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Journey Bangor Waterfront Pavilion
by EastChapman - New England Music News
October 08, 2012

First, I'll set the scene. The night of the show was nasty raw, but luckily it didn't pour. Wrapped in wool and rain gear, 10,000 fans packed into the outdoor venue. I was hoping that the sheer numbers would generate enough body heat to tame the cold. No, 10,000 people are not enough to influence the forces of Mother Nature. It was still miserable.

But Journey was worth every damp minute!

Taking an already wet Journey immediately engaged a crowd that was ready for a good time. Starting off with "Majestic," they went straight into "Faith in the Heartland" and kept going with "Any Way You Want It" before taking a breather. The night was an onslaught of music, energy, and talent. Combining their old classics with newer tunes, the setlist was familiar but fresh and always true to Journey's signature sound.

Journey is as much fun to watch as they are to hear. While lead vocalist Arnel Pineda wins hands down for energy, every member of the band looks happy to be playing these songs for the upteenth time. And why not? The crowd was clearly joyful as they sang along, often looking to one another as if to say "Do you remember whe...?"

Neal Schon, original lead guitarist, and mastermind behind those iconic riffs that make Journey songs so recognizable, played to the crowd, literally letting us see how he makes the music. Performing a full onslaught electric guitar version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the truss in the middle of the crowd, Schon was brilliant. Jonathan Cain, longtime member, switched between keyboards and rhythm guitar and added harmonies and vocals as well as depth. Ross Valory, original bass player, was understated, giving an unflappable and determined performance all while slyly interacting with the audience. Drummer Deen Castronovo was jamming from the very start, squeezing everything from that drum kit and looking happy as hell.

And then there is Arnel Pineda. A powerhouse of vitality with huge vocal range and ability, Pineda connected to the crowd immediately.

Speaking with fans, everyone knew his YouTube story and had seen his taped performances. Based on fan reaction, he was not only accepted, he was embraced by longtime fans. I particularly enjoyed his renditions of massive hits "Faithfully" and "Open Arms." I've never been a ballad fan, but Pineda added a bit of twist here and there, opening the vocals towards the blues and updating the pieces while never leaving the original too far behind. He owned those songs.

The set list of nineteen songs, as well as a few solos, included "Stone in Love" and "Lights," my favorites, as well as "Don't Stop Believin'."

The band moved through the songs with little conversation but didn't seem to be in a hurry. This is remarkable seeing that by the fourth song Pineda was on his way to being soaked, the truss was slippery, and band members even put on jackets so they could tolerate the wind and drizzle. These men are now official Mainers for their sheer determination and grace through weather conditions that would leave most of us home on the couch.

As the end of the night approached, fans were allowed up to the barrier and piled in. One man, certainly in his forties, threw himself beside me on the barrier in an effort to touch Pineda's hand while he sang right in front of us. Yes, I did get out of the way. Why do I bring it up? Because the interaction between the gentleman straining from the crowd and Pineda teetering on the side of the stage to make contact was symbolic. We, the fans, bring our memories, and Journey brings their soundtrack and their willingness to let it all come alive one more time. Why are these guys still able to pack in thousands? Besides the fact they are legends? Because the fans love them. That isn't going to stop anytime soon.

Bucket list item #12 - See Journey perform live so close I can see the strings on Schon's guitar. Complete. Thanks, Guys. See you next time.

Faith in the Heartland
Any Way You Want It
Ask the Lonely
Only the Young
Never Walk Away
The Star-Spangled Banner
Stone in Love
Wheel in the Sky
La Do Da
Open Arms
Be Good to Yourself
Don't Stop Believin'
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Encore : Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'

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