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Opening Act: Toto
February 17th, 2023
Thompson Boling Arena
Knoxville, TN

IMG 6939Journey in Knoxville - Photo Credit BoomerocityBoomerocity visitors know that we are huge Journey AND Toto fans here. The last time I saw Journey was back in 2018 during their Knoxville show. The last time I saw Toto was during their sound check at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville (2019). So, to say that seeing them again is long overdue would be quite the understatement.

If you have a short attention span for reading articles, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of my review of their show: It was phenomenal, and you really should try to catch both bands’ shows whenever you get a chance.

Toto opened the night to an enthusiastic, sold-out Thompson Boling Arena (almost 22,000 seats), delivering what Toto fans always expect and always receive: a high energy, tight, enthusiastic, mistake-free show that started precisely on time.

They delivered fan favorites as well as a couple of deep tracks from their impressive, deep catalog. A year and a half after live shows made a post-pandemic comeback, the good guys in Toto show that they do not take their performing moments for granted. Their love and appreciation for their fans was fed right back to them with each enthusiastic applause – mostly while standing.

In my somewhat humble opinion, Toto is one of the most under rated bands in rock and roll. Why they're not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame I'll never understand. They're body of work as a band and their influence on a vast number of albums for others alone should have had these guys in the Hall long ago. The same goes for many of Toto's peers. It's slights like this that causes the Hall to lose its credibility.

IMG 6918Toto in Knoxville - Photo Credit BoomerocityAfter a brief intermission, Journey hit the stage full of energy and power that hit the crowd right between their eyes wide with exuberance. Absent from the stage was any of the inner-band drama that has been reported on ad nauseum in the rock press and wannabe pundits. Being the consummate professionals that they are, they delivered a fun, hit-filled show that had most of the crowd on their feet for almost the entirety of the show.

I know that there’s a lot of people who say, “Journey ain’t Journey without Steve Perry”. They forget that Perry replaced Steve Fleischman, but I digress. C’mon, people. Life happens. If you feel that the band’s not worth seeing because someone is missing from the lineup, stay home. The rest of us will enjoy a great show . . . and we did.

I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: Vocally, Arnel is as good as Steve. Energy level wise: Arnel is much more active on stage in his 50’s than Steve was in his 30’s back in the 80’s. That’s not a criticism because I still LOVE the 80’s version of Journey. But I also love the current lineup of Journey. Each band configuration has their strengths and, without the "original" ("Steve Perry") version of the band, Arnel wouldn't be enjoying his success today.

Regardless how you feel, I encourage you not to ever rob yourself of a good time by taking a nostalgic trip down a musical memory lane by seeing still-great bands like Journey and Toto – together or solo. They’re still amazing.