Saturday, September 05, 2009

Journey in Atlantic City

I told one of the directors at work that I had won tickets to see Journey in Atlantic City. He said, "What? You're going on a journey?" Every time I go to a concert, he has no idea what or the band is. We went to a conference and the entertainment event was Don Henley. He sent me an email and said who is Don Henley and would I like his music?

Anyway, I won a radio contest and received two tickets to see Journey Friday night. Asked around and one of my friends was able to go with me. We wanted to leave around two, but due to work, we didn't really get going until 3:30.

We got to the Borgata in time to grab a quick bite to eat before the show. If you haven't been there before, it is a small theater, about 1,000 seats. I was happy to win the tickets, but I wasn't overly eager to go see Journey. I honestly didn't know much about them other than hearing their songs over the years. It was funny a few months ago, my now 14-year old son was telling me about his favorite song. He played it for me and it was the Journey song, Don't Stop Believing.

That is what I thought of when I thought of the band Journey - love songs - Faithfully; Don't Stop Believing; Anyway You Want It; Loving, Touching, Squeezing; Open Arms.....

The band came out on stage and my first impression was, they are old which means I am old. Weathered faces, mature bodies, holding their guitars and winking at the people in the front row, putting on their "hot rocker" gestures and expressions. Then their new lead singer came out. (I say new, but he's been with them since 2007.) He was little, Filipino, and leaping all over the stage, playing the air guitar, throwing his cordless microphone from hand to hand or flipping it up and catching it. He looked in his early 30's - a sharp contrast to the other band members. He sounded like Steve Perry. He overly emoted his facial expressions along with the lyrics and my first thought was Karoke! I felt that disconnect for almost the first half of the set. But by the end of the show, I wasn't thinking about the age of the members, their expressions or their gestures - I was immersed into the music. And, the band members seemed to warm up as well. I have to confess at the end of the night, I wasn't thinking that Noel and Jonathan were old and trying to look like younger rockers. I was actually thinking they were pretty hot and they could wink at me anytime.

But at the same time I was experiencing the disconnect with Arnel, I was struck by the expertise of the band members - Noel Schon, Deen Castronovo and Jonathan Cain. The live version of their songs allowed for much more extensive instrumentals than what a radio allows. We couldn't remember who their lead singer used to be - knew it was Steve... but couldn't think of the last name - so I googled Journey from my phone. We were shocked that Arnel, the new lead, was 41 years old. He doesn't look like he is in his 40's! But I also learned that Noel picked up the guitar for the first time when he was 5 and was professionally touring as part of Santana when he was 15. At 55, he is still incredible on the guitar and had many solos last night.

Deen, also sang many of the songs last night. Arnel cannot sing every song, not with the intensity of how he is singing the songs. (I liked it better when he was not trying as hard to sound like Steve Perry, but he is very good. Can you believe they found him on the internet by seeing some YouTube videos of some cover songs?) Deen is an fantastic drummer and it amazes me how someone can be as vigorous a drummer as he, while singing at the same time. Or, likewise, be jumping and running all over the stage, but at the same time singing without sounding like you are out of breath! Deen and Arnel got quite a workout during the set, but at least Arnel got the chance to run backstage every two or three songs. Vocals were alternated by Arnel, Deen and Jonathan. Every band member had the opportunity to perform at least one solo, generally more, to showcase their talents independently.

They played about two hours or so. Their tour schedule doesn't seem to be giving them too many nights off - they play again tonight, and two more times this week.