As you can imagine, when I was driving in my car on Sunday, singing along to Journey and the DJ slid in and mentioned that they were playing The Bowl on Tuesday. I rushed home, credit card in hand, and sat down at the google machine to buy tickets. Of course I’m going to see Journey, I mean “Faithfully” is my all time jam, not to mention “Lights”, “Open Arms”, “Anyway You Want It” and Clinton’s theme, “Don’t Stop Believin'”.

We went to pick up the tickets at the Hard Rock at Hollywood and Highland, where we’d just missed an epic golf demo.

We got the tickets.

And came up on Jim Morrison’s handwritten lyrics to “LA Woman”.

Then we hoofed it up to The Hollywood Bowl, noting that we were finally the “kids” at a show. Moms and Dads of all shapes and sizes, with picnic baskets and blankets shuffled up Highland. Mixed in were pockets of MYLFS (Moms You’d Like to Fuck) in bustiers, with gypsy scarves tied around their hips, and cups of white wine. The cross was humbled by the full moon which lit our way to our seats.

We were seated on a bench, with a great view. Turns out The Bowl sounds infinitely better from the middle up to the bleachers. You don’t see as much, but you hear every note. Our bench mates were five girls, each of whom were easily pushing 300. Don’t get me wrong, big is beautiful, but the bench was tight and I wanted to institute some airline regulations on their asses. The guy directly on my right, arrived alone, and promptly kicked over my twelve dollar beer. Suffice to say were off to a rocky start, but once I realized he was from Spain, I tried to rig a smile and act as an ambassador. Barcelona was good to me.

Anyway, we were packed into our seats with an enthusiastic batch of big girls and a solo Spaniard, enviously watching as this girl rocked out, with an entire row to dance in, not to mention an outfit she’d been hoarding since ’88.

Night Ranger , great logo, all black gear, long hair, still got it. In the midst of their set, I had a vision of a Night Ranger tramp stamp that reads “motorin'” in Night Ranger font. My partner suggested that the tattoo most likely existed and was within a hundred yards.

Every single time I come to The Bowl, I meet a wizard.

The stand out of the night. Seriously incredible, face melting, cock swagger, rockin’ a sidepipe: Foreigner.

I was unprepared for how deep the Foreigner bench is. Their entire set is hits. Nothing but hits.

We got yelled at to sit down by a mean old hag who looked like the preacher from “Poltergiest 2” and we promised each other that we’d never get old, mean and intolerant. I was willing to sit through “Waiting for a Girl Like You”, but “Urgent”? You’re kidding right? Fortunately The Bowl was on my side, everyone was up on their feet shakin’ it.

Foreigner’s front man is no joke. He sounds BETTER than their records. He has more energy than a cheerleader on speed. He is a rock star. Inverted mike stand, running leaps, tambourine antics, all while singing perfectly. That’s entertainment.

“Don’t you dare stop rocking” – Kelly Hansen of Foreigner

Unfortunately, when downloading my photos I deleted all the photos of Journey, but let me just use my words and explain the travesty that is Journey. I suspect God did not want me to remember the horror. Now I was prepared, I hoped that Steve Perry would wow The Bowl and perform, but I knew that Journey had taken on a young Asian singer. Let me be clear, he is a hired singer, he is no frontman. There is something so profoundly wrong with this tiny, generationally challenged man, who is ironically a “Foreigner”, singing Journey’s heartfelt American ballads. My friend immediately reacted, exclaiming, “Dude, and you thought Hagar was bad?!” At least Hagar brought his own Cabo Wabo schtick. He wasn’t imitating DLR.

It’s not Steve Lee Perry’s fault. It’s Journey’s fault. Bands need to accept that the front man is the face of the band, and the voice. I don’t want to see Journey without Steve Perry. If you care about your craft and credibility, stand on your legacy, but to carry on without the voice of Steve Perry, y’all are kidding yourselves. Journey’s songs are from the heart, all heart, and although Steve Lee Perry can sing, he has no soul for “when the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on the bay.” What does he know about “They say that road ain’t no place to start a family, right down the line it’s been you and me.” That’s all Perry, all day.

To boot, having already blown it, Journey is releasing new albums with their new singer and they wanted us to hear their new songs. You already devastated us by showing up sans Perry, now we’re supposed to listen to new songs. Give it up Journey.  The guy from Barcelona tapped me on the shoulder, with confusion and rage in his eyes. I explained Steve Perry had been replaced. He replied, “Everything in America is fake.” and turned back to glare at the stage. It was so sad. Thanks Journey, way to blow it for the Spaniard, who confessed he never would have bought a ticket had he known Perry was out. He wasn’t alone, we watched an exodus, including a blind man. I mean dude can’t even see and he knows it’s wrong.

This bastardizedincarnation of Journey had left half the audience looking for the karaoke sign up sheet and the other half wondering why they were suddenly teleported from the Hollywood Bowl to an American Idol taping. We went to the smoking section and sang “Faithfully”. The farther we got from our seats, and the view of the stage, the better Steve Lee Perry sounded. We dawdled in the bathroom and then leisurely made our exit. On the way out I stopped a Bowl employee and asked if she’d ever seen such a departure during a headliner’s performance and she said, ” Never in all my years. What’s happening?” I explained that the fans were bitterly disappointed by Journey, and they’d expected the real thing.

I will be looking out for Steve Perry tour dates. Go see Foreigner.