Don’t Stop Believin’ in Rock in America

A Tulsa Today Special Review

Monsters of 80’s rock rolled into the BOK Center Wednesday night to a crowd that ranged from 6 – 60 years old.

Journey and Night Ranger, two heavy weight acts known for hard rocking anthems as well as amazing power ballads set the stage on fire with blistering sets that had eyes widened and jaws dropped.

Night Ranger opened up the night with a hard-edged offering that could only be described as amazing.

From the opening song “This Boy Needs to Rock,” it was clear that this veteran band has not lost a step in its 25 plus years.
They put together a superb live show that included all the Night Ranger hits and a few cool cover tunes thrown in for good measure.

During the break of “This Boy” they launched into the Deep Purple hit “Highway Star” which erupted fans.

Lead Singer/Bassist Jack Blades was as rowdy as ever and roamed the stage with swagger and attitude, taking the time to speak to the crowd and to have fun with his band mates.

Lead Guitarist Brad Gillis tore up the stage with amazing licks and solos that seemed to come out of nowhere.

Drummer/Singer Kelley Keagey shined on his signature songs “Sister Christian” and “Sentimental Street,”  taking time away from the drum kit to walk around and interact with the audience.

These are guys that love what they do and have a great time doing it.

Blades spoke to the less than capacity crowd saying, “Our friends at KMOD asked if we were going to do any Damn Yankees songs tonight.

So, for them, here is a Damn Yankees song!”

This led into “Coming of Age” a huge hit in the early 90’s off the self-titled album featuring guitar legend Ted Nugent.

Blades also added, “Ted told me to say “Hi” to all the hunters here in Oklahoma!”

Another stand out of NR was after the song “Secret of My Success.”

The band stated that “every band worth its salt has a “Na, Na” song–which led into several songs that included the “Na, Na’s”  including a Bryan Adams staple and what Blades mentioned was one of the best, “Hey Jude.”

Finishing their set with “(You Can Still) Rock in America,” Blades again had the audience in a frenzy with his movements and shouts of, “Let the world know that we still rock in America!”

After a short intermission, the lights went out and silhouettes came onto the stage showing that Journey had indeed arrived and were ready to take their place and keep the party going.

Neal Schon started into a solo that seemed a little odd to start the show with but was met with great reaction.

That gave way to the now infamous synth riff of “Separate Ways (World’s Apart)”  emerging from behind Jonathan Cain’s keyboard/piano set up as he strutted out with new Lead Singer Arnel Pineda, with Cain stating, “The thrilla’ from Manila!”

From the first note, he sounded very similar to former singer Steve Perry.

This kid has some serious energy and put everything he had into this show.

Like a pinball, he shot all over the stage, leaping and crouching and playing to the crowd like he had been doing it for many, many years.

This reviewer has seen the classic Journey line up before, once in 1982 and again in 1987.

Honestly, at times, this current lineup had me asking, “Steve who?”

All of the Journey hits that have now become classics where done with a new passion and energy thanks to Pineda.

Along with the old stuff, they also did new tunes from the multi-platinum selling disc “Revelation” that had a classic feel with a new edge to them.

Quintessential favorites “Open Arms” and “Faithfully” had those in attendance on their feet singing along.

It was very cool to hear the voices even over the music at times.

The band was recently honored for having the “Most Downloaded Song,” which is their infamous tune, Don’t Stop Believin’"

Congrats boys, well deserved and hard earned!

Without a doubt, this is a band that is still in its prime.

They put on a heavy show that takes you on roller coaster ride from hard driving rock to the now legendary power ballad made famous by bands like Journey, REO Speedwagon and Styx.

As I was heading out of the arena, I overheard one show-goer say, “This was the show that Aerosmith should have done.”

True, it was a great concert that pulled no punches and never went over the top trying to reach for past greatness.

These two bands are very comfortable in their skin.

After several years and albums, this show proves why they are still forces in the music industry.

About the writer:
Ernie Osborn is a California transplant that has been around the music business much of his life. He has been in bands and currently plays guitar/sings when called upon to do so.