Saturday August 2, 2014, three legendary San Francisco Bay area bands came to play the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, CA for the final night of their summer tour. Tower of Power first took the stage at 6:45. They warmed up the crowd with great funk classics such as “Soul Vaccination”, "Don't Change Horses", “So Very Hard To Go”, and “What Is Hip?”. The band was on point and the horns sounded awesome. Lead singer and newcomer Ray Greene also brought undeniable soul with his soaring tenor voice and great showmanship. He took the crowd to church and then some.
Next up was the Steve Miller Band. The banner with their trademark Pegasus logo soon fell down as the band commenced with “Jungle Love”. From their is was hit after hit after hit with a few obscurities such as “Sugar Babe”, “Winter Time”, “Serenade”, and popular fan favorites like “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma”, “Dance, Dance, Dance”, and “Space Cowboy”. The most entertaining part of the group was vocalist Sonny Charles, constantly dancing, singing and grooving on all the tunes, even taking a front of the stage for a cover of “Ooh Poo Pah Doo”, originally by Jessie Hill. Overall, Steve Miller’s set was consistent, well executed, and fun to sing along to.
Journey then took the stage starting off with their mid-80s hit “Be Good To Yourself”, which has typically been used in the past as the closer for their set. The hits kept rolling for a good while with anthems such as “Anyway You Want It”, “Separate Ways”, “Only The Young”, and “Stone In Love”. Deen Castronovo took over lead vocals on the album track “Mother, Father” from Escape. I swear if he wasn’t the drummer, he could be the lead vocalist. The band then followed with a song from their latest album Eclipse called “She’s A Mystery”, which is a very obscure and somewhat artsy composition for Journey. “Lights” was the next tune and was immediately proceeded by a charming piano solo by keyboardist Jonathan Cain with contain small segments and samples of other popular Journey songs like “When You Love A Woman”, “Who’s Crying Now”, and “After All These Years”. This was followed by a moving performance of their popular ballad “Open Arms” followed the title track of their biggest album Escape. The next song was also from the new album. “Ritual” was a much heavy rocker but also had a few experimental elements here and there. Journey ended their set with a trio of their biggest anthems “Wheel In The Sky”, “Faithfully”, and “Don’t Stop Believin’”. They left the stage and came back for an encore of “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” to end the night once and for all.
Overall, the entire show was fun and enjoyable. It would have been cool to have the Tower of Power horns sit in with Steve Miller though. He has some songs that could work really well with the horns. Journey’s drummer Deen Castronovo was a bit of a distracting throughout the set. He reminded me of “the drummer at the wrong gig”, but he was still on point. Arnel Pineda is a great showman and truly gives it his all. His singing is top noch and is knows how to show love to the fans in the audience. Neal Schon’s guitar was a bit too loud for my taste, but hey, you can’t argue with rock and roll. All the groups were fantastic and I hope to see them again.
Review: Luis Echeverria