Review: Journey and Other 1980s Bands Return to the Hollywood Bowl

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Journey performs live at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Friday May 16, 2014. (Dougal Brownlie/Living Out Loud LA).

Journey performs live at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Friday May 16, 2014. (Dougal Brownlie/Living Out Loud LA).

Had people gone their “Separate Ways” and forgot about music from 1980s?

The 17,000 or so fans that packed the Hollywood Bowl on Friday night had not. The L.A. crowd flocked to the legendary venue and was deafening in its support for the three headlining bands – Tower of Power, the Steve Miller Band and Journey – all of whom originated from Northern California’s Bay Area. This was a clear demonstration of the audience’s appreciation for music from the past.

Opening band Tower of Power filled the venue with American R&B that was heavy on the horn section. Larry Braggs, lead singer of the group, was animated, wearing pink pants and a black dress shirt while belting out song after song that had people on their feet moving and shaking. The band formed in Oakland in the late 1960s, and the syncopated bass and guitar lines – in conjunction with their funky soul sound and heavy horn section – are what has made them stand out over the years.

Steve Miller Band

The Steve Miller Band

“Thank you so much. Thank you L.A.,”  Braggs said, as he and Tower of Power welcomed the Steve Miller Band to the stage.

People began to settle down as night set in and Steve Miller and his band began their performance. The American rock band played in front of a starry backdrop that displayed a Pegasus on both sides of the stage. The Pegasus has been a recurring image on the band’s various album covers, including Book of Dreams and Greatest Hits 1974-78.

Steve Miller showed that he still has the touch that he did years ago, as his fingers moved up and down the fretboard of the guitar hitting each note and his voice harmonized with the instrument. By the time the sunlight was gone, Miller and his band were in full stride.

“You feeling alright,” he asked the crowd. “Everybody say, ‘Yeah.’”

When the band played their final song of the evening, “The Joker,” it caused the cheers and whistles in the venue to increase and many in the audience to sing along.

Eager fans that were in the pit right below the band began jumping up and down; large balloons were thrown into the crowd; and yellow and red lights illuminated the fans all the way at the very back of the venue who were screaming the loudest.

Throughout the course of the night, the fans got louder and more raucous after each song, and when the Steve Miller Band exited the stage, people waited, hoping for more. During the 30-minute intermission leading up to Journey’s set, fans refreshed themselves by grabbing drinks and snacks before reentering for the headlining act of the evening.

Covered in darkness, the audience waited eagerly as Journey appeared on stage highlighted in blue light. The deafening roar from the crowd showed just how much fans appreciated the band that started back in the 1970s. Journey, an American rock band originally from San Francisco, has gone through many phases, but their most successful time frame was from 1978 to 1987.

Although Steve Perry is no longer touring with the band, new lead singer Arnel Pineda opened up with “Any Way You Want It” and had the audience screaming the lyrics at the top of their voices. With this set, the successful band proved why they are still played on many rock radio stations and perform live across the country.

“Los Angeles, thank you; thank you so much,” Pineda said. “We have missed you guys.”

Pineda’s performance was magnetic and engaging and for those in the pit, who got to be close up and personal with the singer as he belted out the lyrics to “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and held the microphone out to the audience while giving high fives to those screaming in the front row. The band members all had smiles on their faces as they continued to impress with the use of fog machines, lights and the band’s harmonized synchrony.

“Take out your lights,” Pineda said at one point. “Bring out your lights on your cell phones.”

This proved to be the most iconic part of the evening, as close to 17,000 fans held up their smartphones with the flashlight mode on. Couples swayed back and forth, bathed in a blue light for 3 minutes and 19 seconds, as the band performed one of their most successful hits, “Open Arms.” The later the night got, the louder the crowd got in their support and love for the band.

The entire venue belting out Journey’s 1981 hit “Don’t Stop Believin’” was a fitting conclusion for the night. When the song ended, the band took a bow and blue lights illuminated confetti that was shot into the sky and rained down on screaming fans. The roar from the crowd could be heard from outside of the Hollywood Bowl, asserting the fact that music from the 1980s is still alive and resurgent.

Dougal Brownlie is a Contributing Writer for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Follow him on Twitter: @DougalBrownlie
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