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Journey doesn't stop believin' Print E-mail
Written by and photos by ANDY ARGYRAKIS   
Sunday, 04 December 2005
There were two milestones being celebrated at Assembly Hall on Sunday night and both had a direct Journey connection.

Journey
Entertainment
Art

Assembly Hall
Champaign, Ill.
December 4, 2005
The first was the remarkable feat that the band’s spent thirty years together, and the second - possibly even more important to Illinois - was the Chicago White Sox’ World Series victory. What did baseball have to do with one of the last nights on the arena rockers’ 2005 tour? Well, come two hours into the set when the thunder of “Don’t Stop Believin’” rippled from Ross Valory’s bass and Neal Schon’s guitar, it provided a flashback to the home team’s victory song of the season. And beyond nearly any other rock and roll show of the year, this was by far the most deafening, explosive and pleasing in that guilty pleasure sort of way moment a concertgoer could experience.

Though that type of adrenaline wasn’t matched again within the career spanning show, Journey unveiled its share of crests, while also crashing down on a few occasions in much less constructive directions. But when it came to the positive, virtually anything from the blockbuster albums “Frontiers” and “Escape” were golden. Lead singer Steve Augeri (who took Steve Perry’s spot eight years ago) sounded quite close to the shoes he’s filling and even visually resembled the famed front man to some degree. Yet he worked the venue with his own personality, encouraging everyone’s arms to sway during “Faithfully,” giving all an aerobic workout during “Any Way You Want It” and providing circular hand motions during “Wheel In the Sky.”

Such commercial crossovers are exactly what the majority of fans came to hear, though some wanted to dig deeper into the acts’ roots. Journey obliged in a handful of ways, most notably the suite of “Feeling That Way” and “Anytime,” sung by keyboardist Jonathan Cain. While not as memorable as longtime member Gregg Rolie’s original interpretation, they were each adequate and provided an instant rewind button to the 1970s. Another mildly surprising flashback came from the power ballad “Still They Ride,” during which drummer Deen Castronovo took vocal duties. He was actually a dead ringer for Perry and gave Augeri a run for his money.

Fast forwarding into the present, the guys also highlighted much of their latest “Generations” disc. In these instances, the night took a turn for the worse, as the poorly produced selections didn’t translate with anywhere near the immediacy of the aforementioned tracks Augeri’s cuts like “Faith In the Heartland” and “The Place In Your Heart” were basically the group attempting to reclaim its glory years, while Cain’s “Every Generation” reeked of cliché to the utmost degree. Even some of the most popular material seemed laborious, such as wedding anthem “Open Arms” (greeted with an unnecessarily long keyboard solo) and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ (filled with Schon’s most self-indulgent shredding of the evening).

While Journey had its share of fumbles, there was still plenty to be proud of during the strong segments, along with the band’s incredibly enduring career span. Despite membership shifts, the gang can still pack a place and can always boast 75 million album sales to its credit. But leaving the gig, one had to wonder if Steve Perry will ever be back and if the full glory of Journey can ever fully be reclaimed. The odds are slim to none, but as the eternal adage that helped lead the White Sox to victory goes, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

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