Friday, October 11, 2002

Steve Augeri, the new lead singer for Journey, rocked Neil Blaisdell Center last night. Journey will perform a second Blaisdell show at 7:30 tonight. The band will also perform at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Journey marks triumphant
return to Hawaii with
high-energy show

By Tim Ryan

It's been 16 years since Journey performed in Honolulu, but the band returned to the Blaisdell Center Arena last night with no luster lost, diminished energy or relying on history.

"The journey continues," declared new lead singer Steve Augeri, and it was no overstatement.

Opening with "State of Grace" from their about-to-be-released album "Red 13" -- Journey's 13th -- Augeri and original Journey guitarist Neil Schon slid fluidly into the classic "Separate Ways," which had the more than 6,000 people attending, from post 50-year-olds to preteens, on their feet and clapping.

Augeri led the charge throughout the night, sending into the memory pile any doubts that he can't replace former Journey lead singer Steve Perry.

The high-energy, two-hour, 20-minute, 22-song set last night was made up mostly of classic Journey hits -- "Only the Young," "Don't Stop Believing," "Stone in Love," "I'll Be Alright" and the two encore tunes, "Anyway You Want It" and Journey's signature song, "Lovin', Touchin'."

A third song was Schon's rendition of Jimi Hendrix's heavy-metal guitar playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," which brought the audience to its feet .

"Only the Young" seemed an anthem to old and young audience members who stood and danced and sang in sync to a smiling Augeri and Schon. Augeri handled "I'll Be Alright," one of Journey's biggest hits, perfectly with its plaintive plea of self-convincing by a lover who has been left.

"I'll be all right," Augeri pleads in the song, "I keep telling myself."

The concert at times seemed more a reunion of old friends, though some band members like Augeri are new. The band also includes Jonathan Cain, keyboards; Ross Valory, bass; and Deen Castronovo, drums.

Journey has always been fan-friendly, and last night's concert wasn't any different. Fans were allowed to gather at the stage to touch Augeri or Schon's hands or rub their shoes, as a few did. Stage security was even taking pictures of fans in front of the performers.

At one point, Schon knelt down so he could be in the same picture with a couple posing stage front.

Journey did three songs from the new album, including "Liberty," inspired by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Transitions between songs were flawless, as was the transition from "Only the Young" to "Lights" when Augeri asked the audience to "take a trip with me to the bay."

Cain's keyboard solo lead into "Open Arms," followed by "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime." He also played "I'll Be Alright Without You" -- a sort of ultimate breakup song -- perfectly.

Augeri, to his credit, thanked the audience for their aloha in attending but also "for accepting a couple of us new guys in such a great band with such incredible music."

Attending last night's concert were singers Nancy Sinatra and Tiffany and the Tubes' bass player, Kakuno.

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