July 11, 2016 Journey & The Doobie Brothers Make It Rain At Jones Beach, NY 6-27-16 w/ Dave Mason
Fans of the 1970s and 1980s Bay Area music scene were elated earlier this year as word spread quickly of the upcoming San Francisco Fest 2016 tour. Kicking off on May 12th, the tour features co-headliners Journey and The Doobie Brother’s with a very special guest, Dave Mason. With shows plot all around the US through August 30th, on the warm and partly cloudy evening of Monday, June 27th, the fest made a stop at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater down at the beach in Wantagh, New York. A perfect setting for a summer night concert, fans came out in droves to enjoy an evening filled with Classic Rock-n-Roll. Very familiar with the confines of the Jones Beach venue, all three acts have made the stage a home many times over with Journey last appearing in June 2014, The Doobie Brothers played in the Laid Back Festival in August 2015, and Dave Mason also visited many years ago. With that all said, it was time for fans to kick back, enjoy the breeze, and get ready for an evening of feel-good Rock music.
Taking the stage first was renowned Guitarist and Songwriter Dave Mason. A co-founding member of the band Traffic, Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductees in 2004, Mason has had a very successful solo career. Joining Mason on stage was Tony Patler (keyboards/vocals), Johnne Sambataro (guitar/vocals), and Alvino Bennett (drums); who came out to a cheering crowd. Anxious to strike the iron while it was hot, Mason and company went right into 1970’s Alone Together track “Only You Know And I Know.” Taking a moment to speak to the crowd, he spoke of coming from a band he started when he was just eighteen years old, that band of course is the famous Traffic; thus seguing into the 1969 Traffic cut “Medicated Goo.”
Playing on with 1977’s “We Just Disagree,” die-hard fans rose to their feet and clapped afterwards. Giving them another solo hit, “Look At You Look At Me,” he switched back to the days of Traffic with “Dear Mr. Fantasy” from Traffic’s 1967 release, Mr. Fantasy. Conversing more with the audience, he mentioned the next song was one he wrote when he was nineteen, “Feelin’ Alright.” A track Joe Cocker and many others have covered, Mason originally recorded it with Traffic before later re-released it on his 1974 solo album, Headkeeper, and the Jones Beach audience was ecstatic to hear it. Performing one last song, Mason spoke about his relationship with the late, great Jimi Hendrix and how he was honored to play the 12-string guitar on Hendrix’s recording of Bob Dylan’s song “All Along The Watch Tower.” With that said, Mason rocked out his rendition of the classic to more positive feedback. With over 50 years in Rock, Mason is a legend. Those who are interested, he also has a new album out, entitled Traffic Jam, which features new tracks, as well as re-recorded classics.
With the intermission winding down, there were more seats occupied in the venue as the clouds overhead began to thicken, every once in a while dropping some light rain. With the possibility of rain coming, it did not hinder the excitement that unfolded as The Doobie Brothers came walking out on stage. This band has been making good-time Rock-n-Roll music for over four decades. With their impressive catalog of songs, they have three multi-platinum, seven platinum, and fourteen gold records. In addition, their 1976, Best Of The Doobies, sold more than twelve million copies, earning them a diamond record. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that they have won four Grammy Awards over the years and all these years later, attract a massive crowd everywhere they land.
With a roar of cheers to greet them, Patrick Simmons (guitars/vocals), Tom Johnson (guitars/vocals), John McFee (guitars/vocals/fiddle/pedal steel/dobro), Bill Payne (keyboards), John Cowan (bass/vocals), Marc Russo (saxophone), Ed Toth (drums), and Tony Pia (drums) all came out in high spirits with smiles on their faces. Rocking from the moment they hit the stage with a crowd favorite, “Jesus Is Just Alright,” and then “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)” had fans up on their feet swaying to the music. Then, getting real heavy and funky, they played “Dark Eyed Cajun Woman,” from 1973’s The Captain And Me.
Treating their fans to a newer song from their 2010 release, World Gone Crazy, they played the title track. Often a time many take a bathroom break, this audience dug it and remained attentive as they grooved along to the fresh music. Taking everyone back to the hits of the 1970’s, they performed “Eyes of Silver,” then “Sweet Maxine,” as Payne was given some time in the spotlight. Playing a smooth keyboard solo, everyone rose to their feet, enthusiastically cheering for more. Then, keeping energy high, “Takin’ It To The Streets” rocked the theater, as did 1989’s “The Doctor.” As soon as the first few notes of the next song rang out, the cheering became deafening, and as soon as the vocals kicked in, the fans were singing along to “Black Water.” An all-time favorite, midway through, all that could be heard was fans singing and The Doobie Brothers gladly pointed the microphones their way and let them take over for a line or two.
Keeping the good times rolling, they played two more smash hits, “Long Train Runnin’” and the rocking “China Grove,” before Johnston took a moment to thank the audience. Departing for a little breather, the beloved Doobie Brothers soon returned to do a two-song encore starting with “Without You.” Before playing their final section, Johnston said, “We came here to Rock and Roll! New York, we’ve got one more for you. If you know the words, help us out.” With a roar of cheers following, Johnston exclaimed, “Let me hear you!” With that, they kicked into “Listen to the Music” as nearly everyone was up, dancing at their seats, and singing along to each word. Taking a collective bow in appreciation, The Doobie Brothers exited the stage after a delightful set. While times have changed, one thing has not, the love for classic Rock-n-Roll, and The Doobie Brothers prove that time and time again.
So after moving and grooving, complements of Dave Mason and The Doobie Brothers, everyone was ready for the final act, stadium rockers Journey. Formed in 1973, Journey has gone through several phases and line-up changes in their impressive run. While the height of their commercial success came between 1978 and 1987, with sales resulting in two gold albums, eight multi-platinum albums, and one diamond album, Journey has kept their legacy going through the decades to follow. With total sales of over forty-eight million in the United States alone, there is no denying the popularity of Journey, and the turn out at Jones Beach each time they visit is massive.
Revving up fans excitement, this tour also sees the return of long time drummer Steve Smith for the first time since 1998. With that on everyone’s mind, Smith came out on stage to a sea of cheers before he was joined by Neal Schon (lead guitar/backing vocals), Jonathan Cain (keyboards/guitar/backing vocals), Ross Valory (bass/backing vocals), and Arnel Pineda (lead vocals). Starting right off playing a familiar hit, they got the place rocking with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” off of their 1983 release, Frontiers. After they played “Be Good To Yourself,” from 1986’s Raised On Radio, and “Only the Young,” Schon took hold of the spotlight with an amazingly sweet and smooth guitar solo.
As a light rain once again began to fall from the sky, fans were so engrossed in the energy of Pineda, it was barely noticed. Most people were up on their feet looking to follow Pineda as he moved about the stage with force. Then, “Stone In Love” and “Any Way You Want It” had everyone dancing and singing along. Taking a moment to catch his breath, Pineda happily said, “Thank you for coming, on a Monday, you all must have worked today, we are lucky as this is work for us.” With a blaze of cheers, they went into seldom performed live “Line of Fire.” A welcomed addition to the set, during mainstays such as “Lights,” most of the audience members took their cell phones out and lit the dark of the night, making the song’s experience even greater.
Keeping the show flowing quite well, Cain then treated everyone to an astonishingly beautiful piano solo. This moment seemed to be perfectly placed as it seamlessly moved into the romantic favorite “Open Arms” before another hit, “Who’s Crying Now.” Taking in the moment, Valory stated, “It’s so nice to be back here at Jones Beach! The last two songs we did was off of Escape and we are happy to say Escape is in its 35th year this season.” Difficult to believe it has been that long, many of the audience grew up with the album, and still cherish it to this day. Happy to hear the band play Escape’s title track, it was “La Do Da” that gave Smith the chance to mesmerize the fans with a drum solo. With his very sleek stature, he effortlessly moved about his drum kit in impressive fashion.
The last of the soloing segments of the night, the rest of Journey returned to the stage with “Dead or Alive” and another favorite, “Wheel in the Sky.” Tapping into the emotions of many couples, they continued into the sing-along classic “Faithfully,” where many could be seen embracing one another as they swayed back and forth. Then, almost as if it was orchestrated, during “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the sky opened up for a heavy rain. While no one wants to get wet, it was like a grand production and the adrenaline peaked at that given moment. Thinking it was all but over, Journey returned for a one-song encore with 1979’s “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” while the rain continued to fall, but not deter anyone from leaving until the final note.
Overall, it was an evening full of sing-along hits from stellar bands with impeccably talented musicians. Each act brought their own unique style to the stage, and it is shows such as these which help define a summer concert season. San Francisco Fest continues on, spreading good sensations, so get out there and listen to the music.