Pat Benatar

July 21, 2012
San Manuel Amphitheater
San Bernardino, CA

Review by Annette Higby
Photos by Brian Tierney

A triple-bill featuring some of the 80s’ finest at the sacred ground of the US Festival — what more could you ask for? Loverboy kicked off the night with their hit “Queen Of The Broken Hearts.” The crowd joined in for a subsequent hitfest of “Loving Every Minute Of It,” “The Kid Is Hot Tonight,” “When It’s Over” and “Hot Girls in Love,” dedicated to all the girls at the show.

After the main set, they returned for an encore, one at a time, to play their 1982 hit, “Turn Me Loose.” Matt Frenette started out on drums, Doug Johnson joined in on the keys, followed by Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve on bass and Paul Dean on guitar. Finally, Mike Reno came out singing.

Loverboy’s set had a strong finish with yet another hit, 1981’s “Working for the Weekend.” With over 30 years of platinum hits under their belt, it must have been a challenge to figure out which of their great hits they could narrow down to seven for tonight’s performance.

All of the songs Loverboy played tonight have been re-recorded for their forthcoming album, Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival on Frontier Records, produced in collaboration with Bob Rock. The album also features three new original songs, “Heartbreaker,” “No Tomorrow” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival,” all of which reflect their unique classic rock style.

Pat Benatar began her 11-song set with “All Fired Up.” At 59, Benatar looks great; tonight, she was dressed in a black mini-dress and black blazer. At one point, Benatar told the audience that “Promises in the Dark” was a very personal song, and that she had some trepidation when she slipped it under the office door of husband, guitarist and collaborator Neil Girado. He apparently liked it, as did the fans.

Benatar and Giraldo sat down together to perform “We Belong” because she said, “we’re old.” She made several references to her age, but by the way she was energetically bouncing around the stage, you wouldn’t think she was as old as she is.

On “Hell is for Children,” co-written in 1980 with Roger Capps when Benatar was living in New York City, featured some strong guitar from Giraldo and a strong reaction from the crowd.Benatar said she plays it at every concert to show solidarity for the children and she will continue to do so until every child is safe.

Other hits played included “You Better Run,” “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and “Love Is A Battlefield.” The band, which, in addition to Giraldo included Mick Mahan on bass guitar (with Benatar since 1995) and Chris Ralles on the drums, came out for an encore of “Heartbreaker” that segued into a rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Burning Ring Of Fire.”

After another extremely fast and efficient stage equipment change, Journey’s slot began with “Majestic” and “Never Walk Away”. The stage backdrop comprised a stage-wide LED screen of rapidly changing light images, beginning with what looked like flames. Singer Arnel Pineda’s vocals were clear and strong all night. On “Only the Young” And “Faith In The Heartland,” he conveyed a contagious high energy that engaged the crowd to clap and sing along. When “Faithfully” started with the piano and vocals, the call for lights went out and the audience participated by holding up their phones and singing along. Looking back and all around, it was a sea of sparkling lights.

Guitarist Neal Schon played a riveting solo that segued into “Stone in Love” followed by “Where Did I Lose Your Love.” During “Lights,” the backdrop showed a continuous stream of city skylines.“City of Hope” from 2011’s Eclipse album, was dedicated to San Bernardino. Moving maps on the backdrop, highlighting the Philippines in honor of Pineda’s birthplace. This song was partially written in the Philippines and the song’s video relates to the singer’s journey from obscurity to stardom as Journey’s front man for the past five years.

Schon played another guitar solo that flowed into their classic hit “Wheel In the Sky.” Jonathan Cain played harmonica, then returned to piano for a stirring solo that lead into the final four: “Open Arms,” “Separate Ways,” “Be Good to Yourself” and “Loving, Touching, Squeezing.”

Journey’s encore featured two of their greatest hits, “Anyway You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believing.” For the grand finale, a huge blast of white confetti was shot out into the crowd. It’s easy to see (and hear) why Journey has been around for so long, as every song, classics and newer ones, kept the large crowd enthusiastic and their the feet the entire time.

There’s little doubt Pineda sounds eerily like Steve Perry when he sings the classic hits, yet he took on his own unique sound when performing the new songs. Journey’s upcoming concert film Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey! touches on the singer’s early struggles and break to front one of the most successful bands of the 80s. While awaiting its release, the band will continue wowing audiences far and wide.

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