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............... Concert Review

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Journey ." Makes it Happen" .......Dec 29th Warfield Sanfrancisco

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..........The show was out of this world, everyone of the band members was right on cue from beat to note, at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. Neal Schon was magnificent as always, Jonathan Cain was the pure professional, steady and brilliant.as was Ross Valory . Steve Augeri hit every high note with perfect precision, and the drummer rocked the house like an animal. The crowd was wild and out of control with excitement!! What a homecoming they received. I think it sold out and if not, pretty darn near close. Every one was singing along with every song and boggeying with every rhythm. I did miss Steve Perry but Steve Augeri was still a thrilling sight to see, and contrary to what others have said, the band that spun gold out of bombastic rock ballads and big guitar pop delivered note-perfect versions of their hits. Guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain filled the hall with enough sound that you'd have thought the five-piece group brought along a bevy of extra musicians. "Stone In Love" was awash in guitar fuzz, "Open Arms" tumbled along to Cain's piano runs and "Only The Young" soared above a bed of acoustic guitar picking. Four and five-part vocal harmonies added lush textures to tunes like "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'." Broad lyrical strokes have made many of Journey's hits feel timeless.

..........The messages are simple: I'm forever yours, faithfully, be good to yourself, those summer nights are calling, send her my love. The catchy choruses drive the points home. There's something about Journey's sound that's firmly stuck in the early '80s, though. The new song "Remember Me," from the "Armageddon" soundtrack, sounded like a leaden leftover from "Raised on Radio." Other newer songs lacked memorable hooks -- or at least hooks that have been drilled into your head by endless radio play. Last night's audience responded far more enthusiastically to the familiar. "Wheel In The Sky" got people out of their seats for a different reason -- to clap, sway and sing along. "Any Way You Want It" only added to the festive spirit. .

........Though often dismissed by serious music fans, arena rockers Journey were one of the most commercially successful bands of the late '70s and early '80s, selling nearly 40 million albums. Formed by ex-Santana manager Herbie Herbert in 1973 as the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, the group originally featured ex-Santana members Neal Schon (guitar) and Gregg Rolie (vocals/keyboards) as well as San Francisco musicians George Tickner (rhythm guitarist), Ross Valory (bass) and Aynsley Dunbar (drums). Renamed Journey in a KSAN-FM radio contest, the mostly- instrumental jazz-rock group released three Columbia albums - 1975's Journey, 1976's Look Into the Future and 1977's Next -- before their lack of a commercial breakthrough prompted Herbert to change the band's focus from overblown instrumental to more traditional soft-rock pop songs. With Tickner out of the band and Dunbar replaced with drummer Steve Smith, the quartet was augmented by Herbert's new lead vocalist, Steve Perry, for 1978's Infinity. Thanks to the radio hit "Wheel in the Sky," the album became the group's first platinum seller, and Journey began filling arenas. Their 1979 follow-up, Evolution, and 1980's Departure were both huge hits, cementing the group's star status. Following the release of the 1980 double-live extravaganza Captured, Rolie quit the band and was replaced by synth expert Jonathan Cain. Featuring songwriting contributions from their newest member, Journey scored their biggest success to date with 1981's Escape, a No. 1 charting effort which sold over nine million copies and spawned three Top 10 hits: "Who's Crying Now," "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Open Arms." Their 1983 follow-up Frontiers sold six million copies and spawned two more hits: "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" and the ballad "Faithfully." After another round of arena dates, the band took time off so Perry could work on a solo project, 1983's Street Talk, a popular release. When Journey began to work on their next album, tensions surfaced as a troubled Perry, who had seized control of the group, found himself in constant disagreements with Ross Valory and Steve Smith, whom he promptly fired. After some delay, the new three-piece Journey made its recording debut with 1986's Raised on Radio, which despite its double-platinum sales was not the goldmine the band had hoped for. Wracked by internal problems, the group broke up in February 1987. Columbia released a Greatest Hits collection the following year which sold an astounding eight million copies, proving that the group retained a loyal fan base despite changes in popular music. Vocalist Steve Perry took many years off to deal with personal issues before returning to recording in 1994 with the quickly-forgotten release For the Love of Strange Medicine. Keyboardist/songwriter Jonathan Cain and guitarist Neal Schon went on to form Bad English, a successful yet short-lived power-ballad supergroup. Sensing Journey's enduring commercial power, its former members set aside personal and artistic differences to re-form the group in 1995. Their 1996 reunion album, Trial By Fire found an audience among older adults, but it did not appeal to the younger crowd Journey once reached. Another secret worth revealing is that singer Steve Perry wasn't part of last night's show. A note displayed at the T-shirt stand said that Perry was a scratch due to "physical injuries." So how did the arena rockers fare without Perry's distinctive, ultra-tenor wail? Pretty well, actually., thanks to Steve Augeri. The young vocalist looked and sounded remarkably similar to Journey's better-known power crooner. If Journey truly intends to stick around, here's hoping they'll find a way to add some rough edges to their sound and write some more melodic songs. In the meantime Journey offers no less than a fine, fun nostalgia trip.....................

By Randy Cohen

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