Journey and The Steve Miller Band live up to their legacies in Scranton
Two of the biggest names in “classic rock” have come together for an arena/amphitheater tour this summer, I’m talking of course about Journey and The Steve Miller Band. Both bands have more hits, radio singles, successes or whatever you would like to call them than I can even begin to count which meant that fans would most likely be losing their voices by the time that these two were done performing Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The night began with an opening slot filled by, Tower of Power. Sadly most fans, including myself, had to spend the majority of their set listening to them from a distance as we shuffled painstakingly slowly in line up that was never ending. What seemed like something that would move rather quickly actually took the better part of a half hour as we slowly marched up a steep hill to be greeted by staff at the top who were doing their best to make sure every fan got in for the show and more importantly that no one was bringing anything in that was against venue policy. Back to Tower of Power’s set though, from what I heard it sounded pretty decent and their audio mix was very good as well. I am not overly familiar with their songs and I would wager that most fans in attendance weren’t either but their sound was true to the night and if nothing else the fans who came out early to beat the lines were treated to an enjoyable start to the evening.
Following Tower of Power was a set change that probably took about 20 minutes, after that the stage was set up The Steve Miller Band to do their thing. At first, it seemed like it would be a very underwhelming stage production of just the house lights and a large wooden horse set up behind them but as the set went on we were treated to numerous changes including a large “Space Cowboy” branded banner for a short acoustic session, a dramatic red and blue backdrop covered in patterns and even LED lights that made the stage look like outer-space. All these changes helped pace the set and of course were queued to certain songs in the set. The setlist was exactly what was to be expected, except the acoustic session that was a pleasant surprise and gave fans a good minute to catch their breathe in between songs. “Jungle Love” and “Take the Money and Run” were among the early songs to make an appearance in the set but it goes without saying that they also played “The Joker,” “Swingtown,” “Rock ‘N Me” and “Jet Airliner.”
The encore was the band’s most iconic hit “Fly Like an Eagle,” which again wasn’t too big of a surprise. What was a surprise was how the band sounded, for 70 years old Steve Miller still sounds pretty damn good and he can play the guitar just as well. His backing band helps tons though. Their talent masks any small imperfections in his vocals or instrumentals and also gives the performance a more well rounded sound. Fans were already beginning to lose their voices from singing along as The Steve Miller Band left the stage and a black curtain was dropped for the next set change, the night was only just getting started though at Montage Mountain.
It was 9:30PM when Journey took the stage, though the night was young and it would last for nearly two hours more as fans were taken on what can only be described as a true musical journey, no pun intended. As the gigantic LED’s on stage flickered to life the band marched on to stage and current lead singer, Arnel Pineda, began melting out the lyrics to “Be Good to Yourself” in top form. I know some people are hesitant when a lead singer changes during the band’s career but there should be no doubt in any Journey’s fan mind because Pineda has the talent and deserves to be on that stage singing those songs. He brings new life to them and makes them his own while still keeping them close enough to the versions that so many fell in love with over the years. I know it can be tough to step into such large shows but he has clearly embraced it and his on stage energy is infectious to fans because there was hardly a moment was standing still. In fact, his crowd interaction as a whole was on a whole another level but that only just cracks the surface.
Journey is a show band, no doubt about it. Their discography is full of “arena roc” anthems and the crowd sang along for every song in Scranton. It wasn’t like most shows were fans only sing 2-3 songs that they know, literally every song featured the crowd singing almost as loudly as Journey was performing on stage. Pineda’s performance was only one part of the show because the rest of the band were just as solid as a collective unit. Neal Schon’s guitar talent is nothing short of legendary and live he makes each song seem so effortless that was hard to believe. Their stage production was fitting to each song and the large LED’s screens were a nice touch to add visual effects to songs and further immerse the fans in the performance.
In terms of the setlist it was a total treat for any fan of Journey, from start to finish it ran as follows :
Be Good to Yourself
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Any Way You Want It
Only the Young
The Star-Spangled Banner
(John Stafford Smith cover)
Stone in Love
She’s a Mystery
La Do Da
Wheel in the Sky
Don’t Stop Believin’
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
Sight of Sound Magazine had Matt Christine Photography on seen for this show to provide the following exclusive photo gallery of Journey’s performance. As always be sure to keep following us and don’t hesitate to get out to a show on this tour run, who knows when you will be treated to another tour featuring such iconic bands. Can it really get any better for a summer show? I sure don’t think so.