West Valley City • "Salt Lake City, let's rock and roll," exhorted Loverboy lead singer Mike Reno as the Canadian band opened Friday night for Journey and Pat Benatar at Usana Amphitheatre.
And it was obvious that an appreciative crowd of over 10,000 was ready to do just that as they enjoyed a night of classic '80s music that proved age and familiarity hasn't dimmed the three act's talents.
Journey was the obvious headliner and the only act that used video and much better lighting effects. But it would be difficult to say the power balladeers stole the show on a rare night when any of the three acts could have headlined its own show.
Lead singer Arnel Pineda, discovered on a YouTube video when Journey needed a new front man in 2007, seems to have given an energy boost to the band that defines power ballad.
The native of the Philippines can sell a song and has become one of the best in the business. He seldom quits moving on the stage, leaping, spinning and exhorting the crowd to sing along, which it gleefully did.
Some of Journey's songs might sound a bit the same, but there is no denying that they are fun to sing or the power of the group's live show. With lead guitarist Neil Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain capable of dramatic musical feats, including Schon's version of the "Star Spangled Banner," the band is a perfect act for a big arena.
Though hits such as "Wheel in the Sky" and "Any Way You Want It" are guaranteed to bring the audience to its feet, I liked the slightly slower "Lights," where Pineda asked fans to turn on their cellphones to create a dazzling starlight effect.
And the newer "City of Hope," written about Pineda's home town of Manila had a nice feel to it.
By the time Journey performed "Don't Stop Believing" and "Separate Ways," the crowd knew it had enjoyed over three hours of great music provided by three class acts.
Benatar, accompanied by husband of 30 years Neil Giraldo on guitar and piano, might be approaching 60, but she sounded and looked great while rocking through a nine-song set that included hits such as "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Invincible" and "You Better Run."
"We Belong," which began as a ballad with Giraldo on piano, might have been the emotional high point.
But Benatar's final song, a combination of "Heartbreaker" and Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire," though sung at a much higher octave, ended the set on an unusual high point.
Loverboy kicked things off with an all-too-short seven song set. The Canadian rock band and lead singer Reno haven't lost much after decades of touring. It was a testament to the band's popularity that the crowd made an effort to brave Friday night traffic and get to the show on time.
Classics such as "Turn Me Loose," "Hot Girls in Love" and "The Kid Is Hot Tonite" had an appreciative audience on its feet, singing along and showed that Reno can still hit the high notes.
But the final song, "Working for the Weekend," might have set the tone for the night. The audience had been working all week long and seemed ready to enjoy a night of good old '80s rock 'n' roll. And Loverboy, Pat Benatar and Journey delivered an upbeat performance that was simply entertaining.
R With Pat Benatar and Loverboy
Where • Usana Amphitheatre, West Valley City.
When • Friday.
Bottom Line •Loverboy, Pat Benatar and headliner Journey kept fans dancing in the aisles and singing much of the night.