BY: Margie Estberg and Kenny Wardell Sr.
It was a packed house last Thursday night as the multi-platinum selling Bay Area Music Band Journey rolled into the Chase Center, the nearly new, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena in the Mission Bay neighborhood in San Francisco. Returning to action after the two years of Covid lockdown, Journey had just started their first tour in all that time and returning to San Francisco was clearly special for the band and their thousands of loyal Bay Area Music fans that came out to see them.
Today’s Journey consists of guitarist Neal Schon, (age 68) (a band founder and their only constant member.) Keyboardists Jonathan Cain, (age 72) and Jason Derlatka, drummer Deen Castronovo, (age 57), and vocalist Arnel Pineda (age 54.)
Journey’s success has made them one of the best-selling bands in San Francisco Bay Area music history! Sales have resulted in twenty five gold and platinum albums, in addition to the fifteen-time platinum RIAA Diamond Certified, 1988’s Greatest Hits album. They have had nineteen Top 40 singles in the U.S. (the second most without a Billboard Hot 100 number one single behind Electric Light Orchestra with 20), six of which reached the Top 10 of the US chart and two of which reached No. 1 on other Billboard charts, and a No. 6 hit on the UK Singles Chart in “Don’t Stop Believin'”. In 2005, “Don’t Stop Believin'” reached No. 3 on iTunes downloads.
Journey has recently recorded and released their first new song in ten years, “The Way We Used To Be.”
To start the show, Toto came out to loud cheers and started their set with “Orphan,” the first single from Toto XIV. They continued with their ‘70-80’s hits leading up to “Home of the Brave,” a particularly poignant song due to the ongoing and devastating war in Ukraine, and “With a Little Help from My Friends,” which brought the fans to their feet in a heartfelt sing-a-long. The band was cohesive and in great form. Taplin had some high moments on the keyboards along with his vocals, and Lukather’s musicianship was as good as ever. They closed with “Rosanna” (a song many assumed had been written about Steve Pocaro’s girlfriend at the time, Rosanna Arquette. However, songwriter David Paich said he wrote it about other females he met over the years and simply used her name.) and “Africa” (which has had a resurgence in popularity over the years after appearing in tv shows and during Nelson Mandela’s funeral). Lukather’s and Williams’ voices held up well during the final high notes of the song. They left the stage with booming applause.
After a short intermission, Journey climbed onstage with loud cheering and thunderous applause as the crowd anxiously awaited the entrance of guitarist Neal Schon and Arnel Pineda, Journey’s incredible lead singer, who has remarkably filled the void after the loss of the seemingly irreplaceable Steve Perry, who left the band in 1998.
Journey started their set with “Only the Young,” from 1983’s “Frontiers” album, with Pineda beginning his electrifying antics as he leapt up and down from amps and risers while never missing a beat or lyric. They continued roaring on through all their hits, from decade to decade, including “Don’t Stop Believin’” (the adopted anthem for the SF Giants during their World Series wins), “Lights” (another song San Francisco claims as its own), “Suzanne” (with Derlatka’s ample lead vocals, and several other of their ballads, including “Open Arms” and “Faithfully,” which Cain dedicated to our military, as well as the band’s families, who tolerated the absences of their loved ones while on the road. Those led up to drummer Castronovo leading the crowd through the thunderous “Mother, Father.” They finished their set with the booming “Wheel in the Sky,” “Separate Ways,” “Be Good to Yourself,” and finally ending with the anthem “Any Way You Want It.”
It was nice to see the Chase Center packed again and fans able to experience music and sing along without the hassle of wearing masks (negative Covid tests or proof of vaccinations were required to get into the venue). At the end of the evening, I think Bay Area Music fans left the venue pleased due to the engaging set from Toto and the hit packed 19-song set from our Hometown heroes who seem to have stopped time in their sound and playing.
Journey Concert Setlist at Chase Center, San Francisco on March 31, 2022 | setlist.fm
All images photo credit: Kenny Wardell Sr