by: Annette Higby / BackStage360
After another extremely fast and efficient stage equipment change, Journey began their first night of the 2012 Journey/Pat Benatar/Loverboy concert at the San Manuel Amphitheater in hot San Bernardino, California, with an introduction of “Majestic” followed by “Never Walk Away”. The back drop of the amphitheater stage was a stage-wide LED screen of rapidly changing and colorful light images, beginning with what looked like flames. The back drop kept changing with the different songs. They continued with the next song, “Ask the Lonely” followed by “After All These Years”. Arnel’s vocals were clear and strong and the light show on stage was dramatic.
Journey continued with their hit “Only the Young” with Arnel displaying high energy and getting the crowd to sing along. In the next song “Faith in the Heartland”, Arnel continued with engaging the crowd, slapping hands and whipping up the excitement. When “Faithfully” started with the piano and vocals, the call for lights went out and the audience participated by holding up their phones, instead of lighters as in days of old, while singing along. Looking back and all around, it was a sea of sparkling lights.
Neal Schon, founder of Journey in 1973 and said to be the greatest guitarist of his time, played a riveting solo guitar segue into “Stone in Love” followed by “Where Did I Lose Your Love”. When “Lights” was performed, the lit-up backdrop showed a continuous stream of city skylines. One of their new songs on their “Eclipse” album initially released in the Phillipines in 2011, “City of Hope” was dedicated to San Bernardino and showed moving maps on the backdrop, highlighting the Phillipines area of the world in honor of Arnel’s birthplace. This song was partially written in the Phillipines and the video of this same name briefly relates Arnel’s journey from obscurity to stardom as Journey’s current front man. Arnel has been with the band for five years.
Neal Schon then performed another guitar segue followed by their classic hit “Wheel In the Sky” with Jonathon Cain contributing his talent on the harmonica and then continued with “Escape”. Jonathon then returned to his piano for a stirring solo piano segue. This was followed by the songs “Open Arms”, “Separate Ways”, “Be Good to Yourself” and finally, “Loving, Touching, Squeezing” which had the crowd roaring their participation.
Journey left the stage but returned for their encore of two of their greatest hits, “Anyway You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believing”. The concert ended with a huge blast of white confetti shot out into the crowd that flew way out past the soundboard. It was easy to see (and hear) why Journey has been around (and on top) for so long, as hit after hit rolled off the stage, mostly classic hits but some new songs as well. The large crowd was happy and enthusiastic throughout the concert, with all of us on our feet the entire time.
The singer, Arnel Pineda, sounded eerily exactly like original lead singer, Steve Perry, when he sang the classic hits, yet took on his own unique sound when performing the new songs. Journey was lucky to have found Arnel, and not too surprisingly was found on YouTube. Arnel Pineda hails from the Phillipines and although he took a circuitous route to stardom, there is no question whatsoever about his innate talent and incredible imitation of Steve Perry’s sound.
The band members include Arnel Pineda, lead vocals; Neal Schon on lead guitar; Ross Valory on bass guitar; Jonathon Cain on the keyboards; and Dean Castronovo on the drums.
The 2012 Summer Tour with Pat Benatar/Neil Giraldo and Loverboy will continue through December of this year as more than sixty shows are scheduled all across the country and up into Canada. Journey has added a concert in Baltimore to benefit the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey!” is a documentary on Arnel Pineda’s life story and early struggles. It was released at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2012, and also at the San Francisco International Film Festival on May 3, 2012. Their “Greatest Hits Volume 2” was released September 16, 2011. This album includes hits spanning the years from 1978 to 1996. It was released on vinyl, as a CD and digitally. Journey received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.