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Journey rocked the '80s for a packed house at the Kentucky State Fairby Jeffrey Lee Puckett - courier-journal.com
August 20, 2012
In a scenario straight out of 1981, Journey sold out Freedom Hall Friday night, as in completely. It was packed the way a Justin Bieber show is packed, from top to bottom and in every direction.
But let's fast-forward 30 years, to when the Beebs is pushing 50. Does anyone really think that 18,000 people will fill an arena to hear him sing his greatest hits? Absolutely not. Journey is among the last of a dying breed: a hugely popular rock band from the days when radio was dedicated to new music, and now their ride continues thanks to a classic rock radio format that endlessly recycles their hits.
But what are the odds that in 2042 there'll be a classic pop radio format playing the 'tween idol hits of 2012? What are the odds that there'll even be radios? So Friday's show, which was part of the Kentucky State Fair, was something the likes of which we may never see again. Once all of the bands from the back in the day are dead or retired, of course.
Journey sounded like retirement is out of the question for the immediate future. Singer Arnel Pineda, who joined in 2007, has breathed new life into the band with his energy and a voice that's eerily similar to Steve Perry's, the singer who fronted Journey during its period of greatest commercial success.
Pineda was all over the stage and seemed genuinely eager to make a connection with fans. He really didn't need to work that hard, as Journey's songs did most of the heavy lifting.The set was filled with all of the band's classic material, from "Lights" to "Don't Stop Believin'," and an audience singalong was pretty much guaranteed every few minutes.
That was true all night, as a pair of vintage rockers opened the show.
Loverboy was up first and sounded surprisingly vital. Singer Mike Reno still has his pipes, which is more than half the battle with bands from the Eighties, and Loverboy's short set was nothing but hits.
"Turn Me Loose" was probably the highlight, although "The Kid is Hot Tonite" also sounded pretty great.
Pat Benatar was second on the bill and she, too, still has her pipes and then some; her cannon of a voice was always her calling card and it remains ripe and full-throated, with a lot of nuance. Benatar is co-billed these days with her husband, Neil Giraldo, who has been her guitarist, primary songwriter and producer for decades, and they were a cute couple Friday night.
The best of Benatar's songs still pack a punch, and it didn't hurt that she delivered them with no frills, eschewing flash in favor of substance. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and 'Heartbreaker," two of her oldest hits, were two of her strongest, although a largely acoustic version of "We Belong" remained charming 28 years after it hit the Top 5.
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