Arnel Pineda might not have hit every note perfectly the way that Steve Perry did as the lead singer of Journey, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the near-capacity crowd at the Greek Theatre Tuesday night who noticed. Pineda and Journey played some great music, but more importantly gave the fans a great show.
A few songs into the hour and a half set, it seemed as if the 40ish crowd was buckled into their seats as a combination of ballads and slow songs really failed to get the crowd ignited. Then it happened. The song that really has taken on a life of its own, “Don’t Stop Believin,’” combined with the energy of Pineda to give the crowd a pulse and by the end of the song you saw the entire crowd on its feet and everyone was singing the lyrics with Pineda.
The other members of Journey, Deen Castronovo, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, and Ross Valory have had their problems trying to find a replacement for Perry, but hopefully they can manage to keep Pineda in the fold for a while. Pineda for the most part did a superb job singing all of the classic Journey tracks; some were spot on, others he was close enough that you certainly couldn’t complain. While having an amazing voice, what really made the show was the showmanship Pineda provided. Pineda was all over the stage, providing an enthusiasm that Journey has not had in years. He really showed the exuberance of someone who appreciates the fact that he is where he is and that he really is living a dream, literally going from singing at a bar to performing in front of thousands of fans. His energy not only brought the crowd to life, but seemed to give the rest of the band a new lease on life.
Schon, Cain, Castronovo and Valory at this point in their careers could play the entire Journey set in their sleep, but taking each individuals craft and focusing on it, there is no denying that each of these musicians has as much talent as anyone around. Schon’s talent is not always on display to give him the proper credit he should get as the amazing guitar player that he is, but he was able to showcase his guitar abilities with his “Star Spangled Banner” solo that shook the Greek Theater. Castronovo has a never-ending fury with the sticks while he is drumming and showed his singing ability while taking the lead on “Keep on Running.” Cain is in his element with his beautiful keyboard play that is the key to the success of many of Journey’s ballad hit songs. Valory is just flawless on the bass and these four really are at the top of their game when it comes to performing and after so many years together they gel together perfectly.
As the evening was coming to a close, Pineda showed that he already really knows how to work the crowd. Closing the night out with “Wheel in the Sky,” “Any Way You Want It” and “Loving Touching Squeezin” Pineda made sure the crowd knew that the night was as much about them as it was about Journey, by bringing the crowd into every song and giving them a sense that they were singing a duet with him.
Journey might have been the headliner, but Cheap Trick and Heart who opened the show, each gave their fans a fantastic set of music as well.
Ann Wilson of Heart proved that her voice has lost nothing over the years as her range ability to let notes tear off into your soul was clearly evident on the ballad “Alone,” where she really seemed to hit every possible note, leaving you wondering how she could hold each one as long as she did. While Ann was showing off her vocal chords, sister Nancy was tearing it up on the guitar, showing on the songs “Crazy On You” and “Barracuda” that she not only was a trailblazer when it came to women guitar players, but that she can hang with most any guitar player around.
Thirty-five years of making music has not slowed down Cheap Trick at all, as Robin Zander and the rest of the band were able to give the fans a 45 minute set of hits, including near flawless performances of “I Want You to Want Me” and “Surrender.” Cheap Trick has perfected the art of giving the fans what they want and they are one of those bands that simply has a lot of fun on stage performing and they are able to carry that over to the crowd.
A beautiful evening of music with three amazing groups that all were able to live up to the history that they have created and the only thing that could match the music was the gorgeous setting of the Greek Theatre, which continues to be far and away the best venue in Los Angeles to see a concert.
For more information on the Greek Theatre, visit: www.greektheatrela.com