Bethel Woods is my favorite ampitheatre if I have lawn seats. It's only a couple of years old and their lawn is thick and lush, the back of the seating area is high and very open for a great view and it's just beautiful grounds.
This was one of those summer shows where they did the 4 pack ticket lawn bargain. When they went on sale months ago I got the 4 tix including all charges for $99. It was my older sister's weekend and she likes all the bands and never saw Journey (neither had I) so it was a perfect gift, me, the two sisters and the bro in law.
In the months leading up to this show we discussed it with a bunch of friends and planned on getting a big crew together and doing the parking lot party before hand and it would be a great end to the summer, but then the unexpected happened...
The show sold out! I'm not exactly sure when, but I think only about a week before hand...and it seems there were alot of people who waited and planned on buying tickets right before hand because as soon as I head it sold out I went to ebay and stubhub to hopefully score at least two more tickets for two friends who REALLY wanted to go and lawn seats....I repeat LAWN SEATS were selling for over $100 a piece in the days before the show!! Holy Crap!
So, it ended up just being the four of us.
We got there about 5 (first band scheduled to go on at 7) and the main lot was almost completely filled, but we got a nice spot. Hung out had some beers and listened to Journey cranked and incredible volume by the three guy who parked right next to us and were more excited to see Journey than I thought any fella would be!
We headed inside for the Trick. and the lawn was basically completely full. They announced in the local papers that they sold 15,000 tickets to this show to make it a sell out (as well as to the Jonas Brothers who sold out a week or two earlier evidently). I think they should lower the sell out to 14,000 as it was just a bit too packed.
The sound is usually phenomenal here, but for Cheap Trick, it was only okay. Perhaps they suffered the typical opening band not getting full use of the PA, as Heart and Journey sounded great, but for Cheap Trick the volume was too low and sound a bit muddy on the lawn.
Luckily the lawn wasn't muddy - it looked to threaten rain all day, but it never did, although it got very cold for this august night, but more on the effect of that later.
Cheap Trick played a typical rockin set. I've seen them at least a dozen times and they're always great, the only lull for me was "The Flame" which I just never think pulls it's weight in the live scenario, but it was a huge hit and this crowd (which was way more female than a typical rock show) loved it. No real suprises, a few members of Journey joined them for "Dream Police". They played the biggies "Surrender", "I Want You To Want Me". All hits and over too fast, but they crowd gave them love. Personally I have to suggest if Cheap Trick play a theatre or club by you - GO! They are always great, especially given 90 minutes and a full sound system.
Speaking of the crowd. This was one of those crowds that had tons of people who don't go to shows too often anymore...maybe one a year or every too years, but when they do go...oh boy are they ready to party! Plus there were tons of groups of women...women who I think partied hard in the past and were reliving that glory tonight! This quite possibly was the drunkest crowd I've ever seen, but not mean drunk...but alot of fall down drunk!
So the sun set and the mad rush to the bathroom and drink lines happened and then the lights went down and Heart came on opening with "Wild Child". I'm not sure if other than Ann and Nancy anyone else with Heart currently have always been there or if they're just hired guns, but they were tight and solid and the voices and guitar playing of the Sisters Wilson were great. The last time I saw heart was actually about 20 years ago on the Bad Animals tour and I'd say they sounded better now! They did about an hour (with an encore break which was a waste - If you're only doing an hour, how about staying on stage and playing an extra tune) of all hits and two covers (also odd when you have tons of your own hits and only an hour to play.). The covers were an amazing "Love Reign O'er Me" from the Who and one of the encores was Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" which was good, but I thought lacking...would have preferred maybe "Dog and Butterfly" (or they're version of Zep's "Battle of Evermore" which Nancy teased in her acoustic guitar intro to "Crazy On You" the set closer). In there we also go "Barracuda", "Never", "Alone", "Magic Man", "These Dream" and "Straight On", maybe one or two others, a strong set and the crowd loved 'em.
About 25 minute break and by this time the sun is down and goddamn those shorts and tee shirts we all were wearing did not seem like enough any longer. It was a hot august day when the sun was out, but it was damn cold now - I would guess low 50's.
We saw some folks leaving right after Heart, but not many, most of this crowd was here for Journey.
Again this was not really a crowd that follows the latest music news and I would guess 75% of the people did not know they would not be seeing a Steve Perry-less Journey, but everyone would soon realize that Steve Perry is not missed.
The new guy, Arnel Pineda, is amazing. He doesn't alot like Steve Perry - He sounds EXACTLY Like Steve Perry on every song. It's amazing.
Just a huge hit filled set, but strangley what I would consider their biggest hits they played about 3/4 of the way through the show "Faithfully", "Open Arms", and the song that absolutely put them back on the charts with the younger crowd "Don't Stop Believing". I mention this because as I mentioned earlier, it was cold and after two or three songs of Journey's set you started to see people leaving because of this...about 30 or 40 minutes in, it was a good size stream, but when they finished playing "Don't Stop Believing" the crowds started pouring out, maybe not just the cold, but feeling they heard enough hits and for many it was a long day of partying.
My personal fave was "Wheel in the Sky" which came toward the end of the set and "Stone in Love" which was the third or fourth song in.
They did I believe three tunes off their new album which I have to say fit in just fine with their other songs and any hit you can think of was probably played - "Lights", "Lovin Touchin Squeezin", "Any Way You Want It" "Separate Ways" and some others I'm not thinking of at the moment.
Evidently this is one of the hot tickets of the summer/fall, so if it's coming around to your area and you want to go, get those tix now. You will not be dissapointed, these 15,000 party animals weren't.