Journey Brings Eclipse Tour to Sleep Train Amphitheater
It was quite the Journey down memory lane last night at Sleep Train Amphitheater in Wheatland, CA. It was surreal at times, leaving me feeling like a Foreigner in a strange land. I felt safe the entire Journey since there was always a Night Ranger close at hand.
That was one rockin’ show out Marysville way Friday night. Journey brought their Eclipse tour along with fellow rockers Foreigner and Night Ranger. Talk about an epic four hour journey.
Leading off the night was Night Ranger with original members Kelly Keagy (drums/ vocals), Brad Gillis (lead guitar/vocals), and Jack Blades
(bass/vocals). Newest additions to the band were Joel Hoekstra (guitar/backing vocals) and Eric Levy (keyboards/backing vocals).
Playing to a less than half full crowd – or is that half empty? – Night Ranger opened with “Lay it On Me.” The fans that showed up early
thoroughly enjoyed the set. The band also performed “High Enough” a Damn Yankees song. As some of you may recall, Jack Blades formed the Damn Yankees back in 1989 with Ted Nugent and Sammy Hagar, breaking up in 1994.
In between sets I wandered to the front gates to find 100′s of fans buying last minute tickets. By the time Foreigner took the stage the amphitheater was almost filled to capacity.
As Foreigner began their set with “Double Vision” it was quite obvious that the boomers in the crowd had become quite inebriated and weren’t feeling any pain. It was kind of comical seeing people staggering about due to their double vision while listening to “Double Vision.”
Obviously absent was original band member Mick Jones. Not to worry since lead Singer and Steven Tyler look alike, Kelly Hansen commandeered the stage with a take no prisoner’s attitude. Hansen was in complete control of the audience the entire set, jumping from one side of the stage to the other.
Hansen really got the crowding going as the band plowed through their hits including, “Head Games,” “Cold as Ice,” and ending with their smash hit “Hot Blooded.”
Much to the delight of cheering fans, Hansen really kicked it into gear when he jumped out into the crowd several times during his performance. Although there were a few fans that weren’t too happy to have the spotlight shining on them while taking a hit from their medical stash.
By the time Journey jumped up on stage the amphitheater was packed. The lawn seats were full and remained so to the end of the concert, which is unusual for a four hour concert.
I couldn’t believe the balls Journey had taking the stage. It was quite a sight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen balls that big. Seriously, these beach balls were huge. The audience really loved it as they kept hitting them to each other, back on stage, up in the air – quite fun!
Journey hit the stage in a sea of laser lights and of course those huge beach balls, performing “Separate Ways.” As many true Journey fans will tell you, there is no replacing Steve Perry as lead singer. However, I think the band has found a remarkable replacement with Arnel Pineda. He’s bundle of energy, sporting colorful tattoos and man can he sing. I’d swear it was Steve Perry on stage. In fact, I would argue he sounds like the young Steve Perry, which is even better sounding than the old Steve Perry.
Original band members included Neal Schon (guitar/vocals) and Ross Valory (bass/vocals). Another new member was Deen Castronova (drums/vocals).
Pineda has lots of energy onstage and while he tried to command the crowd I don’t think he quite had the entire audience eating out of his hand. I found him paying way too much attention to the fans in the first few rows ultimately spoiling it for people farther back in the audience. Many times he would almost lay down on stage to shake hands and sing to the few people who scored good seats, only to leave out the rest of the crowd.
Even though Journey is promoting their latest album Eclipse, they only played one song from it entitled “City of Hope.” Journey played many of their hits including “Wheel in the Sky,” “Open Arms,” and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”
For their encore they brought the house down with “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Any Way You Want It.” While they played many hits they still had plenty more to play, leaving me to think they should drop one of the acts and think about touring with one band, rather than three.
I’ve had a number of people ask me who was the better band ““ Foreigner or Journey? I have to say I thought Foreigner ruled the night, but Journey really stood out due to the newest lead singer, Arnel Pineda. I have to call it a tie. If it wasn’t for Arnel and his ability to sound like the young Steve Perry, I would have given the night to Foreigner. It really was a contest between front men Kelly Hansen and Arnel Pineda.
One thing I have to respect is a band that gives a shout out to the city they are in, not one that’s miles away. Every band gave a shout out to Sacramento! Guys it’s Wheatland. Ok, I’d give you Marysville, but Sacramento? It’s not like we were in downtown Sacramento. You don’t hear bands giving a shout out to Sacramento at any Bay Area concerts! Maybe they should.
Regardless, it was a memorable night with some great music and a whole bunch of inebriated people to watch and laugh with ““ never at.
Night Ranger set-list:
Lay it On Me
Sing Me Away
High Enough/Coming of Age (Damn Yankees cover)
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me/Hotel California (the Eagles cover ““ Snippet)
(You Can Still) Rock in America
Cold as Ice
Dirty White Boy
Feel Like the First Time
I Want to Know What Love Is
Juke Box Hero
Ask the Lonely
Send Her My Love
City of Hope (Eclipse)
Only the Young
Stone in Love
Wheel in the Sky
La Do Da
Be Good to Yourself
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
Any Way You Want it
Don’t Stop Believin’