The reaction to ’70s arena-rock band Journey at the America’s Cup of Polo last Saturday in Leesburg can only be described as mixed. In the VIP tents, there were shrugs and looks of confusion from under feathered hats, while next to the stage, there was raucous cheering, boozing, and dancing from a teeming mass of fans who pumped their arms and screamed along to all their Journey favorites.
“There’s nothing that makes five guys on a stage happier than hearing ladies screaming,” lead singer
Steve Perry Jeff Scott Soto said. During ballads, the crowd held up cellphones, their electronic glow having years ago replaced the cigarette lighter as the concert-goer’s silent salute. People linked arms and swayed, and there was even a middle-aged couple waltzing.
But there was a pretty clear line past which the enthusiasm level dropped off swiftly. I saw an older woman, still in her matronly summer dress and Queen-like boxy hat, sitting in a folding chair and kicking her crossed leg impatiently with a sour look on her face. I can’t say for sure whether her expression was a response to the music blasting from the speakers or the young people falling over drunk in front of her.
At one point, security staff wearing shirts emblazoned with “Alcoholic Beverage Control” surrounded and interrogated one fan who had definitely had a little too much of something. They let him off the hook when a man—who looked suspiciously like his boss—arrived to escort him away.
Whether or not the whole crowd was willing or able to appreciate it, Journey was in top form. Soto, as my friend put it, looked “like he hasn’t cut his hair since his heyday.” Indeed, his perfectly coiffed, probably permed mane looked as though not a single hair had moved since the ’70s. He made at least three costume changes, from an almost demure blue, button-down shirt and jeans to a white vest (with nothing underneath) to a black top and what looked to be the quintessential rocker uniform—leather pants.
Soto and his mates played the classics—demanding audience participation on “Any Way You Want It” and dedicating “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” to the students of Virginia Tech—as well as new material, including one song that they debuted called “Winds of Freedom” about the settlers of Jamestown. It went something like this: “400 years agooo, they got on their ships to escape tyrannnnny …” You get the idea.
Though the show was a little behind schedule—by the time Journey started its set the weather had turned quite chilly for a sundress—the promise of fireworks seemed to entice most in the audience to stay through to the bitter end. And though the first lights in the sky seemed like bottle rockets and roman candles shot off by some kid backstage, they soon became pretty impressive, adding a glittering backdrop to Journey’s double encore.
You can check out bits and pieces of Journey's performance over on YouTube.