The Borgata Hotel, Atlantic City, NJ
Reviewed by Johnny Rodgers
O.K., a short list of things that are very difficult, or nearly impossible to describe with words.
1. The beauty of a perfect sunrise over a powder-white sand of a Caribbean beach.
2. A fiery night of passion with the person of your dreams.
3. The feeling that you get witnessing the birth of your own child.
4. Journey, live at The Borgata Hotel, Casino, & Spa in Atlantic City.
All right, so maybe not necessarily in that order, but you understand where Im coming from, right? It is Saturday September 27th 2003, and I am here at the amazing Event Center at The Borgata. This is my second night in a month here at this awesome theatre, and from the looks of things there will be many more ahead with the killer lineup of shows coming to the Borgata. Cheldin Barlatt & Co. are doing a great job bringing in the best of the best to the new showroom.
Journey is absolute royalty in the vast realm of the Rock and Roll church. I have been very fortunate to have seen them many times during their stellar career. They have never been anything less than brilliant in any of the times I have seen them. Yes, there have been some changes in the last decade. Some of the faces are different but in no way less talented. As a matter of fact the additions added to the already lethal talent of the band. Out in support of their latest mini CD Red 13, this is one of the last nights of the tour that also celebrates the bands 30-year career.
The boys were definitely in fine form opening up with a smoking version of my personal favorite, "Separate Ways" then into "Stone In Love" and "Wheel In The Sky". Then it was time for the brilliant Mr. Neal Schon to treat the crowd to a diverse and intense solo. In my opinion, he is one of the most brilliant guitarists to ever walk the stage. One of the greatest things about watching Neal play is the emotion on his face - you know that he is bleeding every note that he plays from his soul.
Next up was a great version of the song To Be Alive Again from the Arrival CD. Then one of the surprises of the night for many was the lead-vocal spot handed over to drummer Deen Castronovo belting out an amazing version of 'After The Fall". I had no idea Deen could sing like that. I have watched him for many years from Bad English to Hardline, and now Journey. What a surprise! He could easily handle the job if he had to cover any of the bands vast library. We would be treated again to Deens vocal prowess on Mother, Father two songs later after Steve Augeri cames out to sing Lights" and Open Arms.
I cant stress enough what a great vocalist Steve is. He has always been a mega voice in bands such as Tall Stories, and Tyketto, but since joining Journey he has just become an abs olute master, covering all of Steve Perrys material with dexterity and finesse but somehow adding his own touch of power and style, and now leaving his own touch on all of the material from the Arrival and Red 13 CDs.
It was time for another treat in the form of Jonathan Cain laying down some killer harmonica in the song Precious Times. Is there anything this man cannot do? Jonathan in my eyes was definitely a key player in Journeys moving on to mega-platinum success. His talent as keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist, but most importantly his gift of writing, is undeniable. His use of harmony and melody within the band is the catalyst for so much of the unforgettable Journey sound.
The band continued to roll through the set with versions of Feeling That Way into Anytime with all great vocal harmonies intact. Next on the list was Chain Reaction, Ask The Lonely, Don't Stop Believin, Escape, Be Good To Yourself, Anyway You Want It and the great blues guitar work of Neal Schon on Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin.
The next surprise was the band being joined onstage by percussionist Gilby Ross for a version of Santana's Black Magic Woman with Neal singing lead vocals. Steve Augeri came back out onstage to join the band on La Rasa del Sol and ending the show with a great jam version of Santanas, Everybody's Everything. The encore song was the classic Faithfully with Steve leading the crowd in song, and arm swaying. Lets not forget the rock solid foundation of veteran Ross Valory on bass, and vocals completely rounding out the dynamic Journey sound.
This was a great show to wind down the tour. After the show we were lucky enough to hang out and talk to the guys a bit before they took off. They were all very cool, and friendly adding to their talent as a fabulous band. Thank you so much Neal, Jonathan, Ross, Deen, and Steve for a great show and many, many great songs.
I would also like to thank Amanda Kagan for her help and professionalism, and Tour Manager, Aaron Dilks for being very cool, and doing a great job. Last but not least, thanks to the Borgatas Cheldin Barlatt hard work, and for being very professional helping the night go off with out any problems.
Photos courtesy of Johnny Rodgers©2003