Sunday, July 13, 2008

JOURNEY Rocks on with REVELATION Tour - CD/DVD Top 10 on Billboard's Charts

By Jay Fermin
Photos by Valerie Nerres Photography

Los Angeles: The legendary rock concert of the summer is definitely none other than JOURNEY with new lead singer Arnel Pineda. Since kicking off their REVELATION tour on U.S. soil in Denver, Colorado last July 9 and working their way thru the West Coast promoting their new CD / DVD REVELATION, and after a June whirlwind European run which kicked off in Madrid Spain and included shows in Germany, The Netherlands, England, Wales, and Ireland, now Journey comes home to the U.S. with concerts scheduled in San Diego’s Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, Verizon Amphitheatre in Irvine (PW will cover this show July 16), Mandalay Bay Arena in Vegas and on towards the east touring the rest of the country with 55 shows playing to more than a million ticket holders.

Journey created quit a stir in the rock and roll world when in December 5, 2007, Neal Schon (lead guitarist) announced that they have the perfect replacement as the band’s lead singer in Arnel Pineda, whom Neal discovered thru viewing uploaded videos on YouTube. Arnel Pineda who hails from the Philippines, is proving to be the perfect vocals exhibiting great collaboration with the rest of the band members, namely Neal Schon (all guitars, backing vocals), Jonathan Cain (keyboards, backing vocals), Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals), and Deen Castronovo (drums, percussion, backing vocals). With Arnel’s vocals and outstanding stage moves, early reports from JOURNEY fan sites on the REVELATIONS tour and CD / DVD have been very encouraging and have given Journey a very promising rebirth. They are ready for the future.

Arnel stated in a recent interview that “It’s so exciting to sing with one of the best bands in the world. It will be a lot of hard work on my part and I’m actually looking forward to the scrutiny I’ll be getting from the hardcore JOURNEY fans. I know they ‘ll expect me to sound exactly like ‘the voice’ (alluding to Journey’s former lead singer Steve Perry who left the band in 1998), but that will never happen. I know there’s only one Steve Perry in this world.” Checking the comments on the forum of JOURNEY fan sites, it looks like Arnel has slowly earned their respect, with a voice that is distinctly still Arnel, and the sound purely true JOURNEY whom most of us have grown up with.

Amid the countless article coverage of Arnel’s fantastic voyage from a small band in the Philippines to now the lead singer of JOURNEY in magazines, TV, newspapers, and the web, what matters most is still the music. With REVELATION CD / DVD (Released June 3, 2008) enjoying top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart since its release five weeks ago (Billboard Top #5 with 105,000 units sold on debut week), the three disk CD / DVD package is slowly becoming a promising Platinum album (RIAA ranking of 1 Million sold).

REVELATION spins off JOURNEY into another era of their signature massive concert touring, entering almost three and a half decade of classic rock. REVELATION CD / DVD is a compilation of 11 new songs mostly written by Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon, accompanied by 11 classic favorites on an accompanying CD, and a concert DVD. A new song entitled “Never Walk Away” (which came out as a CD single in Europe) blends the rhythmic vocals of Arnel and the classic heart-pounding drum sequence and soft lead of Neal Schon, reminiscent of the 80’s but places a stake in a new JOURNEY of the future. It has a beautiful melody and a very catchy chorus which for sure will be another popular audience sing-along piece. Slowing down for “Like a Sunshower”, Schon’s guitar lends a light and breezy feel, almost like a misty bar atmosphere reminiscing of a loved one and a stormy relationship most fans can relate to. Jonathan’s piano sets the mood and could be popular after a few times of listening.

Neal’s intro pluck of the upbeat “Change For the Better” brings the classic melodic chorus of the band and preaches to all of the need for change, the possibility of purpose. Excellent drum transitions by Deen waves the message of the song. Arnel’s vocals proclaims the lyrics of a new day for the better and proceed with more excellent guitar and fast paced bass combination by Ross Valory. The lyrics and melody of the chorus has the capacity to stay with you for days.

Perception and questions urgently collide in the savvy but hip and rocking ” Wildest Dreams” which is sure to become another anthem song of JOURNEY. The song is perfect for stage interaction between Arnel’s stage showmanship and Neal’s wireless strut of his guitars. This song will be a perfect performance act complete for the now well known Arnel jump-off from the drums platform!

“Faith In The Heartland” is a ferocious proclamation of being a proud working American that you can almost feel red, white and blue throughout the melody with Schon’s guitar lead flying like fireworks. “Give me something to believe in” Arnel sings, with a splendid almost melancholic jazz keyboard play by Jonathan while Schon squeezes some more out of the song. Originally released on the ‘GENERATIONS’ cd, this rendition is a little more stronger with the awesome magic of Journey’s producer, engineer, and mixer Kevin Shirley which made sure that the music must not only sound good but also feel good.

Jonathan’s classic keyboard intro and Arnel’s sharp voice sweetly brings out the emotion on the what will be the next wedding dj / radio favorite of the decade, “After All These Years.” The song relates the memories of raising a family, of how a partner in life stood tall in his absence. Neal’s guitar lets out an almost melancholic cry; a sure favorite with the ladies. (It could be a tear jerker in the realm of ‘Loved By You’ on the Arrival album). JOURNEY has a sure hit in the bag with this one.

Deen Castronovo leads the pack as he beat up the drum on “Where Did I Lose Your Love”. Arnel’s appeal to the refrain, almost lost in Deen’s superb drum beat and Jonathan’s dash of play on the keyboards with the high pitched lead guitar of Neal stirs up the emotion of the question: ‘how can I make you stay?’. Truly an amazing heartbreak song with a splendid piano and drum combination on the tail-end. The blitz attack of the drums leads into a quick fade out. Truly a superb huge sounding track.

“What I Needed”: A classic ballad spiced with jazzy percussion , the lyrics is sure to fire up lost emotions, and an almost Santana like lead by Schon cries for approval (Neal Schon played with the Carlos Santana Band in the 70s). Arnel’s vocals is perfect for the song and the Jonathan’s piano piece completed by Schon’s guitar play is by far the best among the new songs.

A rock band won’t be respected without revealing the deeper longing. JOURNEY captures the emotion with excellent vocals on the song “Turn Down the World Tonight”. The lyrics invites to withdraw from the business of life and spend quiet moments: ‘help me turn down the world tonight / take a quiet moment somewhere we can unwind / losing touch we forget to take time to share what’s in our hearts and speak what’s on our minds’. Definitely, Neal’s reverved lead moves up the emotion of the lyrics. Another JOURNEY new hit for sure.

“The Journey (REVELATION)” showcases the strings of Neal in a heavily synthesized instrumental piece (remember Boston, Styx, Led Zep?) which captures the new while bridging the old. Astral melodic tune which transcends the chords. This is a long awaited piece and stamps approval on the new era of JOURNEY. Superbly executed and mixed.

The awesome collection of the 11 new songs (12 in Europe release) is complimented by a second CD of Arnels rendition of favorite and timeless JOURNEY classics including: ‘Only the Young, Don’t Stop Believing, Wheel in the Sky, Faithfully, Any Way You Want It, Who’s Crying Now, Separate Ways, Lights, Open Arms, Be Good to Yourself (vocals by Deen Castronovo), and Stone In Love.’ Timeless Journey songs with an Arnel signature. These songs you can almost be certain, is being played somewhere in the world at any given time. These are the legendary and timeless anthem songs that made JOURNEY.

Accompanying the 2 CD set is a DVD of the concert on March 18 at Planet Hollywood La Vegas. It features a repertoire of 14 songs with splendid revival choreagraphic stage moves including Arnel’s energetic leap from the drums riser. However, early reports from JOURNEY fan sites have been drumbeating how Arnel is more energetic and exhibit greater showmanship on the concert road. His huge smile and perfect chemistry with the band and the audience surely makes the REVELATION world tour the concert not to be missed this summer. This is the new era of JOURNEY. This is rock and roll history in the making.

I am looking forward to review the new JOURNEY live at the Irvine Amphitheatre Concert on July 16. As Kevin Shirley said, I just don’t want to hear the music. I want to feel the music. However, don’t blame me if half the audience are Asians. Rock on JOURNEY.

Note: For concert schedule, please visit