne,' 'Walks Like A Lady' - sung by the gruff vocal chords of bassist Ross Valory (the only man in the band who doesn't sound like prior lead singer Steve Perry when he sings!) - is just one of a whole slew of varying musical interludes brought to the fore. A wildly extended version of 'Chain Reaction' is followed by Jimi's 'Voodoo Chile' (sung by Schon), 'Keep On Running' (sung by Castronovo) and then new song 'Dead Or Alive' - with complete lyrics taped to the stage for Augeri's benefit.
Introducing keyboardist Jonathan Cain prior to 'Send Her My Love', Augeri (formerly of Tall Stories) comes out the end of that ballad and straight into 'Open Arms'. "Ladies and Gentlemen," he next announces, "This is my favorite Journey song ever" and proceeds to allow Castronovo to sing the old album track 'Mother, Father'. But it's the older material that leaves the crowd statuesque in as much as 'Rubicon,' 'Edge of the Blade,' 'Just The Same,' and even 'Escape' all just don't have the power to ignite them tonight.
But, and with the red, blue, and yellow spots burning down on them all, the band turned their last musical corner in style as they pumped out hit after hit after hit! "This next song is dedicated to all of you," Augeri announces to the crowd prior to 'Faithfully' which they follow with 'Don't Stop Believin',' 'Separate Ways' and then the crowd-pleasing 'Anyway You Want It'.
Encoring with the required track 'Dixie Highway' first ("As a tradition this next song speaks for itself") they bring the evening to a close with both 'Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' and 'The Party's Over' before taking one more final front stage bow and retiring for the night.
Review and Photos by Russell A. Trunk