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Schon’s New Live Recording Is A Largely Successful New Offering

This Friday, Journey founding member and guitarist Neal Schon will release his new live recording, Journey Through Time through Frontiers Music s.r.l.  The recording features a performance by Schon and fellow musicians Greg Rolie (keyboards, vocals), Marco Mendoza (bass), Dean Castronovo (drums) and John Varn (keyboards, vocals) captured Feb. 9, 2018 at The Independent in San Francisco, CA.  The concert was held as a fundraising event to benefit for people impacted by fires in the area in October 2017, according to information provided about the recording.  Planned for release on separate 3CD/DVD and Blu-ray platforms, the 29-song concert event is a slightly mixed bag presentation that is imperfect but entertaining.  The recording’s success comes in large part through its noted extensive set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The one major issue with the recording is its audio mix.  This matter will be addressed a little later.  Knowing the concerns raised by the audio mix are not enough to doom the recording, the band’s overall performance of the concert rounds out its most important elements.  It will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered the concert is a presentation that is sure to appeal primarily to many of Schon’s (and Journey’s) most devoted audiences.

Neal Schon’s new forthcoming live recording, Journey Through Time, is an interesting new offering from the Journey guitarist and founding member.  It is a presentation that is imperfect but still largely enjoyable.  One of the main positives of the new recording is its featured set list.  The 29-song set list (yes, 29 songs) is spread across three discs on the recording’s 3-CD/DVD combo pack.  It pulls from nine of Journey’s 15 total albums while also presenting two other songs made popular by two other equally well-known acts in the form of Fleetwood Mac and Tito Puente.  The set list reaches all the way back to Journey’s 1975 self-titled debut album and reaches all the way up to its 1996 album, Trial By Fire.  It should be fully clarified here that Trial By Fire is represented in this concert set list through a performance of that album’s title track.  That track is part of a three-song medley that also included ‘Patiently and ‘Stay Awhile.’  So even while the set list does reach up to 1996, it should be noted that not every one of Journey’s albums up to that point are represented.  Trial By Fire’s predecessor, Raised on Radio (1986) is not represented in the set list.  Why that is the case is anyone’s guess, considering Schon and then front man Steve Perry were both involved in the album’s creation.  That anomaly aside, the set list featured here pulls quite liberally from what are Journey’s early core albums.  They represent the moment in time before the band’s lineup really started to change, which is perhaps why those records were specifically chosen for this set.  They represent the most familiar period of the band’s catalog for most fans.  To that end, the set list is certain to appeal to plenty of audiences and in turn forms a strong foundation for the recording overall.

While the set list featured herein is clearly a strong positive for the record, the presentation is not perfect.  Audiences will note that throughout the recording, there is a very severe issue with the concert’s audio mix.  From one song to the next, there are points throughout the concert in which the vocals find themselves washed out by the instrumentation.  At some moments, the issue is thankfully only temporary, but at others, it lasts a much longer amount of time.  This aesthetic element detracts considerably from the overall engagement and entertainment considering that audiences want to be able to see and hear concerts from beginning to end.  It is as if at some points, those responsible for the concert’s post-production got lazy (albeit unintentionally) or there simply was no way to fully address the venue’s audio.  If in fact, there was no way to address the impact of the venue’s acoustics then maybe the concert should not have even seen the light of day.  If however, the acoustics were not the issue, then more time could have and should have been spent further cleaning up the audio.  This continued occurrence of the recording’s audio issues weakens the foundation formed by the set list but luckily for fans, is not enough to doom the recording.  Keeping that in mind, there is still one more positive to note.  That positive is the band’s performance of the set list.

Considering the semi-intimate setting in which Schon and company held its concert, there was clearly not a lot of room to run around and be overly active.  That is a stark contrast to the arenas that Journey has typically filled throughout its decades-long life.  Even with that in mind, the band puts forth its fullest effort in the set’s slower, moments and in its heavier, more energetic moments.  Watching the band, the full focus is there from each performer in each song.  In other words, this concert was not just Schon and company phoning it in.  Rather the entire group gave its all throughout the concert.  The energy and emotion that the group puts forth in each song’s performance will connect even with audiences at home, to the end that the collective performance will immerse said audiences in its own right along with the set list.  When this positive is considered along with the extensive set list of fan favorite songs, the whole makes the recording overall a presentation that despite being imperfect, is still largely entertaining and engaging.

Neal Schon’s new live recording, Journey Through Time, is an interesting new live offering from the Journey guitarist and founding member.  It is a positive offering in that its 29-song set list pulls largely from the band’s formative years, before the band’s lineup started changing along with its sound and style.  It features many of the band’s most popular and beloved songs, which came from that era.  While the set list featured in the concert forms a strong foundation for the recording, the concert’s audio mix is slightly problematic.  There are points throughout the concert at which the vocals do get washed out.  It does not happen in every song, but it is frequent enough to note that it does happen.  Luckily it does not happen enough to doom the recording.  To that end, audiences will note the band’s overall performance here.  Each member of the group gives his all to each performance, thus further immersing audiences in the concert and making it that much more enjoyable for audiences.  Keeping in mind the engagement and entertainment that the group’s performance ensures along with the concert’s set list, the whole therein is more than reason enough for audiences to take in this recording and consider it among the best of this year’s new live recordings.

Journey Through Time is scheduled for release Friday through Frontiers Music s.r.l.  More information on the recording is available at: