Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2013, 9:33 am

Loverboy frontman loves reliving the '80s

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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

Photo: Submitted
Loverboy is comprised of, from left, Paul Dean, Matt Frenette, Mike Reno, Ken Sinnaeve and Doug Johnson.
Touring with Journey and Pat Benatar isn't "Almost Paradise" for Mike Reno of Loverboy. It is paradise.

The 58-year-old Canadian lead singer of his 1980s-era supergroup is having a blast on the current mega-tour, which is drawing a wide age range of fans and stops at Moline's i wireless Center this Wednesday (after being postponed from November).

"We're playing these huge places, and they're packed," Mr. Reno said in an interview last fall. "It's kind of amazing, I can't put my finger on it. I guess if you choose the right guys, that seems to be what this tour is. It's just been a great combination."

"I see a lot of the people in the crowds are good old age groups, around the same age as us, but there's an extraordinary amount of young people," he said. "It's the Internet, YouTube. With Pat Benatar, Journey, you can't stop these guys. A lot of it is kind of retro."

In particular, Journey (which first formed in 1973) is enjoying a resurgence with the massive popularity of "Don't Stop Believin'," its 1981 hit resurrected on TV in "The Sopranos" finale and "Glee" pilot. That band also has new life over the past five years, with lead singer Arnel Pineda, who is Filipino but does a dead-on Steve Perry impression (as well as several other singers), Mr. Reno said.

"He did something freaky out in Montana, at a big outdoor show. I just finished my set, and Arnel comes over to me, stands behind me and starts singing Loverboy's 'In Your Eyes.' It sounded just like me," he said, noting he also does a mean Nat King Cole and Bryan Adams. "The nice thing is, he's humble. He got adopted by the band."

"America was built by people coming from other countries. Arnel Pineda is the American dream," Mr. Reno said.

Formed 30-plus years ago in Calgary, Alberta, the high-energyLoverboy has sold more than 30 million albums, earning four multi-platinum plaques. The band hit it big from the start, and actually toured with Journey back in 1981, Mr. Reno recalled.

Loverboy recently released a new studio album, "Rock 'n' Roll Revival," featuring three new tracks, including "Heartbreaker" and "No Tomorrow," produced with their original engineer, Bob Rock (Metallica, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi). The CD includes live re-recordings of some of the band's greatest hits, like "Working for the Weekend," "Turn Me Loose," "Lovin' Every Minute of It," "The Kid Is Hot Tonight," "Queen of the Broken Hearts" and "Hot Girls in Love."

Unfortunately, fans on tour aren't much interested in hearing their new stuff, Mr. Reno said. "I can see their point," he said, noting fans nearly "piss their pants" when Loverboy roars through the hits. "You would think Iwould get tired of it, but I don't."

"I'm at my most comfortable when I'm standing on stage with a mic," he added. "I never get tired of it, never take it for granted."

Mr. Reno also is a huge fan of Ms. Benatar, whose own hits include "Heartbreaker," "Love Is a Battlefield," "We Are Young," and the popular closer, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." "Pat is singing great," he said.

Among Mr. Reno's pop hits are two '80s soundtrack favorites -- "Almost Paradise," with Heart's Ann Wilson on "Footloose" and "Heaven in Your Eyes" from "Top Gun."

"Anytime you do something for a movie, you never think it's one of the movies that'll be around for 30 years, put up as a national treasure," he said.

Loverboy has earned critical acclaim on the current tour as well. The Salt Lake Tribune said the boys "haven't lost much after decades of touring. Classics such as 'Turn Me Loose,' 'Hot Girls in Love' and 'The Kid is Hot Tonight' had an appreciative audience on its feet, singing along and showed Reno can still hit the high notes. But the final song, 'Working for the Weekend,' might have set the tone for the night. The audience had been working all week long and seemed ready to enjoy a night of good old '80s rock 'n' roll."

Kentucky's Scene and Heard noted: "The band was very tight, Paul Dean was excellent on guitar, his chords and solos are the driving force of the band."

And Minnesota's Pioneer Press enthused: "None of these three acts dabbles in camp, but instead plays the old hits as faithfully as possible. … Loverboy opened the show with a concise, seven-song set that found room for pretty much every hit. …The grandstand already was hopping when they ambled on shortly after 7 p.m., and lead singer Mike Reno seemed to feed off the energy."

For more information, visit loverboyband.com.


If you go


-- What: Journey, Loverboy and Pat Benatar
-- When: Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.
-- Where: i wireless Center, 1201 River Drive, Moline.
-- Tickets: $39.50, $55 and $75, available at LiveNation.com, ticketmaster.com, (800) 745-3000 and the i wireless Center box office.