Live review: Journey and Heart @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre : Reverb Colorado

While popular culture’s fascination with attractive older women (couched in such terms as “cougar” and “MILF”) redefines the correlation between sex appeal and age, the audience at Tuesday night’s Heart and Journey show at Red Rocks was treated to a spectacular demonstration of how badassery is also possible — and perhaps even enhanced — in women over 40.

In their opening set for Journey, the Wilson Sisters took the stage with Nancy playing off the between-set recorded music (the last riff of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”) into the explosive opening chords of “Barracuda.” With a strong, vital lineup featuring erstwhile Chris Cornell bassist Rick Markmann, a pigtailed Debbie Shair on the keys, L.A. indie darling guitarist Craig Bartock and drummer Ben Smith of the Lovemongers, Heart managed to do what so few rockers with more than three decades of tour experience can claim. They sound better than they did at their ’70s heyday.

Ann’s voice is richer than ever, Nancy’s guitar even more astonishingly expert. Nancy jumps, headbangs, bounces and kicks her way through the “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man,” while Ann wails and coos through the rest. Two covers: one of the Who’s “Love, Reign O’er Me” and Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” showed the band’s perennial range and the raw talent of their newer members. While anvil clouds on the horizon turned from pink to violet, Heart played Red Rocks into the twilight with a stunning opening set.

After dark, the Red Rocks stage became illuminated with bright blue searchlights, and the crowd (which had seemingly tripled in size since the end of Heart’s show) swelled in screaming anticipation. Then, an opening riff that could only mean one thing: “Separate Ways.”

Much has been made of the fact that the newest lead vocalist for Journey is a cover band frontman from the Phillipines, a lucky man whose YouTube videos caught the eye of guitarist Neal Schon. But I will say this for sure — Arnel Pineda has all the right energy and all the right pipes for his new gig as Journey’s lead singer. The voice is dead-on Steve Perry — from the quivering vibrato of “Lights” to the grandiose swells of “Wheel in the Sky.” And the crowd must have agreed; curling into the arms of their significant others to the power-ballad sweetness of “Faithfully” and “Open Arms,” and compulsively pumping their fists into the air for “Anyway You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believin.”

via Live review: Journey and Heart @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre : Reverb Colorado.

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