Journey , November 20, 2005 in Montreal

journey live For roughly two hours yesterday I felt like I was back in high school. Journey was at the apex of their popularity in the mid-eighties while I was in high school and there were rarely any dances where you did not slow dance to a Journey song. There was some slow dancing amidst the audience of 4,500 during ‘Open Arms’ and ‘Faithfully’, but for most of the evening Journey was rocking the Bell Centre. I was definitely not the only one in the mostly middle aged crowd that was having flashbacks as the lighters (an indication of that age of the crowd as they used the ‘retro’ lighters instead of cell phones to light it up during slow songs) came out on several occasions. I guess Journey (Steve Augeri on lead vocals, Neal Schon on lead guitar and vocals, Deen Castronova on drums and vocals, Jonathan Cain on keyboards, guitar, harmonica and vocals, and Ross Valory on bass) has wrongfully been categorized as a soft pop band because their biggest hits were their ballads, but last night’s show demonstrated that most of their repertoire is of a heavier sound.

Journey has been around as a band for 30 years and during that time they have only had one membership change and that was when lead singer Steve Perry left the band. Amazingly enough the band found a lead singer, Steve Augeri, who sounds exactly like Steve Perry. It is kind of scary at times. Augeri is your prototypical lead singer of a rock band. He has got the long flowing hair, the ripped jeans and is an expert at twirling that microphone stand. Augeri knows how to work the audience as he was an expert at working both sides of the stage to get the crowds there into it and he even brought out the old faithful Habs hockey shirt for the encore. To play up to the Canadian crowd, Neal Schon did a guitar version of “Oh Canada” that was really appreciated by the crowd, who all sang along. Even after 30 years the guys in that band seem to still enjoy what they are doing, especially bassist Ross Valory who is somewhat of the band clown. He had a device hooked up to his mike which would spray the audience with water every now and then and he was constantly making faces at those in the front rows. Drummer Castronova is a monster on his huge drum set; he is one of the better rock drummers I have had the opportunity to see. I was also pleasantly surprised by his good singing voice. Neal Schon is still an amazing guitarist! His solos were among the highlights of the show.

Even though Journey (How are these guys not in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame?) have not had a hit in many years their fan base is still enthusiastic, numerous and loyal. The crowd was on their feet from the opening number and throughout the entire show. These guys have been an important musical group in the lives of anyone 30 and over. Neal Schon mentioned at one point during the show that it had been around 25 years since Journey had last played in Montreal. Surely they must have missed Montreal audiences after being away from our city sooo long.

Set List:
1) Be Good To Yourself
2) Ask The Lonely
3) Only The Young
4) Faith In The Heartland
5) Oh Canada (guitar solo by Neal Schon)
6) Stone In Love
7) Wheel In The Sky
8) Chain Reaction
9) Place In Your Heart
10) Feelin’ That Way (lead vocals by Deen Castronova and Jonathan Cain)
11) Anytime (lead vocals by Jonathan Cain)
12) Voodoo Chile (Jimi Hendrix cover – lead vocals by Neal Schon)
13) Lights
14) Still They Ride (lead vocals by Deen Castronova)
15) Every Generation (lead vocals by Jonathan Cain)
16) Who’s Crying Now
17) Open Arms
18) Escape
19) Anyway You Want It
20) Faithfully
21) Don’t Stop Believing
22) Separate Ways
23) Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’

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