One of Los Angeles' most iconic concert venues, the Hollywood Bowl, launched its 94nd season with the 2015 Opening Night Concert, featuring ever-popular and long-enduring rock band and recent Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame inductees JOURNEY, Saturday, June 20, at 8 p.m.
JOURNEY — original members Neal Schon (guitars, backing vocals) and Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals); long-term members Jonathan Cain (keyboards, backing vocals) and Deen Castronovo (drums, percussion, backing vocals); and lead singer Arnel Pineda — has had three highly successful appearances at the Bowl since 2006. Since the group's formation in 1973, JOURNEY has earned 19 Top 40 singles and 25 gold and platinum albums. Omar Hakim filled in on drums for the evening in Castronovo's absence.
In its first-ever performance with an orchestra, the band played a full set filled with Billboard Hot 100 hits with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (HBO), led by its charismatic Principal Conductor Thomas Wilkins. The band also performed during the first half of the concert with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) Choir.
The Opening Night at the Hollywood Bowl benefit concert raised a record-high $1.6 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's many education and community programs, which serve more than 150,000 youth, families and teachers every year.
JOURNEY founding member, and guitarist, Neal Schon stated: "When I heard about our dilemma with our drummer, I called Steve Smith. But he was unable to make it as he was touring in Europe. I'm very happy I was able to bring Omar Hakim in to help us pull together a very elaborate and complex show at the last minute. It was a nearly impossible feat, and tall order for anyone, but with Omar's musical integrity and talent, we pulled it off and had a blast! Glad to know I've still got the ears and now I'm 2 for 2: first was finding Arnel on YouTube and now, recruiting Omar Hakim. I also want to commend Thomas Wilkins, who is an amazing conductor, Sean O'Loughlin, for his excellent arrangements; along with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and YOLA, for helping us create an unforgettable and magical night."
The festive evening began with Wilkins leading the HBO in Los Angeles-based composer Peter Boyer's "Silver Fanfare", during which a video montage of highlights from past Hollywood Bowl Opening Nights was shown on the Bowl's big screens. After officially welcoming the audience, Wilkins introduced the LA Phil Gala Committee Chairs Teena Hostovich and Doug Martinet and Sponsorship Chairs Jonathan Weedman and Raymundo Baltazar, before welcoming Danny DeVito to the stage. The actor shared with the audience the background and accomplishments of LA Phil's YOLA program and its music education efforts before introducing a video focusing on YOLA and their preparation for performing with Journey which was a focus at their recent YOLA camp, which took place in Idyllwild. Through YOLA, the LA Phil and its community partners that share in the program's managerial and fiscal responsibilities provide students ages 6 to 18 from underserved neighborhoods free instruments, intensive music training and academic support.
Following the YOLA video tribute, DeVito welcomed and introduced the 80 members of YOLA seated on stage along with the LACHSA Choir. Wilkins then welcomed JOURNEY to the stage to begin the first half of the concert.
JOURNEY, along with the YOLA students, led by Wilkins, started off with a couple of favorite JOURNEY tunes — "Only The Young", followed by power ballad "Faithfully", featuring the LACHSA Choir. The first half wrapped with JOURNEY, YOLA and the choir playing the band's 1978 release "Lights", accompanied by a fireworks show.
The second half of the concert picked up with JOURNEY, joined now by the HBO and Wilkins, launching into a full set of their most popular and beloved hits, beginning with "Be Good to Yourself", followed by "Open the Door". They continued with "City of Hope" from their 2011 album "Eclipse", and their biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit "Open Arms", both with the LACHSA choir. As the set continued, they played "Still They Ride", followed by "Who's Crying Now", performed with the LACHSA choir. Next was Grammy-nominated "When You Love a Woman", which reached No. 1 on the U.S. Hot 100 in 1996, "Winds of March", "Mother Father" with the choir, and "Patiently". They went on to the band's first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978, "Wheel in the Sky" with choir, and "Escape".
JOURNEY, with the HBO and Wilkins, rounded out the concert with a rousing rendering of "Any Way You Want It" accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display. For the encore, JOURNEY returned to the stage with the LACHSA choir for the band's perennially popular "Don't Stop Believin'" to conclude the show.
A number of film and television personalities, as well as elected and other civic officials, were on hand to enjoy the benefit concert, including John Savage, the Bowl's Spamalot cast member Merle Dandridge, drummer Matt Sorum and Michaele Schon. Also attending were Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, County Department of Parks and Recreation Director Russ Guiney, Los Angeles Philharmonic Board Chair Diane B. Paul, and Los Angeles Philharmonic Executive Director Gail Samuel.
Prior to the concert, Opening Night Patrons enjoyed a VIP cocktail reception in the Hollywood Bowl Museum Patio. Remarks were made by the evening's Gala chairs Teena Hostovich and Doug Martinet as guests enjoyed Prosecco and tray-passed hors d'oeuvres. Wells Fargo, the Opening Night Title Sponsor, set their famous stage coach replica inside the cocktail reception, and guests delighted in having their photo taken inside the coach and being presented immediately with a commemorative photo.
Dinner, served in the boxes to Opening Night patrons, began immediately after the reception. Each box table was laid with Terra Cotta linens, complemented by a silver mercury glass vase of California succulents with a burst of bright orange pincushions, pink Floyd roses, purple vanda orchids, yellow craspedia, mini calla lilies and ornamental Lily grass mimicking the shell of the Hollywood Bowl.
The dinner, a custom menu designed by Patina Restaurant Group's Joachim Splichal, presented a first course Summer Berry Salad with Harry's Berries strawberries, wild arugula, camembert chantilly, shaved ciabatta, and purple ice cress leaves. The main entrée was Chicken Pot Pie made with Petaluma Farms chicken breast, nantes carrots, sweet peas and celery, in a golden puff pastry. Dinner concluded with alternating desserts of Strawberry Tres Leches Cake with vanilla chantilly, Trevino farms strawberries, Thai basil and an Apricot Crostata with champagne gastrique, citrus yogurt sherbet, and mint leaves. At intermission, guests received a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf thermos with a Madeleine cookie treat.
Wine for the evening was provided by Cupcake Vineyards.
Photo: Greg Grudt / The Hollywood Bowl