Want to hear a hot take? How’s this: “Don’t Stop Believing” isn’t Journey’s best song.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song. I unironically love it. But I also unironically love a lot of Journey’s music. And when I saw their performance at the Giant Center on March 4 as part of their Freedom Tour 2022, I was in good company – a nearly sold-out stadium was ready to pump their fists to some classic arena rock sounds.
And they played “Don’t Stop Believing,” of course … as the third song of the night. Which cleared the way for the rest of the night to be about their other hits. Some people would even argue those other hits are their better hits.
(It’s me. I’m some people.)
Here’s a quick rundown of the highlights of Journey’s set!
“Only The Young”
Journey’s opening number was “Only The Young,” and while it doesn’t compare in fame to some of their bigger hits (while written by members of Journey, it was originally released by the band Scandal), it’s a sweeping and optimistic tune complete with squealing guitar solo in their live rendition.
And while it shares plenty of thematic DNA with “Don’t Stop Believing,” it doesn’t lean quite so hard into that song’s (admittedly awesome) melodramatic narrative.
“Stone In Love”
It was in the band’s second number that I was able to truly appreciate lead singer Arnel Pineda’s staggering vocals.
It isn’t just that he sounds uncannily similar to Journey’s former lead singer Steve Perry, though that’s certainly been noted by many over the last 15 years of Pineda singing as Journey’s frontman. It’s the fact that anyone that’s able to wail like a Journey song demands is someone worth paying attention to.
Pianist Jonathan Cain introduced this song, fittingly, as it began with a piano intro. He noted that the song’s message of keeping true to your commitments despite being far from home also applied to the service members of America’s armed forces, and after cheers from the crowd, he asked for prayers to “keep them out of harm’s way” in this uncertain time.
“Faithfully” feels like the more somber flip-side of “Don’t Stop Believing,” and is therefore better even though it doesn’t actually rock harder. Q.E.D.
“Who’s Crying Now”
I consider this the thinking man’s Journey song. Definitely more sophisticated than “Don’t Stop Believing” and every bit as catchy.
“You guys asleep out there?” asked guitarist Neal Schon, the band’s sole remaining original member from when it was founded in the Bay Area as the Golden Gate Rhythm Section. After the cheers confirmed that no, the audience was not in fact asleep, he continued to say, “We’re gonna take you to San Fransisco.”
Schon also gave a quick shout-out to Steve Perry as he did so, asking the crowd to “light this place up like a Christmas tree” in his name.
“The Way We Used To Be”
“We were missing you all,” remarked a member of the band (though who exactly it was I didn’t catch) as he spoke about Journey’s touring hiatus due to COVID-19. “Did you miss us?”
After cheers, the band went into their latest single from 2021, with the comment that “Journey fans don’t want to get used to the new norm. They want to get back to how it used to be!”
“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”
Upon announcing it was “time to get a little sexy,” Journey led the crowd in the “nah-nah-nah-nah-nah’s” of “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” to great effect. Not everyone can hit the notes that Pineda can, but it’s certainly fun to join in with the easy parts along with an entire stadium full of people.
“Wheel in the Sky”
Both “Open Arms” and “Wheel in the Sky” were led into by solo intstrumental intros, piano and guitar respectively. And they were befitting the renditions of two of Journey’s biggest hits.
I’ll admit that actually watching the keyboardist play the keys on that sweet synth intro is not nearly as good as watching the keyboardist in the music video patomiming playing air keys. The visuals of this music video are truly incomparable. That said, it certainly sounded just as great live.
“Any Way You Want It”
When the band got to “Don’t Stop Believing” so early on in the show, I wondered what they’d close the night with. What a fool I was! Of course, they ended with “Any Way You Want It,” which is truly the best song they could have picked.
If you don’t get hype from hearing “Any Way You Want It,” yes you do. I don’t believe you. This song rules. And it’s made even better with confetti cannons.
Thus ended a great night at the Giant Center! If you missed my recap of Toto’s opening set, you can click here to check it out. And don’t forget to check out the other big concerts coming to our area over the next few months:
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