Journey Keep It Simple and Glorious at Smart Financial Centre
By: Cory Garcia, Houston Press

Bands don’t need a narrative, but a narrative helps. You can get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame without one, I guess, but giving people a reason to continue talking about you, keeping your name in the public’s mind, is not the worst idea. Journey has narrative for days, so much so that I’m not going to bother rehashing it, because if you’re reading this, there’s no way you don’t know, at least in broad strokes, the story of singer Arnel Pineda.

It’s a shame, though, that the story is often framed as “Journey needed a singer as good as Steve Perry” when it should have been “Journey needed a singer that could hang with one of the most talented bands in rock history.” Sure, 14 different people have been in Journey at one time or another, but the Schon/Valory/Smith/Cain lineup is something special, as evidenced by their first trip to Smart Financial Centre.

It was a classic-rock show for classic-rock fans, leaning more toward tight performances with healthy doses of self-indulgence instead of production magic. Yes, that’s code for “there were four different solos throughout the night, including two different guitar solos.” Why Ross Valory didn’t get a moment in the spotlight remains a mystery.

It’s always impressive when a band can open with a song other bands would close their set with, but “Separate Ways” was just the first of many songs that would have fans up on their feet and goingbonkers. “Lights,” “Faithfully” and “Any Way You Want It” all got their share of big pops, although I expected the reaction to “Don’t Stop Believing” to be a little more deafening.

Perhaps by the end of the night the crowd had feasted on too much of a good thing. Other than that second guitar solo, which went on far too long for its place in the set, the show was everything you might want if your primary interest in going to a concert was escapism. Fitting, in a way, because if you told me you think Journey is the greatest pop-rock band of all time, I don’t think I’d disagree....

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