FAIRBORN — In their final concert before being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, members of Journey showed a packed Nutter Center April 4 why they’re entering musical nirvana.
For nearly two hours, the classic rock band displayed the soaring vocals, ear-popping base and drums, hot guitar licks and chilling keyboard sounds that made Journey one of the top bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Appropriately, the opening song “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” combined all of the aforementioned into one amazing four-minute jam.
Many fans wanted to see first-hand how singer Arnel Pineda — with the band since 2007 — would handle some of the high notes that made former lead singer Steve Perry so popular.
Going right into “Be Good to Yourself,” Pineda hit every note and brought a dimension of energy and charisma to the stage that previous lead singers may have lacked. Throughout the night, he ran and jumped around on stage, changing sweat-soaked shirts several times.
Following “Ask the Lonely,” which also showcased the band’s ability to harmonize, lead guitarist Neal Schon went into a guitar solo that was worthy of being a set-closing piece.
A mini-greatest hits set shortly followed, featuring “Any Way You Want It,” “Lights,” “Open Arms,” and Who’s Crying Now.”
Before playing “Lights,” Schon introduced the song as the second one he wrote with Perry and dedicated it to John Wetton, former lead singer of opener Asia, who died in January. A video montage of San Francisco — where Journey formed — played in the background.
Jonathan Cain had a piano solo mixed in and teased parts of “Send Her My Love,” and “I’ll Be Alright Without You,” — neither of which made the setlist.
A couple of lesser-known tunes — “Chain Reaction,” and “La Do Da,” — followed before drummer Steve Smith had his turn at a solo.
He showcased his immense talent, pounding for nearly five minutes, unleashing some fancy stick skills that brought the crowd to its feet in appreciation.
Schon followed with a short solo that led into “Wheel in the Sky,” and then Cain had his moment alone as he told a story about a late night bus ride in 1982 and how band members and their families “paid the price” for the road life. A song began to take shape that night and by morning’s end, the powerful ballad “Faithfully” was born.
The band dedicated it to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, who have also paid the price.
The regular set ended with the rock anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which is one of the most downloaded songs on the internet.
The obligatory encore featured title track “Escape,” and the blues-infused “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”
Supergroup Asia, which features band members from Yes, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, opened the show and played all the hits, including “Only Time Will Tell,” which featured the band’s popular synthesized sounds, and the poppy “Don’t Cry.”
Asia closed its short set with the guitar-heavy “Heat of the Moment.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.