Journey 50th Anniversary Concert held in Eugene, Oregon

Concert Review: Journey Celebrates 50 Years with Lively Show in Eugene

Journey hardly acted their age in a robust two-hour, 20-song set celebrating 50 years at a packed Matthew Knight Arena on Monday in Eugene, OR.

The classic rockers whose music transcends generations played their hits (they have to!) a few obscure cuts and sadly, just one off their critically acclaimed Freedom released last year. Their contagious energy showed new life in this half century old band that impressed little in their live show in recent years.

Simply put, Journey sounded and performed better than I have ever experienced.

Ok, ok, the reigning Journey is not the Journey. But the current lineup of original member Neal Schon, 69, on guitar, longtime keyboardist Jonathan Cain, 73, who also sings and contributes piano, drummer and occasional singer Deen Castronovo, 58, lead singer Arnel Pineda and newcomers Jason Derlatka on keys and bassist Todd Jensen injected resonating spirit into songs that hit the airwaves a seeming lifetime ago. We all know about Pineda who joined in 2007 after Schon heard his spot-on Journey cover songs. Sure, purists miss singer Steve Perry but the ageless Pineda, now 55, sounds like Journey and now is Journey.

Confetti shower at Journey 50th anniversary concert in Eugene, OR
Journey showers the Eugene crowd with confetti

Wasting no time, the band opened with “Only The Young” closed out by a Schon guitar solo leading into “Stone In Love” and then “Don’t Stop Believing.” Three massive hits to open the night with plenty more to come. Kind of tells you the strength of their catalog. “We’re going to take you to San Francisco right now,” Schon said introducing their ballad “Lights” and the first five concluded with another biggy in “Send Her My Love” the band warmly extended and featured another Schon solo.

Driving rock returned in the title track off their smash 1981 album Escape (Journey played five off this album) and the stellar “Chain Reaction” off another smash album in 1983’s Frontiers (Journey played five off this album!).

Balancing the ballads with the rockers prevented any slog in the setlist as the band worked in “Whose Crying Now” after the previous drivers and if by now Schon didn’t impress, a masterful smooth guitar solo to end this one showed his prominence behind the axe. Casanova one-two punched behind the kit while singing lead for “Mother, Father” and finally Journey tackled Freedom playing “Let It Rain” a track Foo Fighters could have written. One of the band’s hardest.

The last half sped along with radio hit after radio hit. They had lots of fun playing “Lovin’, Touchin, Squeezin” then Cain took a moment in the spotlight rolling out a decent piano solo and whether it was the timing, the performance or both Journey wowed with “Open Arms” and “Faithfully” a song Cain said he wrote on a bus ride to New York and on this night he dedicated to our veterans. Both performances worth the price of admission. Despite his vocals cracking at the higher notes early in the concert, Pineda now fully warmed up, sang them flawlessly.

Derlatka grabbed the mic for “Girl Can’t Help It” the opening track off 1986’s Raised on Radio and if Pineda decides to go his separate ways, they have another vocal doppelganger in Derlatka. Afterwards, Schon stood alone on stage for a separate unaffiliated guitar solo that was hardly mind-blowing and went on waaaay too long for the only lull of the evening. Don’t worry, the band fully returned with four killer tracks to close out the night.

The guys worked in an extended jam for “Wheels in the Sky” affording Pineda the opportunity to walk around the arena greeting fans and Journey skipped any the traditional encore (woo-hoo!) to close out the show with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Be Good to Yourself” featuring another slick Schon solo and finally “Any Way You Want It.”

The smaller college basketball arena of less than 10,000 people served Journey well. The band may no longer sell-out large amphitheaters, but they retain a popularity with all ages allowing for an intimate mid-size venue setting without losing the feel of an electrifying crowd.

Journey 50th Anniversary Tour Setlist:

  1. Only the Young
  2. Stone In Love
  3. Don’t Stop Believing
  4. Lights
  5. Send Her My Love
  6. Escape
  7. Chain Reaction
  8. Whose Crying Now
  9. Mother, Father
  10. Let It Rain
  11. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
  12. Cain piano solo
  13. Open Arms
  14. Faithfully
  15. Girl Can’t Help It
  16. Schon guitar solo
  17. Wheels In the Sky
  18. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
  19. Be Good to Yourself
  20. Any Way You Want It

10 thoughts on “Concert Review: Journey Celebrates 50 Years with Lively Show in Eugene

  1. I thought that was a huge pile of cocaine coming from the stage in that one pick but then its confetti as you said. Glad you had a good time. Amazing how they can function at this point and I bet Pineda will bolt at some point as he’s tired of the friction between the preacher and the six stringer…
    That set list looked good as well but I would have gone to buy my merch from Track 12-14 lo…

  2. This part of the tour is an extension of a tour from last year. Some of the places now are smaller size media markets; maybe the venues are smaller. Generally they still play 15k or 20k arenas if possible, without lots of empty seats.

  3. Let It Rain maybe isn’t a big hit with people, but Schon is commited to “die on a hill” with it. Yes, i’d want to hear something else from Freedom.

  4. I saw these guys about 5 years ago with Def Lep and they were fantastic. I’m a huge fan of Lep, but since I hadn’t seen Journey before I enjoyed their show more. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. interesting. thanks for the update. I must have misunderstood Cain as what he said seemed to say he wrote it to honor our veterans. I did find it odd because it seems like a romantic song for a girl as you say. thanks!

  6. This was the worst Journey show I’ve seen. Journey is known for vocals and sing-along lyrics that have been in popular culture for decades — that’s why most people go to the shows. This concert was the Neil Schon vanity show with Neil’s screeching guitar solos in every song as well as the overextended boring vanity solo that went on and on. Compared to Toto’s warm-up set, Journey was a cacophony of noise with the guitars turned up so loud that we couldn’t hear Arnel Pineda or the lyrics on many songs. Arnel is an amazing talent but it was difficult to hear him, except on the slow ballads. Neil should realize he’s nearly 70 and the high-school gym guitar solos are annoying and distract from the vocals and lyrics that made Journey famous. If fans want screeching guitars from that era, we can go see AC/DC, Van Halen, or Def Leppard. That’s my last Journey show!

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