At some point in the 20th year of my journey, the band that sprouted from the rhythmic compost of Santana passed through Angel City, opening for Styx. I was among the 5,000 in attendance at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that hallowed eve in 1976.
Nearly 40 years later, that show stands out in my mind as I anticipate Journey’s upcoming residency at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. According to the band’s manager John Baruck, it’s going to be an equally memorable experience. “They’re at the top of their game,” he boasts. “It’s gonna be a great stay.”
“[Founding guitarist] Neal Schon thinks The Joint residency is cool,” Baruck says. “Santana digs Vegas so that makes it work, because, in all honesty, Neal hates casinos.”
Journey is no stranger to Vegas. Schon shredded through many a sold-out Strip performance with former lead singer Steve Perry. And the first time that current vocalist Arnel Pineda wailed “Separate Ways” as a member of Journey was at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “We had just made a deal to do a Greatest Hits collection with Walmart,” Baruck says. “I booked the show in Vegas, shot a DVD—the crowd was fantastic.”
In August, I attended the Journey-Steve Miller Mandalay Bay blowout with Dan Shinder from DrumTalkTV.com. It felt good to be among my tribe of ’70s-bred vinyl geeksters, celebrating the ancient tuneage. But it’s not just the classic rock retro AARP’ers who still enjoy watching the lights go down in the city. Thanks to The Sopranos’ series finale, unwavering love from vintage FM radio and constant touring, Journey’s following is both massive and multigenerational.
Sharpie these dates on your calendar: April 29 to May 16. That’s when Vegas rockers will get their chance to hug, touch and squeeze the melodies that’ve made heads bob and hearts throb for almost four decades.
8 p.m. April 29, May 1-2, 6, 8-9, 13, 15-16, The Joint at the Hard Rock, $60 and up, AXS.com/JourneyVegas.