Review by: Janel Spiegel | Photography by:
Freedom Tour 2023
Saturday, February 4, 2023
The 50 Year Celebration Anniversary for Journey.
The “Wheel in the Sky” keeps turning.
It was brisk tonight with a beautiful moon in the sky. The cold didn’t stop people from coming to the PPL Center to see JOURNEY, and Toto. It is the 50-year anniversary celebration for JOURNEY. Imagine having a career and songs that still have a strong effect on people. Songs that move people in specific ways, or songs that have been part of life in some way.
The PPL Center was sold-out, and people were ready to sing. Toto was formed in 1977. Toto 2023 is Steve Lukather, Joseph Williams, John Pierce (Huey Lewis and The News), drummer Robert “Sput” Searight (Ghost-Note, Snoop Dogg), keyboardist/background vocalist Steve Maggiora, keyboardist Dominique “Xavier” Taplin (Prince, Ghost-Note), and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Warren Ham (Ringo Starr).
Toto has quite a few great songs and tonight they rocked the PPL Center. They changed a few song arrangements with help from Dominique “Xavier” Taplin. Steve Lakather talked about the incomparable keyboardist Dominique “Xavier” Taplin, while doing some of the band introductions. Taplin also collaborated with the legendary Prince. Toto’s music felt fresh, and vibrant with the arrangement changes that they made to the songs.
They played everything from “I’ll Supply the Love”, “Rosanna”, “With A Little Help From My Friends” (The Beatles cover), “Home of the Brave”, and of course, “Africa”.
Toto sounded incredible. Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather sounded great. The vocals were insane, when Joseph Williams was singing a few times, I thought of Meatloaf, he has that power in his voice that Meatloaf had. If you get a chance, go see ToTo.
Journey 2023 is made up of, lead guitarist Neal Schon, keyboards/backing vocals, Jonathan Cain, lead vocals Arnel Pineda, keyboards/vocals, Jason Derlatka, drums/vocals, Deen Castronovo, and on bass Todd Jesnsen. Neal Schon is a three-time Hall of Fame inductee: the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the Grammy Hall of Fame.
I must say it’s a difficult task to sing certain JOURNEY songs. Singer Arnel Pineda has the vocal ability, but I will say Steve Perry will forever be a once in a lifetime voice. Arnel Pineda put so much energy into the show, and he gave a lot of love to the crowd of adoring fans. Neal Schon was awesome. The crowd went wild as soon as Journey walked onto the stage.
I imagine it took some people back to high school, or back to being a kid. Music is powerful. I talked to so many people tonight. People who just wanted to “sing along” or “just have a blast”.
Journey started off with “Only the Young”, Neal Schon did an amazing guitar solo, they went right into “Don’t Stop Believin’” – I think it was a giant sing along. I’ve been to quite a few concerts at the PPL Center, and it was loud. The crowd was singing! SINGING!
If you remember “back in the day” when The Sopranos was on… The last episode to be exact, “Made in America”- I won’t ruin the ending if you haven’t seen it. They play the song, they play “Don’t Stop Believin’” at the end of the episode. “Don’t Stop Believin’” has been played in films, television shows, and everywhere else.
Journey also performed “Stone in Love”, “Lights”, “Let It Rain”, “Open Arms”, “Faithfully” (I think I melted.), “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart), and more. Journey was incredible. The energy of this concert was invigorating. The PPL Center staff was awesome, the stage crew worked fast to change the stage. The stage crews are incredible. They deserve so much credit and all the love to the stage crews. I’ve lost count of how many stage crews I’ve seen quickly change everything out for the bands.
PPL Center constantly out does itself. The Allentown Police Department was on hand as always to make sure everyone stayed safe. Shout out and a big thank you to PPL Center, and my awesome section of people. Every single was singing, and just having fun. We got a chance to forget about the nonsense of the day, work, any stress. All of us sang our hearts and souls out. I’m pretty sure the moon was listening. Thank you, Toto, for just rocking out and Journey for keeping that “Wheel in the Sky” moving.
Make sure to check out Journey’s official site and Toto’s official site for tour information. Also, you can stay up to date with what’s going on at the PPL Center on their site or social media.