Nostalgia Hits the Gila River Arena by Force

It was a hot and unusually warm day on April 9, 2022. The air was filled with exhilaration and eagerness. The moment you entered the Westgate Entertainment District the shirts hit you like a brick wall. Everyone was dawning Journey and Toto shirts. There was a small booth selling merch outside the venue and the line wrapped and zigzagged around the courtyard. People of all ages and generations could be seen waiting to enter the arena.

As soon as the doors opened everyone poured into the arena. They started finding their seats, grabbing more merch and beverages along the way. As everyone settled down a DJ began to play hits from the 80s, getting everyone in the mood. Soon the lights dimed and it was time for the show to start. Toto, a rock band formed in Los Angeles, took to the stage. The bands main lineup is made up of Steve Lukather-guitar/vocals, David Paich-keyboard/vocals, and Joseph Williams- vocals. Their touring members are John Pierce-bass, Robert “Sput” Searight- drums, Dominique “Xavier” Taplin- keyboards/vocals, Warren Ham- horns/vocals and Steve Maggiora- keyboards/vocals.

As they took to the stage the crowd cheered but remained in their seats as they began to play their first song, “Orphan”. Once the first song ended the band began to play “Hold the Line”. As soon as the first notes rang out the crowd jumped up from their seats because they knew what song was coming, their cheering grew louder and louder and they even sang along. The highlight of their set was when Lukather told the crowd that he had been friends for 45 years with Jonathan Cain and Neil Schon of Journey.

He then announced “Here’s something you don’t know. My son, Trev, is getting married to John Cain’s daughter, Maddie!” He then dedicated the song “I’ll Be Over You” to all the young lovers out there. All in all their set was truly engaging and the crowd could be heard singing along to every single song. They ended their set with their most popular song “Africa”.

Toto Setlist:

  1. Orphan
  2. Hold the Line
  3. I’ll Be Over You
  4. White Sister
  5. I Won’t Hold You Back
  6. Georgy Porgy
  7. Home of the Brave
  8. With a Little Help From My Friends(The Beatles cover)
  9. Rosanna
  10. Africa

As Toto left the stage the crowd was even more eager to see Journey. As the intermission was ending the house lights dimmed and the stage lights began to brighten. A red shinny Piano was sitting on the stage and it was finally time! Journey came out onto the stage and the crowd went absolutely bananas! Journey is a San Francisco band that formed in 1973. The current lineup includes Neil Schon- guitar/vocals (1973-87, 1991, 1995-present), Jonathan Cain-keyboards/vocals/guitar (1980-87,1991, 1995-present), Dean Castronovo- drums/vocals (1998-2015,2021-present),  Arnel Pineda -vocals (2007-present), and Jason Derlatka- keyboards/vocals (2020-present). Journey has seen many beloved members come and go over the years, the most notorious and loved, Steve Perry. Pineda does a great job leading Journey.

He has huge shoes to fill but accomplishes this on and off the stage. He engages with crowd, pointing the microphone to them and encouraging them to song along with him. He runs from one side of the stage to the other, keeping the energy alive and moving. They opened their set with some of the most popular songs. The biggest song was “Don’t Stop Believing”, this hit is always guaranteed to draw the crowd in. The moment the song began the crowd could be heard singing along to every word, not missing one beat. The look on the faces of the audience was pure happiness. You could see them flashing back to memory lane. Cruising the streets in high school, hitting up their local watering hole and first kisses. Pineda eventually leaves the stage and Castronovo takes over by singing “Mother, Father” while playing the drums.

He honestly did an amazing job. He hit this song perfectly, it was almost as if he had a direct connection to the song. You could feel the emotion in your bones when he sang. The crowd was then again graced by Pineda with another classic “ Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”. As the song ends Cain takes to the microphone, he says “Good people of Arizona, how does it feel to be back?! We missed you guys!” there is a pause and then he continues “… you pay a price to love your life on the road and there’s other people who pay that sacrifice. The men and women in the armed forces, so let’s sing this for them as a prayer to keep them out of harm’s way.” Cain then begins to play the notes that then into their song “Faithfully”. In between some of the songs the crowd was able to get an amazing taste of solos by Schon and Cain.

These solos were very reminiscent of shows in the 80s where these intricate solos somehow meshed right into the next song, creating the perfect Transition.  Journey ends their set with another strongly popular song “Anyway You Want It”. After their set the whole bands emerges from behind their instruments and introduce each other while they throw extra pics and drum sticks to the crowd. They did not play  encore, this was a missed opportunity to play another hit of theirs “The Party’s Over (Hopelessly In Love)”

 One person could be overheard saying how she felt like she was in middle school again. Being able to experience the bands that she grew up brought back memories of happy and simpler times. People were able to make new memories and share this experience with their children, significant others and friends. Overall the night was magical to put it simply.

Journey Set List:

  1. Only the Young
  2. Stone in Love
  3. Don’t Stop Believin’
  4. Lights
  5. Send Her My Love
  6. Escape
  7. Dead or Alive
  8. Who’s Crying Now
  9. Mother, Father (Deen Castronovo on lead vocals)
  10. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
  11. Jonathan Cain Piano Solo
  12. Open Arms
  13. Faithfully
  14. Girl Can’t Help It (Jason Derlatka on lead vocals)
  15. Neal Schon Guitar Solo
  16. Wheel in the Sky
  17. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
  18. Be Good to Yourself
  19. Any Way You Want It

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Gila River Arena
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