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Review: Pat Benatar stole spotlight, took Columbus audience back to the ’80s with Journey, Loverboy

Tim Kubick / For The Lantern

For a brief moment Wednesday night I closed my eyes and felt as though I had been taken back to the ’80s. As I wasn’t born in that decade, and to my knowledge, time travel still hasn’t been invented, I didn’t really have anything to compare the feeling to,

Journey’s concert at Nationwide Arena could’ve fooled me though, along with probably the rest of the fully packed crowd at the show, which also featured performances from Pat Benatar and Loverboy.

“I can almost guarantee you sang this song at karaoke, or definitely the hairbrush in the mirror thing,” said Benatar before performing her hit song “We Belong.”

Benatar and her three-piece band, including her husband of 30 years, Neil “Spyder” Giraldo, might not have been the concert’s headliner, but for me they hands-down stole the show.

Showcasing a nearly flawless performance, which included songs such as “Love Is A Battlefield,” “You Better Run,” “Invincible” and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Benatar’s roughly nine-song set proved her incredible vocals and passionate attitude haven’t given out.

Benatar’s encore, however, which was a mash-up of “Heartbreaker” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” was the highlight of the night, proving that not only does Giraldo create magic on the guitar and piano, but that he and his wife deserve to still be touring.

Journey took the stage at about 9:45 p.m., opening with “Any Way You Want It.” The group continued its set with hits such as “Anytime,” “Wheel In The Sky” and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which ended in an array of confetti bursting around the arena.

The band also played a couple of songs from its 2011 album “Eclipse,” such as “City Of Hope” and “Resonate.”

Although I am 100 percent team Steve Perry, former frontman of Journey, I must admit current lead vocalist Arnel Pineda’s vocals were spot on with his performance, especially for songs “Faithfully,” “Lights” and “Open Arms.”

With Pineda’s evident enthusiasm, he clearly had more energy than any other performer onstage that night. And with founding member and guitarist Neal Schon’s talent, it wasn’t difficult to forget you were listening to a transformed lineup.

Journey ended its roughly one-hour-and-40-minute set with “Separate Ways” before returning to the stage for an encore, singing “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.” Prior to the band leaving the stage for the final time, most in the crowd were waving their arms back and forth singing “Na na na na na na.”

Loverboy opened the concert for Benatar and Journey shortly after 7:30 p.m., playing songs such as “Hot Girls in Love,” “Lovin’ Every Minute of It,” and “Working For The Weekend.”

“This is the kind of song, as soon as you hear the intro, you’re gonna remember where you were, who you were with and exactly what you were up to,” said frontman Mike Reno before singing “When It’s Over.”

The not-so-full-yet arena seemed to enjoy the performance, but I was slightly concerned because Reno didn’t move much from one spot, even through the band’s more lively songs.

But what could I have expected? These guys are years out of their prime.

Benatar acknowledged this at one point during her set saying, “This is the part of the show where we sit down ’cause we’re old.”

I didn’t mind though, and it didn’t seem the rest of the audience did either. We were too busy in our musical time warp, indulging in a night of pure nostalgia.

Furthermore, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself when the lead vocalist of an extremely classic band is running around onstage in a full leather outfit, high-fiving fans and scissor kicking off amps, all while singing your favorite jukebox songs.

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