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Cherry Pop

Concert Reviews
(DTE Energy Theatre, Clarkston, MI – August 12th, 2005)

During its initial 14 years of existence (1973-1987), Journey altered its musical approach and its personnel extensively while becoming a top touring and recording band. In truth, the only constant factor was guitarist Neal Schon, a music prodigy who had been a member of Santana in 1971-1972.

Tonight, Schon and co. shine as bright as ever as the band - led by an announcers voice-over about this being the band's 30th Anniversary tour and that tonight’s set would be broken into two halves - casually take to the stage early to perform a selection of their early '70s material to the still filtering in crowd. Kicking off the first half of the set without so much as a hello, the guitars electronically light up in the bright sunshine bringing us 'People & Places,' 'Kohoutek,' 'Of A Lifetime,' 'I'm Gonna Leave You,' 'Nickel and Dime,' 'Mystery Mountain,' and 'Patiently.'

With a huge chunk taken from their debut self-titled debut album, the tracks have a sharp focus on all given instrumental sections - which is not surprising as it wasn't until 1978's Infinity album that Alien Project vocalist Steve Perry was brought into the group! "Journey's been through a lot of changes through the years," keyboardist Jonathan Cain points out, "So where were you?" he then questions as the band strike up the song of the same name - sung by drummer Deen Castronovo.

Bringing the first half to a close with some rockier, well-known songs, Journey - now with lead singer Steve Augeri back on vocals - round out with 'Feeling That Way,' 'Anytime,' and the catchy power hit 'Any Way You Want It.' "Don't go anywhere, we'll be right back," instructs Augeri to the now-standing, heartily applauding crowd. "Don't leave your seats," he further adds, with one last look over his shoulder!

Journey may well have been formed originally as a vehicle for Neal Schon's guitar pyrotechnics, but with Augeri on both guitars and lead vocals, the man brought in to replace the beloved Steve Perry is by far one of the main reasons to still get your head messed up by their music. Beginning the second set in fine rock-soaring style, Journey brings us both 'Be Good To Yourself' and 'Only The Young.' And, with the sun just beginning to dip behind the huge outdoor hill chock full of hot, sweaty, dancing fools, Augeri quickly brings the crowd up to date. "Detroit, how are you doing tonight? We're celebrating 30 years of Journey," and with that the band launch into a new track from their latest CD Generations, 'Faith In The Heartland.'

Schon - his trademark black sunglasses back on for the time being - then takes the solo spotlight as he busts out his always-anticipated, and highly-extended version of the 'Star Spangled Banner,' before 'Stone in Love,' 'Wheel in the Sky,' and 'Chain Reaction' follow suit. Then it's time for funnyman bassist Ross Valory to have a turn in the spotlight as he sings us his 1980 hit 'Walks Like a Lady' - an FM staple that climbed to #32 in the charts that year!

As the powerhaus show plows on relentlessly, new track 'Every Generation' is followed by 'Who's Crying Now,' 'Open Arms' (complete with lit candles on video screens), 'Escape,' and the dedicated-to-our-troops cut 'Out Of Harms Way,' but it's not until we get to the power ballad 'Faithfully' that the lighters come out, everyone stands up, and the venue is truly at one with each other.

'Don't Stop Believin' and finally 'Separate Ways' bring the epic near-three hour show to a close, but quickly the band return to the stage for the encore song 'Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' before they are, for once and for all, musically gone for the night.

Journey, with Schon's soaring leads supported by Cain's bright keyboards in typical arena rock arrangements, together with Castronovo's sweat-ridden work on the skins, Augeri's typically emotive vocals, and Valory's tight-knit bass playing, is still one heck of a musical force to be reckoned with today. And sure they may not be the so-called beloved 'original unit' that once was, but this new breed of Journey is as good as those early conceptions ever were and have the promise of many more years to prove just that point.

Review & Photos by Russell A. Trunk