Journey dazzles and delights the large crowd at the HOF Fest stadium
CANTON — As Journey’s lead singer gently sang the chorus of the group’s mega hit, “Fiathfully,” it felt like the perfect summertime in Canton during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival.
Most of the spectators near capacity joined them to sing in chorus, the crowd becoming a massive choir at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Couples were hugging and rocking back and forth. Arms and hands moved in unison. Cell phones were lifted to record videos.
And there were many more moments like this on Saturday night as Journey lived up to the name of the festival’s annual spectacle – the Concert for Legends
Although some band members have changed and another lead singer now leads the pop rock juggernaut, fans haven’t seemed to notice a difference. And the band was sound on point throughout the nearly two-hour performance.
Founding member and guitar ace Neal Schon played famous licks of famous songs. As he did, Schon smiled frequently, making eye contact with excited fans near the stage. Singer Arnel Pineda also often smiled while gesturing or pointing at the crowd.
Along with engaging with the crowd and calling Canton by name on multiple occasions, Pineda was vocally impeccable, hitting high-rise notes with ease and humming softly during ballads.
Journey has released a reliable parade of smash hits: “Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Open Arms”, “Lovin”, “Touchin'”, “Squeezin'”, “Who’s Crying Now” and many more.
Donnie Iris and the Cruisers kicked off the Concert for Legends with great passion before Journey took the stage at around 9 p.m.
Iris, 79, sang lyrics while her bandmates kept the energy going with powerful guitars and percussion complemented by keyboards.
Iris simply defied age with her high pitched screams, vocal harmonies and occasional guitar shredding.
The band played many of their signature songs dating back to their heyday in the early 1980s. The band’s biggest hits drew enthusiastic responses – “Ah! Leah!” and “Love is like a rock”.
The Concert for Legends was presented by the Hall of Fame Village.
The concert capped off a busy day of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Festival, which began with the Grand Township Depot Parade, followed by the Induction Ceremony for the Class of 2022 inductees: Tony Boselli, Cliff Branch, LeRoy Butler, Art McNally, Sam Mills, Richard Seymour, Dick Vermeil and Bryant Young.
Playing with Iris were guitarist Marty Lee Hoenes, from North Canton; keyboardist Mark Avsec, from Cleveland; drummer Kevin Valentine; and bassist Paul Goll.
After achieving chart success and touring nationally, including opening for Foreigner, Hall & Oats, Loverboy, Bon Jovi, Joan Jett and Bon Jovi, Donnie Iris and the Cruisers play approximately 10 shows a year in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Iris is originally from Pennsylvania and lives in the Pittsburgh area.
Journey playing a parade of 80s hits and a new song, “Let It Rain”
Journey boasted even more hits, including a host of songs from the 1981 release, “Escape”, 1983’s “Frontier” and the 1986 album, “Raised on Radio”.
Recent gigs have included the Soaring Eagle Casino in Michigan on Friday and an appearance in Lubbock, Texas on July 30 at United Supermarkets Arena.
Journey also performed the song “Let It Rain” from their recently released new album, “Freedom”, the band’s first since 2011’s “Eclipse”.
Arnel Pineda is an energetic leader who can hit all the high notes
Touring band members include Jonathan Cain (keyboards and backing vocals), who joined Journey in 1980.
This marked a return to northeast Ohio for Journey, which performed in May at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.
Formed in the early 1970s, the group has sold over 100 million records, including two albums that individually exceeded 10 million in sales.
Journey was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
Former lead singer Steve Perry has not been with the band since its second stint in the 1990s. Perry served as frontman during the heyday and commercial zenith of Journey, which included a slew of songs by Billboard.
Perry last released a solo album in 2018, “Traces,” his first since 1994’s “For the Love of Strange Medicine.”
Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected]
On Twitter @ebalintREP