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Ottawa Bluesfest Day Two – Journey

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Ottawa Bluesfest Day Two – Journey

Who: Journey

From: San Francisco

Where: Bell Stage, RBC Royal Bank Bluesfest, Ottawa

When: Day Two, July 4th 2014


Journey performs at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Friday, July 4th, 2013. The RBC Bluesfest is ranked as one of the most successful music events in North America.

Style: Soft rock band formed in 1973. Each new generation has found and fallen for the relatable and catchy anthems of Journey, gaining them fans from all corners of the Earth.

Crowd: As a tall frat boy succinctly exclaimed, “what a big-ass crowd”. Journey’s audience stretched back in its thousands, which is to be expected for one of the world’s best selling bands. But the crowd lacked attention and people were constantly flowing in and out of the show without much concern for what songs they would miss. Whenever a group would recognize a lyric they would animatedly join in for a few moments, much like at a karaoke night where everyone is half drunk and half disinterested. But this pub night was more like an under 18’s social event where the dress code required irritating attitudes and perfect tans. You could almost imagine them saying to each other “Do you wanna see that old band who’s song was on Glee?” which is a strange reality for Journey now since their music appeared on the popular TV show in 2009. If only they knew that there is so much more to Journey than Don’t Stop Believin’; the band has an exceptional history and impressive persistence for staying relevant in today’s music world. But at least they’re bringing in a younger audience now, which is good… right?

Journey performs at the RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa on Friday, July 4th, 2013. The RBC Bluesfest is ranked as one of the most successful music events in North America.

Technicalities: The band played their old music with precision and passion. The avid Journey lovers would not have been disappointed in the infatuated front section of the crowd. Time has certainly not slowed these musicians down or stolen their enthusiasm for performing the same songs over and over again. But it’s a shame that the rest of the audience did not pay attention long enough to be infected by it.

Sex Appeal: If you’re into aging rock stars then these guys will certainly strum your strings. All jokes aside, Journey still has some serious talent and catchy anthems which most people can find relatable. Although their songs are overplayed, the enthusiasm and enjoyment of each musician was endearing and the lead singer has a beautiful voice which lulls the audience in.


Memorable moment: Yes, you guessed it… Don’t Stop Believin’ was the star moment of the show. The audience gave more attention in those four minutes and seventeen seconds than in the whole ninety-minute set combined. Within moments of the first few chords being played, people from all over the festival began funnelling into the show and channeling more energy than Journey had seen all night. The enthusiasm was momentarily heart-warming and it was difficult not to get swept up in those lyrics; streetlights people, living just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the niiiiiight. (Admit it, you sang that last sentence). But almost as soon as the song had finished, the same newcomers filed out in their long snake-like hand chains to party elsewhere.

Overall: Journey’s lesser-known songs were slightly dated and difficult to get into if you were not already waist deep; the thirty-somethings were having visible teenage flashbacks all night. But the musicians did not disappoint and gave exactly what everyone expected of them. There were no surprises or moments of musical awe. But admittedly, the crappy audience was what truly let the show down and Journey entertained with the familiar magic that has sold 75 million records worldwide. The performance was decent but you could probably get the same amount of enjoyment — if not more — from listening to their records in your bedroom. That is assuming, of course, that you don’t live with tweenie siblings whose ears are programmed to hear those first few piano chords and begin screeching Just a small town girl, living in a lonely wooooooorld…


Review by Jill Stevens

Pictures by Mark Horton/RBC Bluesfest Press Images