Journey In Concert
July 24, 2011
Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion, Phoenix, Arizon
On Sunday, July 24th Journey appeared on stage at the Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion in Phoenix, Arizona; along with their long time friends Foreigner and Night Ranger. We arrived an hour before showtime to find our spot on the lawn of this outdoor venue. The 102 degree temperature and slight rise in humidity enabled us to park, get in, and find a good spot rather quickly. The sellout crowd was avoiding the heat for a bit longer.
Night Ranger took to the stage 10 minutes before the advertised concert time and wasted no time awakening the audience to the desert summer night rock party. While I was not familiar with their music, it was clear most of the ticket holders were. An hour later the roadies were redesigning the stage for Foreigner, a band I am familiar with. Kelly Hansen opened with Double Vision and Head Games silhouetted against a visually mesmerizing LED screen backdrop. The now standing room only assembly was standing and singing. Cold as Ice followed and appropriately so since by now everyone is so into the music the heat no longer matters.
Most notable during Foreigner’s set was Mick Jones’ guitar, Jeff Pilson’s bass, and Tom Gimbel’s saxophone giving a most rousing rendition of Urgent. Being 60 years old not only has not impaired Jones, but clearly the “grey hairs” seated to my left, with their walking canes hanging on the fence, found him inspiring. Already the festivity is beginning to reach a crescendo, and Juke Box Hero was yet to come during the encore. It’s amazing what a tune and a cartoon can do to thrill a throng.
Around 9:15 p.m., Journey loaded the stage with Separate Ways and Ask the Lonely. Despite the lightning in the distant sky they would not be distracted. Things got a bit quiet as Jonathan Cain introduced City of Hope from their new album. It was the quiet before the storm; a surreal storm. During Edge of the Moment the winds began to pick up and dust from the north began swirling over our heads. Uncanny that during Wheel in the Sky that one of our Arizona summer monsoons rolled in. Rain drops large enough to feel like slaps in the face slowly drenched the grassy knoll. A few hundred people scattered, grabbing their stuff and running for their cars; but, the band kept playing and the fans kept singing. By the time Arnel Pineda was singing Chain of Love it was apparent everyone else was committed.
It’s at this point I must pause to share a personal point-of-view. I have lived in this city for more than 20 years. I like this town and I live here by choice. There is a lot that is not right about this place. Like other small towns that have become big cities, Phoenix and its sprawling valley has struggled to keep up. In the last couple of years it has taken some fairly big hits; politically, economically, socially, geographically, and religiously. There is always someone who is complaining or degrading Phoenicians over laws they have passed, actions of their law enforcers, the housing bust, racial tensions, over the top crime rates, wild fires beyond imagination, and spiritual shepherds fleecing their flocks. Phoenix is really bruised and beat up.
During this concert I took note of the lyrical content of the songs. While I love the talent, the beat, and the showmanship; I am particularly fascinated by the words. With the possible exception of Dirty White Boy all the songs from all three bands promoted love, community, and hope. The concert may not go down as the show of all shows, but it will be a night I will remember for many years to come. This 52 year old man stood in the rain with his arm around his bride of 32 years singing, screaming, waving his arms, and kissing. We sang, “...I’m still yours, I’m forever yours, ever yours, faithfully...”. In the midst of the thunder clap and the pounding bass drum of the incredible Deen Castronovo we connected with people around us that a few hours before we had never seen. Laughter, smiles, and blankets were shared to hover in from the brunt of the blow; while Don’t Stop Believin’ reminded we “streetlight people” to not loose hope.
In a monsoon moment I rediscovered one of the realities of living. It is not about finding safety, answers, and cures. Life is about purpose, love, and community; and those are never more real than when all is at risk, when questions go unanswered, and trust is found in total abandonment. I close with a few lines from Edge of the Moment:
“Letting go of all I knew,
My heart's racing fast,
Not sure where I'm going.
Nothing certain there's nothing to lose.
You by my side all that I know is
On the edge of a moment”