Perhaps because the band formed the year I was born (1973), Journey has always held a soft spot in my heart. Hearing the band perform the songs that shaped the soundtrack of my youth with hundreds of other people on a balmy September night on Milwaukee’s lakefront affirmed my love affair.
Journey opened its hour-and-a-half set at the BMO Harris Pavilion on the Summerfest grounds with "Be Good to Yourself" and served a steady stream of its classics: "Separate Ways," "Any Way You Want It" and "Only the Young."
No one can ever truly replace "The Voice" Steve Perry, but sound-alike Arnel Pineda comes damn close -- and, at age 46, he brings his own youthful vibrancy to the band’s current line-up.
While Pineda’s energy supply is seemingly boundless -- punctuated by twirls, jumps, kicks and spins -- the pint-sized Pineda lacks a certain gravitas and presence onstage.
But he does own a fascinating back story, which is the subject of the documentary "Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey." It’s a must-see for anyone who loves music, in general, and Journey, in particular, as well as for anyone who appreciates the timeless tale of overcoming the odds.
The documentary tells the story of how Journey found Pineda -- who spent several years living on the squalid streets of Manila -- and follows the band on the road for a year.
Sprinkled throughout Journey’s set at Wednesday night’s show were some sideshow attractions, including a tricked-out version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Neal Schon; "Mother, Father," sung by drummer Deen Castronovo; and a piano medley by Jonathan Cain.
A few newer songs were masterfully woven in among the iconic hits that everyone sang along to and swayed with.
The show ended particularly strong with the last three songs of the set, "Wheel in the Sky," "Faithfully" and "Don’t Stop Believin’," which featured blasts of confetti on the final note.
But Journey saved the best for last: Pineda led the crowd through the sweet and sometimes soulful lyrics of longing in "Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’."
If you missed Journey in Milwaukee, you can catch the band when it meets up with The Steve Miller Band for a show in Tinley Park, Ill. on Wednesday, Sept. 10.
Be Good to Yourself
Any Way You Want It
Only the Young
The Star-Spangled Banner
Stone in Love
Wheel in the Sky
Don't Stop Believin'
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'
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