Still riding their “Glee”-ful resurgence, a revitalized Journey brought a few of their fellow 80’s rock stalwarts to the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre in Tampa this weekend. Paired with Pat Benatar and Loverboy, it promised to be a fun flashback packed with iconic rock tunes.
Due to an absurdly long line of traffic entering the facility,and being re-routed to a lot which seemed to be in Clearwater, we missed Loverboy. We arrived right at the printed start time of 7:30, which turned out to be the time they wrapped up. Guilty pleasure confession: I always loved the band’s music and was kind of bummed I missed their set. The general consensus was that despite their considerably tighter black and red leather, the Canadians still sounded good.
Pat Benatar is sharing her billing with husband and long time guitarist Neil Giraldo on this tour. They sounded good and offered up a great setlist featuring songs from their entire catalog. The band kicked off the set with a trio of powerful hits, “All Fired Up,” Invincible” and “Promises in the Dark.” They then brought out a pair of stools, caught their breath, and slowed it down a bit.
Over the course of the 50 minute performance, the band offered up all of their biggest hits including crowd favorites “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love Is a Battlefield.” The highlight of the set was a great closing version of “Heartbreaker,” during which they deftly weaved in Led Zeppelin’s identically titled classic and Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire;” a great version of a great song.
The headliners took the stage with a nice line-up reminiscent of that from the band’s heyday. Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Jonathan Cain, holdovers from the band’s epic 80’s line-up, are still performing and were joined on stage by Deen Castronovo who has been at the drums for the last dozen years. The new face is Filipino, Arnell Pineda, who was discovered by Schon covering Journey songs on Youtube (really). Pineda’s voice is eerily similar to Steve Perry’s and his vocals were damn near perfect throughout the show.
They immediately got the crowd engaged with a rousing version of “Anyway You Want It,” and did a nice job sampling hits from their entire catalog. Early highlights included “Feeling That Way / Anytime,” “send Her My Love” and “Faithfully.” The band took a quick break and Schon offered up a fantastic solo version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Schon is an under-appreciated guitar legend with a slew of great, memorable riffs to his credit, and he truly shined during the solo.
The second half of the generous set included “Separate Ways,” “Lights,” and “Wheel In the Sky,” as well as “Just The Same Way,” with Cain taking over lead vocals. The band also offered up a few deeper cuts, which were generally received with ambivalence from a crowd that was there for the hits. Overall, the band offered up a nice, broad selection of hits, but at times seemed to be going through the motions. They closed the show with “Don’t Stop Believing” and came back with an anti-climactic version of “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin.'” It was a nice end to a decent, yet unspectacular show.
I did have a priceless experience as the crowd sang along loudly to “Open Arms.” My friend Luc the Toque, belted out “I come to you with broken arms!” Nice, a priceless cross-up between Journey and Mister Mister… Thanks, Luc!
We had lawn seats in the equivalent of deep right field. I’d recommend the lawn if you’re just going to hear some classic tracks, chill with friends and sing along a bit, and that worked on this night. But, the truth is, the sound was muddy and the mix inconsistent throughout the night so far from the stage. If you are headed to the Amphitheatre and are looking for a mpre pristine sound, I’d definitely recommend moving up into the reserved seats.
Check Out the full Setlists below.
Pat Benatar Setlist
All Fired Up
Promises in the Dark
You Better Run
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Love Is a Battlefield
Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire
Anyway You Want It
Ask the Lonely
Only the Young
Feeling That Way / Anytime
Send Her My Love
Neil Schon Solo – Star Spangled Banner
Stone In Love
Just the Same Way
Wheel In the Sky
Don’t Stop Believing
Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’