Journey took young fans on a two-hour trip Saturday night to where their parents may never have been.
The excursion was to that special world where rock is king and everything seems possible and 17,500 fans wave back and forth in communion with the beat. It happened suddenly, just after "Lovin,' Touchin,' Squeezin'," but it was a feeling that had been building up all through the Coliseum show.
Yes, heavy metal can evoke the same camaraderie with its pulsing, thrusting drive. But this was exuberant.
"This band hasn't been to Cleveland in a long time," said singer/frontman Steve Perry halfway through the concert. The show was repeated last night.
Journey was back after a three-year lapse. And back with a classier light show, a more sophisticated stage, more emphasis on Neal Schon's guitars and Jonathan Cain's keyboards and two sparky new talents.
So much for the talk that Journey might have reached the end of its road. Absence can make the fans grow fonder.
The stage setting was sparse but stunning - state-of-the-art - visible as much from the back as the front. No amplifiers were in sight. You didn't see the hidden trapdoors, only the silver-colored railings and the walkway behind drummer Michael Baird. Strobe lights flashed as the quintet entered, singer Perry looking like a ring master in his red cutaway over his light blue jeans.
Their first song, a bright ballad called "Only the Young," had a special touch for Cleveland. Two years ago, the band gave the first 45 of the song to the late Kenny Sykaluk, 16, at Rainbow Babies' and Children's Hospital, during a flight here for Make a Wish. That organization brought 50 cystic fibrosis patients to Saturday's concert.
Perry may just have the best voice in rock today, a full resounding tenor that can jump from octave to octave (especially notable in "Don't Stop Believin,'" the band's classic song). His voice is effortless, almost seamless. But that doesn't seem to impress him. He did a non-stop show, darting from side to side, remembering to reach out to those behind the stage, sparking up enough energy to light up Summit County for a week.
Perry just isn't a David Lee Roth sex symbol, though he stopped in astonishment at the screams, as Roth did. But then Journey is more music-oriented. Guitarist Schon, formerly of Santana, and the only original member of the 13-year-old group, was a standout on his own guitars. He not only designed them, but has developed his own guitar company.
Keyboardist Jonathan Cain's rippling piano shone as never before. His red piano suddenly moved east to the center of the stage during "Raised On Radio," the title cut from the group's current Columbia LP. Other times Cain scored with a wireless portable piano, held like an accordion.
New bassist Randy Jackson, a chunky figure in his black and white striped pants, added a needed texture to the group, as well as good riffs. The fringed epaulets on his red jacket shook and swayed as he bent back and forth like an old bluesman. He sang, too. Baird, the drummer, didn't solo like his predecessor, Steve Smith, but kept that beat throbbing.
The light show was a star in itself. Three gigantic triangles like pool ball holders with screens in their centers moved up and down and sideways. Little designs popped up on the screens and spotlights swung out from the trusses. Video screens on each side of the stage brought the show up close.
This is the band's 13th year and it looks like it's bringing its own luck.
Opening the show was a Top 40 Canadian quintet, Glass Tiger, with the No. 2 song in the country, the bouncy "Don't Forget About Me (When I'm Gone)." The band got a hearty crowd reaction, one any debuting act dreams about.
Source unknown, 1986; Supplied and transcribed by Grace H.