Album-oriented rock legends Journey came to Singapore last month for only their second ever concert in this tantalising city of skyscrapers and scorching heat.
The Star Theatre, a mammoth imposing building built for the New Creation Church, is so high it almost touches Heaven itself, although to the casual tourist you could be forgiven for thinking it has just been left behind from a Star Wars movie set. With four plush floors of shops and restaurants, the music venue itself is on the fifth floor with a massive 5,000 purpose built seating arena.
Despite only being in the band for a decade now, Filipino born vocalist Arnel Pineda is a star himself in South East Asia and has fitted into the glove of this American superstar band with ease. He can sing effortlessly these melodic rock anthems made famous by the soulful voice of Steve Perry, in fact it’s easy to forget that Pineda is actually the third singer Journey have had since Perry semi-retired, with his predecessors Steve Augeri and Jeff Scot Soto now almost eradicated from Journey’s history.
The current pint-size singer with the big voice bounced away like a kid on a trampoline, making the most of the large stage in Singapore as Journey stormed into the opener ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’. Pineda has the most challenging job in Journey now that drummer Steve Smith has made a welcome return to the band, meaning four fifths of the classic line up that made 80’s albums ‘Escape’ and ‘Frontiers’ are reunited together.
It came as no surprise that the bulk of the set played was made up from those two classic LPs, and sadly the two albums that Arnel Pineda has so far made with Journey, namely ‘Revelation’ from 2008 and the more recent ‘Eclipse’ from 2011 were both rather shamefully overlooked. But with such a golden catalogue of treasures it’s no surprise that the majority of the crowd wanted to hear the hits.
Guitarist Neal Schon was on stunning form all evening, melting out solos like his life depended on it and slipping into a variant of ‘Stone In Love’ before going into this glorious number in its proper manner.
Phones were held high aloft with LED screens shining in the air for a marvellous version of ‘Lights’. Jonathan Cain then teased with ‘Send Her My Love’ during his piano solo, while spending half the show with a guitar himself. His piano solo led beautifully into the power ballads ‘Open Arms’ and the smooth ‘Who’s Crying Now’.
One surprise came when Arnel Pineda took a rest to allow sixth touring member Travis Thibodaux to come from under the darkness behind his keyboard to sing his lungs out on a jaw-dropping version of ‘After The Fall’.
More power ballads came with the soaring ‘Faithfully’ and the inevitable glee of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’, which had everyone out of their seats.
For the encore Neal Schon chose a connoisseur cut of ‘La Raza del Sol’, a former B-side from the ‘Escape’ sessions where the band spontaneously jammed in their unique jazz fusion style incorporated from Schon’s time, and again more recently with Santana where Journey prove what virtuoso musicians they are.
Riding out with an arm waving ‘Lovin’, Touchin’,Squeezin’, Journey could’ve played all night without any complaints. The pinnacle melodic rock band expressed their worth to the Singaporeans with majestic ease.
(Report & photos by Mark Taylor)
Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Be Good To Yourself
Only The Young
Neal Schon Guitar Solo
Stone In Love
Any Way You Want It
Jonathan Cain Piano Solo
Who’s Crying Now
After The Fall
La Do Da
Steve Smith Drum Solo
Wheel In The Sky
Don’t Stop Believin’
La Raza del Sol
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’