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Concert review: Journey's new singer has fans 'Believin'

Published: Saturday, July 12 2008 12:02 a.m. MDT

Journey's new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, performs at USANA Amphitheatre with Heart and Cheap Trick on Friday.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — Journey's new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, is as close as one can get to being former frontman Steve Perry.

Not only did he have the long, flowing black mane and the sideburns, but Pineda's movements, facial expressions and vocal delivery was so close it was scary.

Now, it's clear Pineda isn't Steve Perry, but he got the job done and the thousands of fans who flocked to the USANA Amphitheatre Friday night, weren't disappointed.

Pineda hit every high note, unlike another former Journey singer — Steve Augeri. And Pineda sang to the audience, instead of over it. He made eye contact, and he hit those soaring notes.

The set opened with an extended version of the guitar instrumental, "Departure," that segued into "Majestic." Pineda emerged as a bundle of energy with the new song with the old-Journey style, "Never Walk Away."

Classic Journey tunes such as "Lights," "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," "Send Her My Love" and "Ask the Lonely" were highlighted by a backdrop LED screen that not only gave the back row a good look at the band, but also flashed geometric graphics throughout the night.

The vocal gymnastics of "Open Arms," "Edge of the Blade," "Don't Stop Believin"' and another new song, "After All These Years," were on the mark as Pineda leaped, ran and serenaded.

Guitarist Neal Schon's solos, added to Jonathan Cain's keyboard, Ross Valory's bass and Deen Castronovo's drums completed the sound.

The mix, however, was a little bottom heavy, and it was hard to hear the lyrics, although not hard to hear the notes.

It was clear the band has been reinvigorated by its new lead singer.

While Journey was the headliner, the night was also good for Heart. Fronted by sisters — guitarist/vocalist Nancy Wilson and lead singer Ann Wilson — the band tore through a load of hits that included "Straight On," "Magic Man" and the acoustic-laden, "Dog and Butterfly."

Older-sis Ann's voice was still as powerful as it was 30 years ago when the band cranked out the trademark rant of "Barracuda."

Little sister Nancy was able to step into the spotlight with her lead vocals and mandolin on "These Dreams," which opened the way for a piano/guitar quiet version of Ann singing "Alone."

The band threw a couple of cover tunes into the well-balanced mix, paying tribute to the Wilson's musical influences. The Who's "Love, Rein O'er Me" and Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" became Heart songs Friday night.

Of course, the last song of the set was "Crazy on You."

The concert began with a mediocre set by Cheap Trick. The mix was a little to tinny at times and the band, with the exception of guitarist Rick Nielsen, seemed tired.

Sure, Cheap Trick played "Hello There," "Dream Police," "I Want You to Want Me," "If You Want My Love," "She's Tight" and "The Flame." Nielsen also strapped on a few of his famous guitars — including the double-necked one that was modeled after his body and his five-necked monster guitar — but the energy was a bit low.

However, when the band did "Surrender," although it sounded bit rushed, the energy emerged. But it was too late. The song was the last song of Cheap Trick's set.

Still, the audience found itself riding high after Heart and throughout the Journey show.

E-MAIL: scott@desnews.com

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