Journey Unlimited Brings the House Down at Vamp'd!

12/19/15

It had been at least a decade since I saw a tribute to the Bay Area AOR kings, Journey. And from what I recall, that band was pretty spot on at the old showroom at Silverton. I was definitely looking for a fix since it's been several years since I saw the real thing. And over the years, I'd seen them four times: the first fronted by the only and only Steve Perry, the last by Arnel Pineda, and the middle two by Steve Augeri, who was no slouch live on those dates.

The buzz on these guys as far as I could tell was pretty good. Certainly with the formidable six strings skills lead guitarist Blaze displayed in Bobby Blotzer's Ratt Experience (now Ratt) several months ago on the same stage. So I figured that he wouldn't have settled on just ANY frontman for this ensemble he was part of. I was to be proved correct come showtime. So far so good. 12404997_10206402667878079_184600230_o

Reaching way back into 1979 for instrumental "Majestic" as an intro was a nice move, as it set the stage for "Only the Young," a song from the Vision Quest soundtrack (1985). As "Any Way You Want It" gave way to Raised on Radio's "Be Good to Yourself," it became obvious that this quintet was a well-oiled machine. Another soundtrack tune, this time from the motion picture Two of a Kind, 1983's "Ask the Lonely," was a welcome departure (pardon the pun). By this time the band had the sizable audience eating out of the palms of their hands.

I'd seen bassist Wayne Carver perform in town before as well, so I knew he had the goods for this gig. Now to scrutinize the keyboardist, Stevie D. He launched into a keytar solo using Departure's upbeat "Line of Fire" as a base. Pretty cool, yet I'd be lying if I didn't mention that using part of it as an intro to the whole song would've been more satisfying to the die-hards who were hoping for more Rolie-era gems.

Ballad time: "Open Arms" fit the bill nicely. Visiting Perry's first solo outing by way of monster hit "Oh Sherrie," segueing into "Separate Ways" and then another instrumental solo; this time drummer Jeff "Slammaster J" Jarrett showed us he was a capable player.

No Journey tribute show would be complete without "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" nor 'Who's Crying Now," so those weren't left out. An incendiary reading of the hard-hitting "Where Were You" was followed by the tender "Send Her My Love."JU

Blaze showed us why he was worthy of his stage name as he played a short but sweet fiery solo which led into Escape's "Stone in Love."

Lead vocalist Michael Flynn introduced staple "Lights" which was melded into the deep track "Stay Awhile." By this time Flynn had done three costume changes and was ready for "Wheel in the Sky." Changing things up a bit by leaving the stage to serenade a young lady with "Faithfully" was a nice touch, and performing the obligatory "Don't Stop Believin'" with a somewhat lengthy ending brought the show to a close.

My thoughts on the show as a whole? I'd rate it an 8.5 on a 10 scale. Why? Not because there wasn't musical competence; that was displayed in spades. Pacing as far as numbers? Pretty good as well. I just took a few points off for a few "interesting" pre and post-song comments and Geoff Tate-like vocal acrobatics which, to me, took away from the authenticity of a Journey show. Also for one of Mike's outfits being more reminiscent of Rob Halford than Steve Perry. And, it may be a minor quibble, but a true "tribute band" to me goes to great lengths to have at least two to three "key members" look the part of the members that they are "re-creating". Although Wayne could pass for a Ross Valory look-alike, neither Blaze nor Mike do Perry nor Schon justice visually.

That being said, I'd highly recommend seeing these guys when and if you can. I certainly will.

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Zenon Skyy for ZRock'R Magazine- ©ZRock'R Entertainment, LLC - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

5 comments

  1. Henry Copple 14 January, 2016 at 14:33 Reply

    What a joke, the singers falsetto voice was reaching very hard and weak., the guitarist is pretty good but not so accurate and only noticeable due to his age where in L.A. he is at best an average guitarist with a long way to go., the drummer looks like he was going to need oxygen at any moment, and the over all sound was typical of an average cover band trying to imitate a famous artist.
    Try listening to them like the rest of us did without being drunk and this review would be realized as stretched just a little bit.
    Pretty pathetic

    • Ray R 14 January, 2016 at 14:37 Reply

      I thought they were still pretty good but do agree just not anything like the real band which I have seen just last year at the Hard Rock.
      You are right the singer needs to try harder.

    • Becky valentine 14 January, 2016 at 19:00 Reply

      I actually was at this show and you must have been drunk if you thought they were bad Henry. I saw this same singer and drummer with a different Journey lineup a few years ago at vamps and I have to say this lineup is MUCH better. The singer lost the wig which is a big plus. He looks so much hotter without it. The bands that have the singer wear a wig to try and look like Steve Perry from 20 years ago is just silly. He has the best Journey voice out there. And this guitar player blows away the guy they had last time. He’s young good looking and can shred. The guy from the other lineup was old ugly and definitely not as good on guitar. I actually overheard him after that show telling people that he gets mistaken for Neal Schon all the time. Maybe if Neal Schon was run over by a semi-truck….lol. I highly recommend anyone who wants to see a good journey tribute check these guys out next time they are in town. You won’t be disappointed.

  2. Manny Pinella 14 January, 2016 at 23:19 Reply

    I have to agree with Ray and some of Harrys remarks some but not as bad as he said.
    They are just OK. And I think I remember what band Becky mentioned and I liked the other version better if its the same band I think shes talking about.
    She is right about a couple of things if it was the band I’m thinking of.
    They were all older guys except I thought better. The singer looked younger too but your right I think he had a wig and the drummer wasn’t as heavy.
    I do agree the drum guy did look like he was going to pass out . LOL
    But I think he was a different guy like the other guitarist. they all were much older and even older now.
    It looked weird all these old at that show with a very talented young guitar player who they could barely keep up with.
    Now that guy belongs with really good band and not people old enough to be his father.
    At least before they looked like Journey and the other guitar player was a little better for this kind of show, at least I think so

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