When Journey released their classic hit "Don't Stop Believing" in 1981, they had no idea that it would be a metaphor for their sold-out performance Saturday night at Casino del Sol's AVA.
Hours before Journey took the stage, there was a feeling in the air that this would truly be a unique night. For instance, Casino del Sol ran out of parking spaces by the time the crowd was allowed into the venue. Next, the majority of fans in lower reserved seating crammed their way onto the security railing as if they were at a general-admission show at the Rialto Theatre for openers Cheap Trick.
And this all happened before the storm hit.
Journey took the stage with their new single "Never Walk Away," kicking off one of Tucson's most memorable recent concerts. New singer Arnel Pineda, who was discovered by singing Journey songs on YouTube, surpassed all expectations while singing the band's hits as made famous by Steve Perry. Similar to Mark Wahlberg's character from the movie Rock Star, Pineda was like a kid in a candy store, performing some of classic rock's most recognizable songs.
During "Stone in Love," Tucson's infamous monsoon weather kicked into high gear, even drenching the fans who were covered by the roof. While the band performed another new song, "After All These Years," Journey's road crew frantically raced to cover the group's equipment as the storm picked up.
Following a guitar solo from Neal Schon, the band was pulled from the stage as lightning strikes hit close to the amphitheater. One of Journey's roadies informed the crowd that the show would be paused while the storm passed, reassuring the crowd that the band would wait as long as the crowd would to take the stage again.
An hour later, Journey returned to the stage to play a shortened six-song greatest-hits set. Cold and wet, the crowd rocked out harder than ever, with fists pounding into the air, singing every word to the remaining songs.
"Faithfully," the closing ballad, proved to be an odd, if bittersweet, end to the circumstances both the band and crowd endured during the previous two hours.
Who needs Steve Perry, anyway?