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Charismatic Pineda leads Journey through the greatest hits at the Arena

UPDATED: FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2017, 3:31 P.M.

As soon as the lights dimmed Thursday night in the Spokane Arena, the entire audience rose to its feet, with many on the floor bouncing from foot to foot in anticipation.

Journey, with decades of performing and dozens of hit songs to its name, has worked hard for that reaction, but on stage, they make it look easy.

The band – singer Arnel Pineda, guitarist Neal Schon, bassist Ross Valory, drummer Steve Smith and keyboards/guitar player Jonathan Cain – were in peak condition and appeared as if they could have played twice as long, given the chance.

The set list, not surprisingly, read like a greatest-hits album, although there were still a few surprises for fans.

The band opened with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” with Pineda, ever the charismatic lead singer, reaching the farthest corners of the stage to wave to the crowd and invite them to sing along.

“Be Good to Yourself” and “Only the Young” followed before Pineda introduced Schon, one of two founding members still in the band, who performed an impressive solo, the first of many for the night.

After “Stone in Love” and “Anyway You Want It,” the band slowed things down with “Lights,” which Schon noted was the second song he wrote with former front man Steve Perry.

Taking it back to its hometown of San Francisco, the band performed the song with images of the city skyline, its famous rowhouses, Haight Street and trolley cars flashing behind them.

Cain then took the stage for a solo before the band continued the mellow moment with “Open Arms,” a song Pineda sings with so much emotion, you think he’d wrote it himself.

After “Who’s Crying Now” and “La Do Da,” it was time for Smith’s solo. The drummer, who rejoined the band in 2015, received the biggest response of the night.

From there, the hits kept coming: “Wheel in the Sky,” “Faithfully,” which was dedicated to the men and women in the Armed Forces, and, of course, the anthemic “Don’t Stop Believin’,” complete with confetti.

The band performed “La Raza del Sol,” with a lengthy jam session, and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ ” as an encore.

Journey has seen highs and lows in the past, with lineup changes and varying degrees of commercial success, but you wouldn’t know that watching them perform.

Aside from very brief moments in which Pineda’s powerful vocals were difficult to hear, the show was as smooth as one could expect from a band that has been performing for more than 40 years.

Before launching into “Escape” earlier in the show, Valory, the other founding member in the band, noted the album of the same name’s 35th anniversary and told the crowd, “We’re still here, and you’re still here. Thank you.”

With the band in tip-top shape and the energetic Pineda at the helm, it’s guaranteed that Journey will be here for many more years to come.



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