Review and Photos by John Jeffrey
Darien, NY - The teaming up of Journey and the Steve Miller band resonated as the wet dream of classic rock radio DJs around the world. Whether the pairing of the two being a 'dream' is debatable, they sure got the 'wet' part right, as Tuesday night's performance at Darien Lake's PAC had the majority of the crowd soaked, as the downpour was nothing like I had witnessed at an outdoor concert in years.
Oddly enough, the beginning of the tour was mired with controversy for the Journey camp. As opposed to promoting a new album or discussing things like their stage show for the tour (which is pretty much par for the course when any group embarks upon an upcoming road trek), the topic of discussion was the possibility of Journey's classic era front man, Steve Perry, returning to the band. Current Journey vocalist, Arnel Pineda, responded to comments regarding Perry's decision to come out of a self imposed retirement from music by doing a handful of recent performances by stating, "He should come back (to Journey). His voice is still there..missed that voice." Pineda added, "He can take over too. It's his righteous place anyway..wanna see them happy together." Although Perry responded by stating, "I have no plans to return to Journey," Pineda's comments couldn't be more poorly timed, as Journey has been trying to win over their fan base with Pineda since he joined the group in 2007. Even guitarist Neal Schon has chimed in with the mutiny by stating that he hopes that the group can "reach out" to Perry "and connect once again." Further commenting that they "had amazing chemistry together" and that he loves him "with all the love and admiration you could ever have."
To the approximate 18,000 fans in attendance Tuesday night, it didn't seem they were so much concerned with the lineup of the band, but were there for the songs. And the band delivered, as the crowd was treated to a 90 minute set full of all of the Journey classics you would expect (minus the fan favorite "Who's Crying Now" which the intro was played as a teaser during keyboardist Jonathan Cain's short solo). With the band attempting to extend their legacy with their newer material recorded with Pineda, like any group with an extensive catalog of decade spanning hits, they had the daunting task of trying to incorporate the fairly unknown Pineda-era material into the set. Unfortunately, the points where the 'non-hit' and newer songs were injected into the set (mostly nearly the end) seemed poorly placed, as it seemed to kill the momentum of the show, as it was almost like watching a church congregation at a Sunday service, sitting and standing in unison. Standing when the "hits" were being played, and sitting during the lesser known and "new" songs.
No matter the crowd response, the band delivered a fine performance with Pineda giving his all and Schon, while not overplaying, proved that he can still shred on guitar with the best of them. The "Journey" is clearly not over for these guys.
When the Steve Miller Band hit the stage at 7:45, it was surprising to see fans still milling about and filling in the seats up to about the midway point of his 80 minute set. Perhaps these were the folks who decided at the last minute to buy a ticket, considering how ominous the sky had appeared for most of the day. Clearly content with being a heritage act, Steve Miller didn't have to worry about winning the crowd over with any new material, as he played all of his hits and sprinkled in a few b-sides from his classic album, "The Joker" (1974).
Special Thanks to Tracey Mancini and Ashley Ball for all of their assistance.
Review and Photos by John Jeffrey