Sioux City | There may have been 5,000 people at Battery Park Friday night for the Journey concert, but a big screen behind the band made it seem like everyone had a fairly good seat.
Clearer than most home high-defs, it gave fans an up-close look at the amazing guitar work of Neal Schon and the 3-D drum power of Steve Smith.
While some fans may have lamented the absence of Steve Perry, lead singer Arnel Pineda hit those high notes with precision and jumped around more than choreographed members of several boy bands. Even when the lyrics weren’t clear, the intent was there.
“Separate Ways” set the tone nicely, got arms waving and tested the light designer’s ability to get what looked like hundreds of spots moving in rhythm to the music.
Though most Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees phone it in after they’ve hit the milestone, Journey (class of 2017) brought the rock to the Hard Rock and allowed fans to turn back their own inner clocks.
Schon served up several dandy guitar solos; keyboardist Jonathan Cain got his own moment in the sweat-drenched spotlight.
Pineda, though, had the “American Idol” finalist vibe that made all those decades of hits seem like own. He embraced “Stone in Love,” which, to be honest, has more than a little in common with “Don’t Stop Believin’. Naturally, the audience had to wait for that one but it sent the crowd out on a high that justified standing for the better part of two hours. “Any Way You Want It” pushed the lights into high gear, prompting Pineda to look like he was auditioning for “Rock of Ages.”
The veterans surrounding him still have those hardcore music chops and, frequently, looked like they were their lead singer’s mentors, smiling whenever he got the reaction they remembered oh so well. Schon dedicated “Lights” to Perry and offered a bit of its background (while scenes from San Francisco played behind the band).
At bars lining the street to Battery Park, plenty of Journey songs were in heavy rotation. They offered a good warm-up to the main attraction and let fans realize what they were in for. When the band hit the stage, its members were ready to meet expectations.
The night’s opener, Asia, introduced Billy Sherwood as its new lead singer, replacing the late John Wetton. The band paid tribute to their friend with a touching “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes,” one of his favorite songs.
Sherwood handled vocals well throughout the set, giving songs like “Sole Survivor” and “Don’t Cry” his own spin.
During “Don’t Cry,” Carl Palmer got an impressive drum solo. Geoff Downes followed with a spin around what seemed like a Berlin Wall of keyboards.
While “Video Killed the Radio” didn’t quite have the oomph we remember, the band was loud enough so those waiting in an oh-so-long line outside Battery Park could hear quite well.
By the time “Heat of the Moment” rolled around, the place was lot-to-lot with concertgoers waiting for the journey back in time.