'Like a time warp': Journey, Loverboy come full circle 30 years after huge tour together

It will be like old times when Loverboy takes the stage with Journey for a series of summer shows this year, beginning Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Paso Robles, California. Old, very good times.

Thirty years ago, the two bands toured together when both were riding monster albums, and hit singles. Journey has just released Escape, which went nine-times platinum — the band’s best-selling non-greatest hits album ever– on the strength of four Top 20 hits in “Don’t Stop Believin,’” “Who’s Crying Now,” “Still They Ride,” and “Open Arms.” Loverboy, meanwhile, was riding high with the four-times platinum Get Lucky, featuring the hits “Working for the Weekend,” “When It’s Over” and “Lucky Ones.”

Fast forward to 2012, and Loverboy and Journey are back on stage — this time with Pat Benatar, featuring Neil Giraldo. (A complete list of tour dates and venues is below.)

Loverboy features all of its surviving original members, including guitarist Peal Dean, drummer Matt Frenette, keyboardist Doug Johnson and vocalist Mike Reno. (Ken Sinnaeve replaced the late bassist Scott Smith.) Three of Journey’s current members — Schon, bassist Ross Valory and keyboardist Jonathan Cain — were also part of the tour 30 years ago with Loverboy.

It remains as memorable for Reno today as it was back then.

“We both had songs the top 10,” Reno tells Noise Creep. “They had the Escape album out and we had the Get Lucky album out. The Escape album was their biggest album ever and Get Lucky was our biggest album ever. So that was a tour and a half.

Both bands have also returned to music that strongly recalls their early-1980s heydays.

Loverboy is prepping a new album called Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival, due on August 14, 2012, that blends nine live versions of some of their most recognizable songs (among them “Working for the Weekend,” “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It,” “Turn Me Loose,” “Hot Girls in Love,” “When It’s Over”) with three new tracks. Two of the studio cuts were produced by Bob Rock, engineer for Loverboy between 1980-87, a period that included the band’s self-titled 1980 debut, Get Lucky, Keep It Up and Wildside.

Meanwhile, Journey’s 2011 effort Eclipse refocused the group’s sound on the furiously inventive guitar playing of co-founder Neal Schon — something that propelled the band’s second album with frontman Arnel Pineda to No. 13 on the Billboard 200. Eclipse also was a Top 40 hit in five different countries — including Sweden (No. 14), Japan (No. 18), Switzerland (No. 24) and the UK (No. 33).

To come full circle on stage too is only appropriate, Reno adds.

“People still talk to me about the time they saw us together because it was a co-headlining type deal because everybody was totally into both bands,” Reno says. “What a fun tour. I remember like it was yesterday — so this is going to be the same, except 30 year later. It’s kind of like a time warp. It’s like ‘Outer Limits.’”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Journey. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

NEAL SCHON WITH STEVE SMITH, “THE CALLING” (2012): This new instrumental is interesting because Steve Smith showed up just as Journey took a turn in the late 1970s from its more fusion-informed early period toward a platinum-selling arena-rock formula. Still, you always got the sense, as he subsequently moved deeper into the jazz roots of his youth, that Smith might have been a better fit for the early Journey records — when co-founding guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist Gregg Rolie and bassist Ross Valory indulged themselves in a looser, free-form rock amalgam. “The Calling” makes good on that notion, as Smith joins Schon for the first time since their mid-1990s reunion as members of Journey.

JOURNEY – ECLIPSE (2011): In many ways, the initial cuts on Eclipse recall the wide-open heavy fusion of the the band’s original Gregg Rolie-era records, a period when guitarist Neal Schon pulled and stretched his muse. At the same time, singer Arnel Pineda possesses a second-act Steve Perry-sounding penchant for soaring expectancy. For age-old fans, that often makes this album the best of both worlds, a musically dense recording in the style of the band’s underrated 1977?s Next, and a loud one, but at the same time one that doesn’t completely abandon the visceral mainstream pop sensibilities that defined the band’s subsequent hitmaking period in the 1980s.

ONE TRACK MIND: JOURNEY, “FEELING THAT WAY/ ANYTIME” (1978; 2011 reissue): A new Greatest Hits Vol. 2 was, in some ways, more interesting than Journey’s initial best-of compilation — if only because its songs haven’t necessarily become ear-wormingly familiar. Perhaps the most potent examples are these twin 1978 gems from Infinity, Journey’s first project with Steve Perry. His appearance would immediately transform an interesting, if often unfocused jam band — co-led by Santana alums Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon — into a hit-making juggernaut. This album easily became the band’s biggest seller to date, as Journey moved toward a tighter focus on songcraft.

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: GREGG ROLIE, FOUNDING MEMBER OF SANTANA AND JOURNEY: Gregg Rolie, a 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has learned a lot about himself since taking fame’s exit ramp to start a family almost 30 years ago. He’s put into perspective the work done as a founding member of Santana, a stint that saw Rolie co-produce the group’s first four albums beginning in 1969. The bluesy B-3 stylist then added to an overstuffed resume that already included an appearance at Woodstock, leaving with Neal Schon to launch Journey. There, he helped craft a series of 1970s recordings that set the stage for that band’s arena-rock supernova moment in the 1980s.

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Here are the dates for the tour with Loverboy, Journey and Pat Benatar:

JULY
24 Paso Robles, CA Pasa Robles Fair
26 Cheyenne, WY Frontier Days
28 Seattle, WA The Gorge
29 Spokane, WA Northern Quest Casino

AUGUST
1 Great Falls, MT Montana State Fair
3 Salt Lake City, UT USANA Amphitheatre
4 Boise, ID Idaho Center
6 Sturgis, SD Buffalo Chip Campground
8 Indianapolis, IN Indiana State Fair
10 Wantagh, NY Nikon Theater At Jones Beach
14 Watertown, NY Watertown Fairgrounds
15 Canandaigua, NY Constellations Brands PAC
17 Louisville, KY Kentucky State Fair
18 Des Moines, IA Iowa State Fair
22 Albuquerque, NM Sandia Outdoor Theater
24 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
25 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
27 Pelham, AL Oak Mountain Amphitheater
28 Lafayette, LA Cajun Dome
31 Kansas City, KS LiveStrong Sporting Park

SEPTEMBER
1 St. Paul, MN Minnesota State Fair
15 Mt. Pleasant, MI Soaring Eagle Casino
19 Peoria, IL Peoria Civic Center
21 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
22 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center
25 Hamilton, ON Copps Coliseum
26 Ottawa, ON Scotiabank Place
28 Bangor, ME Waterfront Park
29 Providence, RI Dunkin Donuts Center

OCTOBER
2 Norfolk, VA Constant Convocation Center
3 Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
5 Mobile, AL Bayfest
6 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheater At Lakewood
9 Little Rock, AR Verizon Arena
10 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
12 Tampa, FL 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater
13 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
30 New York, NY Barclays Bank Arena

NOVEMBER
2 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
3 Manchester, NH Verizon Center
5 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
7 Columbus, OH Schottenstein/Nationwide
8 Evansville, IN Ford Center
10 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
11 Fort Wayne, IN Allen County War Memorial
13 Moline, IL iWireless Center
14 Sioux City, IA Tyson Center
16 Milwaukee, WI Bradley Center
17 Green Bay, WI Resch Center
19 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre
24 Grand Praire, AB Crystal Center
27 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place
28 Saskatoon, SK Credit Union Centre
30 Calgary, AB Scotiabank Saddledome

DECEMBER
1 Kelowna, BC Prospera Place
3 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
4 Victoria, BC Save-On Food Centre
7 Las Vegas, NV Planet Hollywood

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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