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London Hammersmith Apollo, 17 June 2008

Photos by Kristi Nathan

Journey, Arnel Pineda

Journey have taken the London bus principle to extremes- after not touring the UK for 26 years, the AOR legends made their third trip in as many years and with a third different singer. Jeff Scott Soto's summary dismissal may have left a nasty taste in the mouth but in Arnel Pineda, Journey have gone back to a singer that can replicate the vintage sound of Steve Perry's vocals.

Any doubts about the ability of this Filipino former covers band singer to cut the mustard were dispelled the moment he raced onto the stage with a huge smile on his face and worked the whole crowd as they opened with the opening cut from new album Revelation, Never Walk Away.

With him, Journey appear to have the best of all worlds- a Perry influenced singer who copes with ease with Journey classics such as Separate Ways, Only the Young, Stone in Love and Ask the Lonely, but bringing the energy that Soto did to an otherwise static band hardly in the first flush of youth.

Journey,Neal Schon

Not only did Neal Schon gave a masterclass with his fluent guitar runs and extended solos that pushed songs to their limit while maintaining complete control, he visibly seemed to be enjoying himself which is not always the case. Furthermore, as well as impressing with his powerhouse drumming, Deen Castronovo also impressed with his own Perry impressions during Keep on Runnin' and Open Arms, giving Arnel a well-deserved rest.

Journey gigs are always characterised by the 'dirty dozen' of their best known hits but what was most impressive this time was the seamless way five new cuts from Revelation, including Change for the Better, Wildest Dream and Where did I lose your love, nestled into the set.

Album tracks like Chain Reaction, with a great extended solo from Neal, and Edge of the Blade allowed Arnel to show he is not just a ballad singer, though on the evidence of a moving Faithfully that is where his real strengths lie.


And talking of ballads, new song After All These Years is an instant classic and lost nothing in comparison with the classics Who's Cryin Now and Open Arms.

A minor quibble though was that much of their 70's work, Raised on Radio and any other post-reformation albums were entirely ignored, with Escape, Frontiers and the new album comprising 90% of the set.

But who really cares when you are part of a whole crowd including the balcony on its feet singing along to set closer Don't Stop Believin', with encores of Escape and Anyway You Want it ending 2 hours of the finest melodic rock you could wish to see. A very special night.

Review by Andy Nathan

Photos by Kristi Nathan

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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