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Concert review: Journey 2012 tour finally plays coliseum

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 8:10 am

Thousands of Journey and Loverboy fans were the lucky ones because they didn't stop believin'. They finally came. They rocked the house - a full one at that - Sunday night at Memorial Coliseum.

After a two-month postponement due to Journey's lead singer Arnel Pineda's illness of severe laryngeal and esophageal inflammation, the group finally made the trek to Fort Wayne.

The tour originally included Pat Benatar and husband/guitarist Neil Giraldo, but they weren't able to perform this make-up date. Canadian group Loverboy already was on the bill.

Enter Night Ranger, who was to appear in Benatar's place; however, one of the singers became ill, and the group was unable to perform Sunday.

Did you get all that?

That meant Journey and Loverboy played longer set lists - to the delight of fans who love 1970s and '80s rock/pop music.

People attend concerts for two reasons: to enjoy current hot acts and to relive their past. Sunday's Journey 2012 concert was a combination of both.

All age groups were in attendance, but two caught my eye - three college-age guys to my left (hereafter called the youngsters) and the group to my right (Section 215). I was on the floor 12 rows from center stage.

Loverboy's lead singer Mike Reno came out belting song after song that made the group famous. "Lucky Ones," "Queen of the Broken Hearts," "When It's Over" and "The Kid Is Hot Tonite."

The youngsters remained seated and were quiet. They were either attending a recital or were waiting for Journey. I couldn't blame them really. These songs were my staple while I was in high school and in college. They had more sentimental value to me, as Reno told the crowd at one point, "When you hear this song, you will remember who you were with and what you were doing and if you got caught."

Yes, nostalgia. And Section 215 relived every note of every song. I've never seen a more unified group of fans. The majority stood from beginning to end, singing along to every song, swaying back and forth. They surely must have purchased their tickets together, because this section was Party Central. They were there to have a good time, and they did.

Paul Dean was on guitar, Doug Johnson on keyboards and saxophone, Matt Frenette on drums and Ken "Spider" Sinnaeve on bass. They were older, but none the worse for wear. They were having a good time reliving their past, too.

"Turn Me Loose" really loosened the crowd. By this time, everyone was up, singing and rocking to the music. Even the youngsters were up. Loverboy ended with "Working for the Weekend," which electrified the crowd and set the tone for Journey's entrance.

I now know why Journey's lead singer Pineda suffered from laryngeal problems in November. Pineda, who replaced former lead singer Steve Perry in 2007, was a vocal dynamo, and I can see why his voice needed to rest. This young man sounded just like Perry (probably with more range) and his energy breathed new life into the songs of my generation.

Everyone was up and rocking - even the youngsters. Journey led with "Separate Ways." And if there were some in the crowd who were sitting, they weren't for very long as Journey performed certainly the most eclectic - or maybe I should say electric - version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" I've ever heard or seen.

Pineda poured his heart and soul onto the stage, especially his sweat. By the third song he was drenched. I noticed he changed shirts several times (and probably wiped the sweat off his brow) while band members performed instrumental pieces which led into more of their hit songs. I also thought maybe the instrumental breaks were to rest Pineda's voice.

Pineda seemed to welcome others to sing along while he danced and entertained from one end of the stage to the other. He constantly pointed to the crowd and touched hands with fans. Again, his youth came into play as he jumped around the stage and onto and off of speakers.

Neal Schon played guitar, Jonathan Cain was on keyboard, Dean Castronovo on drums and Ross Valory on bass. Valory, especially, enjoyed himself and winked at me when I took his photo in the press pit.

Journey belted out the hits that made the group famous: "Any Way You Want It," "Stone in Love," "Open Arms," "Be Good To Yourself," "Wheel in the Sky," "Faithfully" and ended with "Don't Stop Believin'," in which the final notes signaled the release of a tremendous amount of white confetti onto everyone.

I'm happy to say the youngsters were enthusiastic and dancing to the music of Journey. Section 215 - well, they never stopped being enthusiastic and continued dancing.

While the confetti settled, the band left the stage only to return to play "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'," which left everyone in that feel-good mode.

While I was waiting to exit the arena, I only briefly spoke with the youngsters who were filing past me. I asked them if they enjoyed the concert, and they replied they had. One said his dad was in attendance, but sitting in the back, which made me chuckle.

Another generation won over by popular music of decades ago? Maybe so. If anyone didn't enjoy themselves, they need to buy their next concert ticket and sit in Section 215.