The concert road trip is an inspirational rite of passage that everyone should indulge in at least once during their lifetime. The sights, sounds, and velvety air of unpredictability that envelop the experience draw a thin line between euphoria and feeling as if Murphy’s Law is close at hand.
My recent jaunt in Canandaigua for 1980s sensations Journey and Pat Benatar proved to be a fusion of both as an 80-minute traffic jam prevented me from catching one iota of Loverboy’s opening set, while the musical ferocity to follow from the headliners surely ameliorated my discontent.
While I know that select readers would love for me to report on whether or not “Working for the Weekend” and “When It’s Over” sent chills down the spines of everyone in attendance, certain things just aren’t meant to be.
In truth, I probably didn’t miss that much at all.
I arrived at the stunning Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center just as Pat Benatar began ripping into “Invincible,” and that was all I needed to hear to lay my irritation to rest. Everything about her has aged gracefully and she sings with the same furious hunger she always has.
“Promises in the Dark” was immaculate, “Heartbreaker” soared with an impromptu Johnny Cash cover thrown in, and “Love is a Battlefield” had every forty-something female ready to stand up and reclaim their independence.
The chemistry between Benatar and her husband/guitarist Neil Geraldo shined on an out-of-this-world interpretation of “We Belong” that separated itself from a set already littered with classic rock staples, so that will remain the moment that sticks with me long after the summer comes to a close.
Given that Wednesday marked my first time seeing her live, I have only a shortened set to look back on, but I have a feeling that Pat Benatar won’t be hanging up her rock and roll shoes anytime soon.
When Filipino phenom Arnel Pineda first joined Journey in 2007, I had my reservations about whether or not he could carry the torch that original singer Steve Perry left behind. The band had entered that territory before and come away with little more than cheap imitations.
After hearing him own the stage like the seasoned professional he is, I feel confident in saying that Pineda is the finest replacement singer they’ve had yet.
Although he turns 45 in September, he performs with the zest and appetite for perfection that appears to have rekindled the rest of the group’s desire to keep getting better. They’re simply having fun as a band again, and the audience is rewarded with a 20-song marathon march through the band’s illustrious 37-year career.
Once the opening lyrics of “Any Way You Want It” storm through the speakers, Journey brings the hits early and often.
“Stone in Love,” “Only the Young,” “Send Her My Love,” and “Faithfully” set the tone for the early part of the evening, while “Open Arms,” “Lights,” “Wheel in the Sky,” and “Anytime” prepare the crowd for a bombastic climax with confetti and all.
All members were flawless in their execution, but the sizzling guitar command of Neal Schon is the star of the show at every turn. His inclusion of the Star Spangled Banner within a solo elevated the show to a level I didn’t expect the band to reach.
Say what you will about his offstage philandering with Michaele Salahi, because he’s kicking plenty of asses every night on his custom Les Paul.
A lot of people rail on Journey as a nostalgia act tailor-made for women to rock out to, but that’s a dismissive concept for a band that is clearly loaded with talented individuals.
Don’t be fooled by the reputation, these guys still serve up one dynamic set after another, and couldn’t care less about what the establishment thinks of them in 2012.
In the end, it boils down to the songs, and, with or without Perry steering the ship, Journey has more than enough jewels to go around.