Journey fans are really devoted or really defiant.
Either way, when a PNC Music Pavilion official came on stage at 9:25 p.m. Saturday to inform those with uncovered seats that they needed to temporarily evacuate to their cars because of a severe storm, many stayed in place and waited for the show to continue.
Lightning, gusts of wind and sheets of rain be damned.
About 25 minutes into the wait, Journey’s noted bass player Ross Vilroy seemed to reassure fans that the band hadn’t skipped town when he nondescriptly went on stage, picked up a push broom and brushed it across the stage.
He entertained the crowd with some wicked air guitar before disappearing again.
Fifty minutes into the rain delay, Journey appeared for the first time, starting strong with their 1983 hit, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).”
Lead singer Arnel Pineda, the Filipino recording artist who was discovered by the band on YouTube in 2007, sounded remarkably similar to former lead singer Steve Perry.
The band would go on to sing 16 more songs before closing out the show just shy of midnight, including “Anyway You Want It,” “Who’s Crying Now,” “Faithfully” and “Wheel in the Sky.”
On “Lights,” many in the audience swayed their phone flashlights in the air.
Pineda brought a lot of energy and showmanship, kicking and jumping around, high-fiving fans in the front row and frequently kneeling on the floors while belting out the more dramatic sections of a song.
He also disappeared no less than four times during the hour and a half set to change shirts.
It was a bit of a sharp contrast from the rest of the band, who seemed to be enjoying the performance just as much but in a more low-key way.
Each bandmate did have his moment in the spotlight, however, including a memorable guitar solo of the Star Spangled Banner from Neal Schon and an extended keyboard solo from Jonathan Cain that led into the beginning notes of “Open Arms.”
But at times, it felt like Pineda and the rest of the band were on different wavelengths.
In contrast, earlier in the night, the fraternal cohesion of the Doobie Brothers was palpable.
The Doobie Brothers delivered a polished performance that featured such 1970s hits as “Jesus Is Just Alright,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway” and “Sweet Maxine.” Marc Russo, who inconspicuously walked around stage with his saxophone throughout the night, delighted the crowd with his impressive talent.
And just before “Taking It to the Streets,” singer Patrick Simmons dedicated the song to Muhammad Ali, who died a couple of days earlier.
“I want to tip my hat to what I think was the greatest ... the greatest – does that ring a bell? Muhammad Ali,” said Simmons. “We want to do this song for him.”
The band closed out their set by hooking their arms around each other and taking a group bow. Classy move, Doobie Brothers.
Saturday’s concert was a nostalgic night celebrating iconic progressive and pop rock songs of the 1970s and 1980s, kicked off with a noteworthy performance by Dave Mason that included his 1977 hit, “We Just Disagree.”
So it would make sense that the concert would end on perhaps one of the most recognizable rock songs of all time – a song so transcendental, so epic that it went multi-platinum for digital purchases more than three decades after its release in 2013: “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
But that’s not what happened. After a brilliant performance of the 1981 hit song (which culminated in white confetti raining down on the crowd at the end), Journey returned for an encore of their 1979 song, “Lovin’, Touchin’ Squeezin’.”
“Thank you for your patience,” said Pineda afterward. “We love you. God bless you guys.”
Perhaps they didn’t want to be cliche or predictable by ending on “Don’t Stop Believin’.” But their final song selection definitely felt anticlimactic. Next time, guys, I would just stop at the confetti.