Turns out there’s plenty of room in the Wayback Machine after all. Out of the 8,600 folks at the i wireless Center on Wednesday night for the triple bill of Journey, Pat Benatar and Loverboy, almost half could be considered out of the age bracket of those who were in at least a bit of high school during the late ’70s or all of the ’80s.
Benatar’s husband, Neil Giraldo, at one point asked the crowd how many of them were younger than 35 years, and a substantial roar was the response.
Generations of fans grooved right next to each other, and while the youngsters were admiring the musicianship, the older of us in the crowd were beamed back 25 to 35 years.
But not much of the four hours had the feel of an “oldies” concert, especially in Journey’s case. And that’s thanks to limber, energetic Arnel Pineda, a 45-year-old who has been with the band for five years.
The Filipino, hired for his uncanny likeness to original singer Steve Perry’s voice, bounded around the stage for most of Journey’s nearly two-hour set. A crowd-pleaser, Pineda had a connect with his audience that’s sometimes not found in longtime lead singers.
While Pineda scurried across the stage, the two previous acts were a little more cautious. Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno, 58, dressed in a leather vest over a sleeveless T-shirt, a large bandanna and sunglasses, stayed firmly planted throughout the night.
Benatar, who turned 60 last month, turned in a subdued but respectable performance. The spiky-haired brunette who started her career 35 years ago now has long, auburn hair but the same gorgeous profile.
An overwhelming majority of the songs of the night sounded as good as we first heard them, whether that was on LPs, cassettes, CDs or MP3s. Keeping the instrument that is vocal cords in such shape through the years is remarkable. Reno kept his talking to a minimum in a 25-minute set, only declaring he was in the mood to buy farm equipment. “Where better to buy a tractor than this town, huh?”
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Giraldo, nearing a 31st wedding anniversary with Benatar, added distinct harmonies to his wife’s songs, especially “We Belong.” Now with a mop of silver hair, Giraldo ended the set with a series of riffs, from classic rock to the theme from “The Godfather.”
Journey entered to a set that would have made jaws drop in the ’80s, but these days is a serviceable wall of lights and rows of screens. Besides Pineda, each band member got time on center stage.
Guitarist Neal Schon gave a jaw-dropping rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” complete with “rockets red glare” behind him on the wall. Pianist Jonathan Cain gave an animated performance, with a smart move of having a video camera right above his fingers on the keyboard. More than the others, and with more time to play, Journey dug into a few album cuts, as well as a tune from the band’s newest album, “Eclipse,” the song “City of Hope,” written about Pineda’s home of Manila.
The main set built up to “Don’t Stop Believin’,” with nearly everyone on their feet and singing along, while “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” served as the encore.
It was a night for the younger Boomers and Generation X to reminisce, sing along and remember the days of being good to yourself, hitting with your best shot and workin’ for the weekend.