|Journey, 2011, the Today Show / Pam Spaulding|
This post is about a hope and dream that Journey will think about doing maybe 5 dates, in strategic locations in the U.S., that die-hard fans will be willing to travel to -- smaller, more intimate venues (I fantasize about them coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center; and how about going to The Apollo in NYC for the hell of it!?), where they can do a 2.5-3 hour single bill show. If it's just 5 dates, there's no dread about the endless, tiring road dates. They will have time to think about fresh arrangements/concepts for the concerts, and they will be well-rested and enthusiastic about traveling down memory lane to revisit songs that rarely or never saw play on the road, plus personal faves, etc.
Or, rather, MY personal faves. Since this essay is about a dream set list of deeper cuts from albums that I happen to love, I get to set the terms! There's plenty here to argue over, of course (such as leaving the pre-Perry albums off of my consideration list). I welcome comments, and it would be great to see others make their own fantasy setlists; it's all good.
Journey fans are opinionated die hards and there are definite differences as to which period in the band's history is "the best." The fact is that this band is much more than its "classic" period that most casual fans know about and love. (And for the haters? Why are you reading this? Move along.)
What isn't in question, as you sample some of the video clips, is that the band excels in the live environment. They come alive in concert when released from the constraints of the studio.
A couple of caveats about this fantasy --
1) It has to be grounded in reality. Steve Perry is not going to reunite with the band. Period. Done. If he ever turns up in a concert, it will be solo, one-night-only kind of deal, and it will be on his own terms. Or he'll remain happily retired and we'll possibly, one day hear new recorded music from him. Having lunch with The Voice is on my bucket list (I'd probably pass out if I ever did get to meet him), but there's no way a concert appearance going to happen in the context of a reunion tour -- I accept that; and
2) It is has to be plausible that a couple of the former lead vocalists could be convinced to show up at this handful of dates. I'm thinking Robert Fleischman (who's that, you might ask -- well, he wrote and performed in the band before Steve Perry, and is still going strong with his band The Sky these days), Gregg Rolie (the original Journey vocalist, now on the road with Ringo Starr's All Starr Band in 2014), and perhaps even Steve Augeri would say yes to an invitation to sing a couple of numbers from their chapters in the Journey catalog. While I'd love to see short-term frontman Jeff Scott Soto on board to handle a few of the hits that call for the considerable R&B swagger that he possesses I'm not sure things were left off in a place with the band (long story, for another day) where he'd say yes, given I set the "plausible" standard here. Oy.
So where to begin? I won't bother attempting a sequencing of the setlist. First I need to pick some cuts. My picks for the setlist will have 2 asterisks, runners-up, 1 asterisk.
Let's be counterintuitive and start from the most recent album and go backwards in the DeLorean ...
I saw the kickoff concert for this 2011 release, and they played 5 cuts from this CD, so I was quite fortunate. However, there are fantastic, very Journey-esque tunes on this guitar-heavy work that were never played in concert. Here are the ones I definitely want to hear live (two stars):
|Current Journey frontman Arnel Pineda./ Pam Spaulding|
Edge of the Moment *
Chain of Love *
Anything is Possible **
She's a Mystery *
Human Feel *
To Whom It May Concern *
For crying out loud, there was not a sane reason to leave Anything Is Possible off a 2011 set list. It was actually released and charted as a single! I heard it 3 times when I was randomly out in public, once in a grocery store, once in a Subway. I forgot the third venue. I also heard it on the radio a few times. But it was never played in concert by the band. Huh? It's pure, classic, Journey. Uplifting message, positive, it showcases Arnel's warm, rich tenor, great harmonies, and Neal's guitar just sings during the solo and outro.
Someone -- come on, boys, this is another sure-fire single that never was. It's has a great zingy, pop confection of a synth opening by Jon Cain, paired with ample classic piano keying. I would consider kicking the concert off with this one! Arnel's energy is infectious; so much fun energy!
Runner-up Human Feel was one of the songs played at the Las Vegas February 23, 2011 concert. It has a unique, fascinating syncopation, courtesy of skins master Deen Castronovo, and great pulsing bass on the part of Ross Valory. It threw a lot of concertgoers off beat as they tried to dance to it. It was hilarious. Interesting lyrics about the disconnect in this "digital ocean" of information make this one a winner live. I'd enjoy hearing this one again just to watch Deen go wild on the kit.
|Deen Castronovo / Pam Spaulding|
Never Walk Away
Like a Sunshower **
Change for the Better **
Faith in the Heartland *
After All These Years
Where Did I Lose Your Love **
What I Needed
What It Takes to Win
Turn Down the World Tonight
Almost all of these got an airing in concert as it was Arnel Pineda's debut smash with Journey. The release also featured a CD with re-records of classic Journey hits. But what holds my interest are the original recordings -- Cain and Schon definitely wooed fans with a classic sound on this CD.
Like A Sunshower didn't see the light of day in concert, and it's a pity, so that's why it makes my cut here. Beautiful, slow ballad in an unusual time signature (Pandora says twelve-eight time signature; it's the same as the classic "Lights") and sonically pleasing chord progression that takes advantage of the J-Boys harmonizing. Win.
Change for the Better is a driving rocker, with a 80 synth + crunchy rhythm guitar style. My ears tend to tire of over-reliance on synthesizers that Jonathan Cain used to create the signature sound of the band in the 80s. Some songs simply don't age well (more on that later), or head directly into Cheez-Wiz land for me. However, this one perfectly matches up to the material and Arnel and Deen's energy. Neal's standard wailing solo fits as well. It's upbeat and has there's a nice pulsing bridge.
Also played in concert during this period is one of my favorites, Where Did I Lose Your Love, that clearly (to me) is a echo/tribute to Motown, written in a minor key, and it benefits from strong piano work by Jon, and great singing guitar work by Neal, and again, the harmonies make this song rise. Want to hear this one live again.
Let's step back into the Journey Wilderness Years after the jump....