Oh my freakin’ GODS…

Got in from Journey’s show at the Schott about an hour ago…THEY FREAKIN’ ROCK! JOURNEY ROCKS! THEY ROCK!!

DAMN, they were GREAT!

I should note — I have a bad back, a partially herniated disc right around the level of the hip bone. Yet I spent the entire show on my feet (well, leaning heavily on the chair in front of me, anyway), boppin’ & swayin’ & dancin (well, okay, not dancin’…even four ibuprofen & a beer only took the edge off the pain). But I was up & adrenaline-surging from the moment the first song rang out. THAT’S how I tell great music and a great show, when I get that high and the pain just fades to the background. I’ll pay for it tomorrow, but I DON’T CARE. THIS was why I fell in love with Journey’s music, the sheer energy and rawness and…and…DAMN.

The show runs the gamut from stuff from the first three albums (with Ross & Neal not-so-subtly slamming on Rush & Kansas for ‘stealing’ their riffs) to cuts from the new album, Generations (Heartland, Generations, Self-Defense, and Out of Harm’s Way). It’s a THREE HOUR SHOW, with a 15 minute break in the middle. Noticeably missing (in hindsight, anyway) were songs from Arrival and Trial By Fire. Raised on Radio was only represented by “Be Good To Yourself” (thank GOD).

Augeri sings the huge majority of the show, with Jonathan, Deen, Neal and Ross jumping in from some songs. I’ve seen in other commentary that some fans feel Aug is getting shafted because of that — he’s NOT. It’s a THREE HOUR, INTENSE ROCK SHOW. Any singer would have major problems keeping up the pace for that, night after night. Journey using everyone to sing is born out of sheer necessity… and it adds some great variety to the show! I mean, hell, folks, even Perry switched off with Gregg Rolie back when, and Neal did “No More Lies” on the Frontiers tour, and I’ve got recordings of Jonathan doing “Turn Around Tokyo” during the Escape tour. Journey’s got a long history of using multiple singers. Get a grip!

– Jonathan’s been singing Gregg Rolie’s parts ever since the Vacation’s Over tour, when Journey first started doing the older tracks. That he’s doing those now shouldn’t be any surprise, and since Journey is making this a “history” show, yeah, there’s more of those particular songs in the set. Jonathan does a great job; he out-Rolie’s Gregg. :-), right down to the AWESOME harmonica-solo intro to Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ (Ross’s comment: “Leadbelly Cain!!”). And Aug takes over the rhythm guitar role for many of the early tracks, so he is on stage, and Aug does start in from “Feelin’ That Way” onward.

– I do have a major problem with Deen singing. Maybe it was just tonight, but when Journey rolled into “Where Were You” and “Patiently” and had DEEN sing, I felt shafted. Music was great, singer sucked. It was HORRIBLE. Deen sounded like he’d either had his front teeth busted out or a mouth full of gravel. He was slurring/lisping words, and it sounded like crap. Dammit, Journey, just put Aug on those! (side note: shafted feeling went away on the song after “Where Were You”…um…hold it…think of it in a minute…oh yeah, Feelin That Way, when Aug joined in with Jonathan…)

– “Walks Like A Lady”. Oh. My. Freakin’. God. ROSS sang that one. BEFORE anyone starts up on that, IT WAS AWESOME. It was totally unexpected, and out of left field, and it worked beautifully. They start out with this down-and-dirty blues jam, heavy on the bass, and you hear this deep voice doing some great traditional “my-woman-done-me-wrong” vocals that sound completely improvised in the best blues fashion, THEN it hits you that it’s ROSS singing, and then he just tromps right into “Walks Like A Lady”…woah. Ross has this balls-deep drowned-in-whiskey voice — there’s two approaches to blues singing, and one is the way Perry did it, rich smooth tenor, and the other is the gravelly whiskey-and-smoke-drenched-barroom sound, and that’s ROSS. Journey took the unexpected approach, not even to compete with Perry’s version, and went the second route, and turned it into a romping stomping balls-out blues. It took balls, it took guts, and it paid off.

Hey, that’s what doing music is ABOUT, taking chances, and that was the unexpected highlight of the night.

– Neal sings one song, Self Defense, which is on Generations, but it’s really from Schon/Hammer’s “Here to Stay”. On “Here to Stay”, it was done with *all* of Journey save Jonathan, and it’s the one track on that album that always felt out of place. Journey’s re-claimed it, it rocks, and it works. Neal’s not the singer that Perry was, he never claimed to be, but he does have a voice that fits certain types of material, like this.

A second-to-last note…the Schott was NOT fully used. It’s normally OSU’s basketball arena, and they’d cut it in half for the show; they only used half of the arena. It made for a more ohmygod-they’re-in-face setting. My original ticket was way back in the upper tier, far corner — that still would’ve been a good seat. As it was, my 12th row floor seat was frickin’ wonderful. I wasn’t surrounded by drunks or stoned-out-of-their-gourds idiots (unlike the last two Journey shows I’ve been to), so I was able to enjoy the whole show without getting jostled or grabbed or kicked or run over or splattered with beer. Heaven…

Last note…the show opens with a five minute video of Journey talking up the Arlen Ness motorcycle they’re raffling off to support the TJ Martel Foundation. Remember Neal & Jonathan showing up in “Biker Build Off”? THAT Arlen Ness. Anyway, Neal comes on, after Jonathan introduces him as the band’s bike-expert, and Neal’s talking about the fizzing whizbees & snickerdoodles & whingwhangs on the bike, in a lot of biker jargon (comment from the woman next to me, after we’d shrugged our shoulders at each other in confusion: “Gotta be a male thing”)…THEN Steve Augeri comes on with “I don’t know jack about bikes, but this is a cool machine!”.

Aug, man, I love you.

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