Monday, March 16, 2009

Concert Review: Journey At Mall of Asia, Manila, March 14, 2009

Journey stays true to their roots in their first concert in Manila with new singer Arnel Pineda

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by Clarence Yu

All roads led to the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) fair grounds as Manila’s mostly upper crust and middle class crowd witnessed rock band Journey’s first Asian date in support of their Revelation album.

An announcer mentioned to the audience that the concert was being filmed for a special DVD and asked the crowd to perform two cheers for filming purposes.

Led by native son Arnel Pineda on vocals, the band took the stage at approximately 8:50 pm and erupted into "Never Walk Away" off the Revelation album with all cylinders firing, followed by "Only The Young," a sufficient one-two salvo to keep the crowd on its' feet.

The legendary rockers mixed the old with the new. Instead of trying to please the crowd with a potential wall to wall greatest hits concert, the band admirably dug deep into their newest release, with songs like the rockers "Change For The Better," "Where Did I Lose Your Love," and the tear-jerking ballad "After All These Years," intermixed with old gems like "Ask The Lonely," "Stone In Love," and the ever crowd rousing "Separate Ways." This brought the crowd on and off their feet; for every hit like "Open Arms," which had everyone screaming, there was a "Wildest Dream" which kind of flew over the audience's heads.

No matter. The sound was all-professional, solid, and tight.

The band also added new bits into their old songs. "Separate Ways" had an interlude during Neal Schon's blistering solo, and "Wheel In The Sky" began with Jonathan Cain on harmonica and Schon on acoustic in a country-honky tonk jam. Bassist Ross Valory was cool and collected, holding down the bottom end while entertaining the audience with his comical facial expressions.

Drummer Dean Castronovo sang lead vocals on several songs, the most impressive being "Mother Father" off the Escape album. Castronovo proves not only to be a great drummer but an excellent singer as well.

Finally, lead vocalist Arnel Pineda was a ball of fire throughout the whole show, jumping all over the stage and hitting all the high notes with his more than apt voice. Confident and equipped with the obligatory arena rock star charisma and moves, Pineda was visibly charged and emotional in his first concert with Journey in his native land, and dedicated the 1996 ballad "When You Love A Woman" to "all the women out there" and "to my wife."

Understandably, though most of the crowd was there to see Mr. Pineda, Journey proved that collectively they are still a serious band to be reckoned with. This was no sentimental tour. Albeit boring the crowd somewhat with their new songs, the band showed no compromise, proving in the end that they are still firmly entrenched in their roots and are looking forward to a longer career ahead of them.

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