Arnel Pineda became an international sensation when Journey interviewed and ultimately hired him as their new lead singer based on a series of YouTube videos.
He participated in their 2008 Revelation project which included a disc of new material, a disc of re-recorded classics, and a live DVD. It was immediately apparent to me that Journey had made the right decision as Pineda’s voice exhibited clarity, flexibility, and a range that few singers possess. Journey’s songs are difficult to sing and he was more than up to the task.
The DVD presented him as a little wooden on stage and definitely younger than the other group members and so he looked out of place. His stage demeanor has since improved 100% and it appears that he has now settled in comfortably as their lead singer. While he is obviously still younger than his bandmates, it is less noticeable. I chalk this up to the fact I have gotten more used to him, and that he does such a good job it becomes less of a focal point.
On March 14, 2009 Journey traveled to Manila in the Philippines which is the homeland of Arnel Pineda. 30,000 fans would turn out for their concert which is chronicled on this two disc, two hour plus DVD set.
Live In Manila captures Journey at what they do best which is presenting some of the best power pop/rock in music history. The 25 tracks here include 18 of their best known songs, plus seven more from their last release.
“Faithfully,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Separate Ways,” “Open Arms,” “Anyway You Want It,” and a host of others exhibit a freshness and energy despite having been performed for decades. Many of the songs are extended, which gives Neal Schon room to work his guitar wizardry. Dean Castronovo assumes lead vocal chores on three of the tracks and I am always amazed what a fine vocal instrument he possesses.
The video quality is crystal clear and the sound is excellent as well. It was filmed with a 4K high definition camera which has a resolution that exceeds 35 mm film. My only criticism is they did not release the concert in a Blu-ray format, but such is life.
Journey was formed in 1973 and Live In Manila clearly proves there is a lot of life left in them despite the passage of time. There may not be many surprises but they do what they do better than most of their contemporaries past and present. Hopefully The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame voters will view a copy of this latest release.