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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 28, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 43
Journey and Foreigner rekindle memories for thousands
Arts & Entertainment
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Journey and Foreigner rekindle memories for thousands

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

Journey / Foreigner
October 21
Key Arena


Try telling 17,000 people that the '70s and '80s are over. This sizeable audience gathered in Key Arena last Friday to witness two of the era's biggest rock bands, Journey and Foreigner, pound away with back-to-back headlining sets. A third group from the same time period, Night Ranger, opened the show.

Neither Journey nor Foreigner played with its original lineup, though some veterans were present on this final night of an impressive sold-out, nationwide tour. Missing were the acts' prominent lead singers, Steve Perry and Lou Gramm, respectively. Filling both of these men's giant shoes were Arnel Pineda for Journey and Kelly Hansen for Foreigner.

First out of the gate was Foreigner, who motored through a strong set that included terrific renditions of 'Cold As Ice,' 'Waiting for a Girl Like You,' and 'Dirty White Boy' - the latter dedicated to all the naughty girls in the crowd (and there were many). 'Feels Like the First Time,' Foreigner's initial hit off their self-titled debut, had a lot of concertgoers on their feet and singing the chorus. My guess is that some of these fans skipped class and made out under their high-school bleachers when this song surfaced in 1977.

'Urgent' featured snazzy saxophone work, which thrilled the audience that ranged in age from college kids to salt 'n' pepper-haired grandparents. Hansen, who wore light-blue stretch pants with a black T-shirt, didn't do anything special with the sings and he didn't need to; people love them just as they are. But I was glad he didn't try to make them his own, either. He stayed on course and did justice to all of them with a boyish energy that found him running from side to side on the stage, and standing atop several speakers just below the platform.

While performing 'I Want to Know What Love Is,' Hansen slipped and nearly fell through a gap between a speaker and the stage. But not before delivering a sweet rendition of that ballad, with the help of the tour's stage crew jumping on stage and thousands throughout the venue singing the chorus in unison. 'Hot Blooded' finished the main set.

For an encore, Foreigner went out with a bang. A cool animated video of a teenager morphing from a fan into a rock star was the backdrop for 'Jukebox Hero.' They exited with a group bow and waves to the crowd.

Journey opened explosively with one of their biggest cannons, 'Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).' There were, of course, immediate comparisons between Perry and Pineda as lead singers. Even though nobody can match Perry, one of rock's best-ever vocalists, Pineda held his own with a set of pipes that were fiery and boisterous. But where Perry layered and tempered his vocals, so noticeable on Journey's ballads, Pineda belts and wails with few dynamics.

The re-organized Journey showcased two of its original members, Jonathan Cain and ace guitarist Neal Schon. They plowed through a set highlighted by several top hits from the '80s, but surprisingly also reached back further into their catalog for a couple of gems, 'Wheel in the Sky' and 'Any Way You Want It.'

'Only the Young,' 'Send Her My Love,' and the tender 'Faithfully' all sounded fine, although it must be said without Perry these songs also sounded like decent versions by a great cover band. Cain slowly introed 'Open Arms,' which erupted in a huge sing-along with fans - from the front rows on the main floor to noseblood seats on the upper level - swaying their arms and waving illuminated cell phones. 'Be Good to Yourself' was also thrown into the mix, and I loved how it echoed around the large sports arena.

As expected, Journey saved 'Don't Stop Believin' for the finale. The song, a running theme for Glee's first season that earned the cast a Grammy nomination for covering it, gave the concert a remarkable, enthusiastic climax. Pineda, at times so hyper he came across as a clapping monkey, knew how to work the crowd, even if he tried too hard.

I would give anything to see the authentic lineups for Journey and Foreigner, whose 45s and cassette tapes I collected from elementary through high school. But I was not at all disappointed by Friday's semi-replacement bands, which came very close to sounding like the originals. For loyal fans, the important thing is that their music lives on.

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