Tuesday July 10, shortly past 9 p.m., a buzzing crowd at DTE Music Theater anxiously awaited the arrival of 80″s rock superstars, Journey.
Bassist Ross Valory and new drummer Deen Castronovo (formerly of Bad English) walked onstage, quickly placing themselves in their assigned positions. Next, guitar virtuoso Neil Schon and piano player Jonathan Cain walked on to thunderous applause of the audience. Finally a fifth, spindly figure came into view, smiling and waving at the audience. For even the most die-hard Journey fans, this was the first glimpse at new lead singer Steve Augeri. All eyes were focused on him, as former front man Steve Perry was always considered a unique and irreplaceable vocalist.
The band wasted little time in getting comfortable before ripping through a version of “Only The Young.” From the moment Steve Augeri opened his mouth, the audience fell in love with his voice. Not only was he vibrant and excited to be on-stage, but he also sounded nearly identical to the legendary Perry. Filled almost to capacity, the crowd was constantly enthusiastic for the new front man.
Several songs into the set, Neil Schon began the sliding riff intro to “Lights.” Augeri warned the audience that although Journey loved Detroit, they were now going to “the City by the Bay.” With thunderous applause and immediate enthusiasm, the audience embraced the band for one of the highlights of the evening. “Lights” was played superbly, similar to the early-80″s studio version, but with continued interest and passion from each band member.
Steve Augeri kept Journey”s momentum going, with constant banter with the audience, taunting of ladies in the front row and dancing and jumping all over the stage. After playing a few softer songs from their 2001 album Arrival through which many in the crowd chose to take a seat, the band came back full-force with the fan-favorite “Don”t Stop Believin.”” Augeri smiled as he sang a line from the verse: “Just a small-town boy/Born and raised in South Detroit/He took the midnight train going anywhere.” Augeri then pointed at Neil Schon, a South Detroit native, who ripped through a furious rendition of the repeating intro solo, now famous for most 80s hard-rock fans.
The rockin” “Don”t Stop Believin” was followed by Journey”s famous ballad “Faithfully,” well led by Cain on the grand piano. The set-list was largely comprised of songs off Journey”s 1988 Greatest Hits release, with the addition of a few early tracks (1978″s “Feeling That Way” and “Wheel in the Sky”) and newer songs off Arrival. Missing were tracks from 1996″s Trial By Fire, including the Grammy-winning “When You Love a Woman.”
Overall the band played for just under two hours, although it was apparent the show could have gone on all night. The band seemed vibrant and full of energy throughout the night, and definitely gave Journey fans both young and old a great show. If nothing else, they proved that Journey lives on even with the departure of Steve Perry.