On July 8, 2016, I went to see Journey in concert, along with Dave Mason and the Doobie Brothers. It was a birthday present for my grandma, so obviously she accompanied me. It was held at Aaron’s Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta; the place was packed, so lines were super long and it was unbearably hot by the time everyone showed up. But even so, the crowds were organized and well-maintained. The Lakewood staff is always good about that, no matter the audience’s size. I’ve been to the venue many times over the years and I’m always impressed by the friendliness and professionalism they always display.
So we grabbed some drinks and sat down. Thankfully the staff had the huge overhead fans going, so the heat was bearable. Not so many people were there in the beginning, but it was hilarious to see the beginnings of a huge crowd of drunk 55-and-overs jamming to the songs of their younger years. Dave Mason went first, and I was genuinely impressed at his level of musicianship. He wasn’t a big showman, there weren’t a bunch of crazy light effects or sound distortion. He just had himself and his band, and they played. Especially because of his age, how long he’s been in the music industry, I was amazed at the quality of both his instrumentals and his voice. He had a rich psychedelic sound that entranced me and also made me a little sleepy, to be honest.
Next was the Doobie Brothers, a classic American rock band from the 1970s. They were much more of showmen than Dave Mason: they were calling out to the crowd, had light effects, and really turned up the energy of the whole thing. There was a multitude of guitar solos, screaming vocals, and an amazing set of saxophone solos by guest Mark Russo of Mark Russo and the Classy Cats. As they played more and more people migrated in and got drunker and drunker. It was quite a sight. My favorite had to be Grandma Aesthetic, as I deemed her: a woman, at least 60 years old, wearing a flower crown as white as her hair. There was a multitude of Coachella-esque costumes, of people young and old. I had just as much fun people-watching as I did listening to the music.
Finally, around 9 P.M., it was time for the main event: Journey. They came out in an incredible flash of lights after a one-minute intro soundtrack. Their new singer, Arnel Pineda, was an amazing front man. He had incredible stage presence, a jumping-bean-esque energy, not to mention unbeatable vocals. Every song was a party; high energy, shredding guitar solos, and every once in a while, a pounding drum solo. I wasn’t really a Journey fan — the basic extent of my knowledge was “Don’t Stop Believing’” — but I definitely left as one. Regardless of whether I knew the song or not, I found myself dancing along and having a great time. Even if the two women next to me were incredibly drunk and annoying, I had a blast. With the incredible instrumentals, killer vocals, light show, and even some classic, cheesy eighties music video effects on the big screens around the theater, it was one of the most incredible shows I’ve attended. Journey has been putting on amazing shows for 40 years, and even despite the declining health of their original lead singer, they continue to lead crowds across the globe to a night of bright lights and timeless music.
Make sure you pick up Journey’s latest album “Eclipse” now!