Nievera concert featuring Brian McKnight did not disappoint
by Rene Villaroman
Asian Journal, Dec. 28, 2008
Nievera proved that he could still pack them in his My Christmas List
concert with Brian McKnight held on Sunday, December 21, 2009 at the Morongo
Casino. Every seat in that contest was sold out and hundreds of fans were
lined up at the venues entrance one hour before the concert began at
Martin gave a wonderful
concert full of his characteristic self-deprecating humor, and a mosaic of
songs from the 60s through today. The concert also showcased the talents
of his guest artists RJ de la Fuente and Stephanie Reese.
"It seemed to me that this
particular concert was very personal to Martin, and although he was exhausted
by the end of the showit ran nearly three hourshe was very proud
and happy to have been given this performance," attests Ted Benito, who was
the concerts stage manager. "I do have to say that Jackie Regala and
Cliff Villaflor did a great job in producing the show." Martin was joined
by his older sons Robin and Ram in a trio of a song that he had written when
the boys were still very young, and he cuddled his youngest son, Santino,
and sang to him. "Nothing beats having a family," Martin said. "If you
dont have a family, youre nothing," Martin added. "Im so
blessed and I want to share that blessing with you."
Although it was a billed
as a Christmas concert, Martin sang only a couple of Christmas songs. "Are
you in a Christmas mood?" he hollered. "Its my job to put you in a
Christmas mood!" A fan hollered back, "Why arent you wearing red?"
Minutes later, Martin emerged wearing a red plaid tie that he borrowed from
a crewmember backstage. He then opened the concert with Its the
Most Wonderful Time of the Year, that was followed by an acapella rendition
of We Wish You a Merry Christmas by his back-up singers. "My concert
tonight is sold out. Thats a good thing," Martin declared. "To perform
with my back-up band is a joy. Ive never met a group of musicians so
dedicated to music."
"Its such an honor
to be a part of the concert here with Tito Martin and Brian McKnight. Being
in a concert with these people and their caliber, and what theyve done
to music is very exciting," said guest performer RJ de la Fuente. "Humbly,
I thank God for this opportunity. This is pretty big for me," he added.
Guest singer Stephanie Reese,
who had performed with Martin in the past, was thrilled. "I couldnt
believe it," she gushed. "Its a nice way to have a little gift right
before Christmas." Reese sang a medley of Shirley Bassey songs, and Prayer
in a duet with Martin. "I love performing with Martin always," Reese
told Asian Journal after the concert. "I was nervous at first," she said.
"We did not have a proper rehearsal for all the songs. But you know, were
all professionals, so we just winged it. And Im so proud and grateful
to be a part of it," Reese said.
Brian McKnight, of course,
was the most anticipated performer of the show, and when he sauntered on
the stage, the audience went wild. "I met him on his evening show (in Manila),"
McKnight said of Martin. "Hes like my other family." Martin and
Brians friendship and camaraderie is genuine. "What Martin said in
his intro of Brian is completely true," attests Ted Benito. "There is much
respect and admiration from both artists towards each other," Ted told this
writer. Brian sang a brand new composition (still untitled) that he said
he wrote just the other week. Brian also sang Back to One, Ill
Be Home for Christmas and he and Martin sang a medley of Stevie Wonder
original songs, that include Isnt She Lovely,
Superstition, and many others.
Brian is an altogether artist
in a phenomenal world-class of musicianship, according to Benito. "You
cant teach the way he plays the piano and sings," Benito described.
"His talent is God-given and flows directly from his soul."
Brians music segment
was beyond expectation and his duets with Martin on a set of Stevie Wonder
classicsthe first ever in front of an audiencewas historic and
breathtaking vocal dynamism.
in Chevy Chase, Maryland
Friday evening [May 17,
2008] was a wonderful kick-off to a long weekend. And that is because of
the important presence of Songspell talents. We all had been blessed with
beautiful, exciting, and touching songs and the overall performance by these
amazing children was no less than superb! It was excellent! It was terrific!
It was WOW a hundredfold! It was definitely D'BEST!
As for those who were present,
we can all attest that it was such a SUCCESSFUL event. I received great reviews
from a lot of people who were craving for more! We did not want the evening
to end and we wanted to have more!....MORE songs and MORE dances from Songspell!
The crowd reacted in a very positive way and the noise, cheers and jubilation
was so overwhelming, so contagious and so exhilarating! There was a lot of
positive energy and a lot of fun. It was a JOY and very HUMBLING and it makes
you feel proud to be a PINOY!
I know I was so touched
especially when they sang the "Bayan Ko" song - I realized that I was not
alone who was moved by it. It certainly brought tears... tears of joy, admiration
and gratefulness. No wonder it was called "Handumanan (Memories)" - it brought
good memories of our homeland and our heritage. We have good memories of
The Songspell performers
who gave me feedback said that the Raleigh crowd was the best during this
Tour as it made them feel energized and grateful to be here! They are truly
Ambassadors of peace, unity, love and of music! They deserve an encore!
TWO QUEENS WOW LOS
Review by Cynthia
de Castro, AsianJournal.com
The Philippines Queen of
Rock N Roll, Elizabeth Ramsey and her daughter, Jaya the Queen of Soul,
set the cold wintery night aflame with music at their Rock and Soul Concert
at the Long Beach Convention Center last night. Although they have performed
together in various shows in the Philippines before, Elizabeth and Jayas
February 8  US Show was their first major duo concert.
In an exclusive interview
at the Asian Journals office in Los Angeles, Elizabeth could not contain
her excitement about their show.
concert naming ni Jaya. We will not only sing songs that are surely well-loved
by everyone, but we promise it will be so much fun. Nakaka-tanggal ng arthritis,
diabetes, bara-bara sa mga arteries. Nakakatunaw ng cholesterol, Elizabeth
Jaya chimed in as she explained,
Not a lot of singers can perform onstage and can interact with the
audience. I think this is something my Mama and I can do. In this show, we
will give the audience more than just songs. We really want to give people
a good time, fun and laughter. Kaya, we will have asaran, kulitan, sayawan,
kuwentuhan, tawanan at siyempre, kantahan. She added.
And true enough, Jaya and
Elizabeth captured the crowds rapt attention from the moment they walked
onstage to the end of the concert. Their excitement level rubbed off on everyone
else in the theatre as the two obviously had a great time interacting with
each other and with the crowd. The mother-daughter team playing back and
forth off each other made for an incredible show-a stunning, visual, vocal
and emotional experience one will find hard to forget.
voice was as powerful as ever as she belted out old-time favorite ballads
and rock n roll hits. Jayas voice was equally flawless as she
sang great songs from her latest album. Cool Change, and Tagalog hit songs
which were so loved by the crowd.
Like all who know and see
Elizabeth, the crowd was so amazed at her youthful looks and energy.
parang hindi tumatanda, was the usual comment of fans who know
that she has been in show business for over 50 years now. Elizabeth revealed
the key to her looking and staying young, I believe that God gave me
a mission and that is it to entertain and make people laugh. Gusto ko lagi
akong nagpapasaya ng tao. Kaya siguro I dont look and act my age (76)
at kaya andito pa ako, she said.
Jaya said her mothers
energy and youthful appearance is a blessing from God. Regalo yan sa
kanya ng Diyos kasi she hardly exercises and she doesnt keep to a healthy
A mainstay of the Sunday
noontime variety show SOP over GMA 7, and one of the main hosts of ALL STAR
K, Jaya announced to Asian Journal that she has a new show over QTV. It was
launched just a week ago, entitled One Proud Mama, a talk show featuring
mothers of well-known individuals.
Elizabeth, a widow for the
past 50 years, lives in Manila right across from Jaya, who is married to
Filipino-American Gary Gotidoc, with whom she has a daughter named Sabriya.
Rock and Soul was one of
the finest Pinoy concerts in LA. The passion and talent the incredible stage
presence, the power and force of Elizabeths and Jayas music were
amazing! If you were there, you know what Im talking about. IF you
werent you should have been. They were well worth watching and we hope
to see more of them in California.
Production: World Premier
For Inquires for Jaya or
Elizabeth please feel free to contact: Michelle Feniquito (818) 679-1085
Inquires will be forwarded to Manager Stella Sampedro.
WEEKEND IN REVIEW -
FILIPINO EXPRESS, May 19-25 2008
LAST weekend, the Filipino-American community
here in New York and New Jersey witnessed two competing events: The event
in Jersey City and the one in Secaucus.
Based on reports gathered by the Express,
the volume of people present in the two events was almost the same. However,
it does not mean that the attendance was dense. In fact, it is quite the
contrary both events suffered.
What would have become if the organizers of
these two events joined forces? We suppose that the outcome would have been
best for the whole community. But it did not turn out that way. Becasue of
that, we are forced to compare. Which event was more organized and more
We have heard comments from attendees that
the event in Jersey City was disorganized.
The sound system alone, according to one attendee,
sounded like a tin can engulfed by tons of reverb and echo. It was inaudible.
More so, the Jersey City event lacked logistical
suave. It was mentioned that the food stalls werent readily visible.
It was located in the basement of the venue where the sanitation is a little
doubtful. It was also said that the hotdog stand in front of the venue sold
more items than the registered food vendors in the event. In addition, it
was reported that artists that open for the main stars didnt even get
water or any form of refreshment. Artists
were allegedly expected
to sell tickets to get money for food.
On the other hand, we heard that the sound
system in Secaucus was of professional quality and that the flow of the whole
event was impeccable. Food was available from all corners of the venue, and
the general atmosphere was smooth. It was also mentioned by some artists
who played in Secaucus that they were treated well. In the first round of
the battle between these two organizations, it appears that the Secaucus
event won. Although, it is doubtful that the Secaucus group gained profits
from their event. The split cost them dearly. Now, there is talk that there
will be a round two in August.
If this is true, they should by now learn
from their mistakes to improve their events. However, they should also bear
in mind that most FilAms want unity.
The Show That Explained Gary Vs
25 Years of Superstardom
There is a difference between
promoting and mere ticket selling. Gary Valenciano, bless that artists
love for his craft and his fans all over the world, must have been genuinely
thankful that RST Productions pursued the first in order to successfully
bring Gary V Live! 25th Anniversary 2008 World Tour onstage
in Torontos Sony Centre last April 26. Months before the event, the
iPinoy.ca team witnessed the dedication of the two producers, Ricky Tanpoco
and Susan de Leon, to spread the word out to the Filipino community in the
Greater Toronto Area that their favorite pop icon will soon be in town to
entertain them live. Nearly all Pinoy establishments in Toronto had a poster
of Gary with his palm bearing a Maple leaf emblem. And almost every kabayan
had been recipient of the news. Darating si Gary V sa Toronto!
It paid off. Forget that it was the day of
the TTC strike. Several thousands of screaming fans and music aficionados
bought the ticket to reacquaint themselves with Garys music and talent.
In return, Gary acknowledged their support wholeheartedly. Rarely do I witness
a performer say I love you, too to the audience with so much
sincerity that he brought a smile to every rocker, hip-hopper, OPM lover,
Christian men and women and just about anybody there whos been a part
of an era that Gary Valencianos legendary career has spanned. Then
there was a point in the show when Gary stepped down from the stage while
singing the beautiful song, Wait Forever, to hug, shake hands
and have his picture taken with fans from the audiencewithout breaking
a note, mind you
I thought it was the most awesome thing Ive
Dressed in a sporty form-fitting outfit and
jeans, he was casual, ageless and very likeable. He breezed through nearly
3-hours of upbeat tunes and love songs from the 80s hits to his recent
multi-platinum albums. He serenaded, rapped, grooved and justified 25 years
of superstardom to an adoring audience that night.
That he performed well was a given. That he
danced his signature moves, given. That
he infused Pure Energy, sang live
all those were expected. But what had been worth braving the
transportation strike, the infernal parking and buying the concert ticket
for was experiencing the magic of Gary Valenciano as a person minus the iconic
status. Sighs were heard when, as a proud father, Gary made exuberant
introductions of his two sons and gave them each an intense five-second embrace
after their performances with him onstage. Not contented with simply
acknowledging his band and back-up singers by their names, he generously
gave the audience insights into his relationship and whats admirable
with every member. He extensively thanked the show sponsors. He unabashedly
honored his wife, Angeli, as the heart of his family and the one person whose
reassurance and advice he sought the most. He made sure that he connected
with his entire audience from both the ground and upper levels of the
halland saw to it that no one would feel neglected from left, right
and center. And most of all, he praised, gave thanks and performed for the
glory of his Lord with all the passion and love derived from his strongly
rooted Christian faith.
He was just as warm and accommodating to the
iPinoy.ca team offstage. Before we said our goodbyes during the dinner hosted
by RST after the show, we told Gary that he should come back because Toronto
obviously loves him. Gary replied, Yes, I know
I actually felt
it, thank you! Pray naman for the success of our show tomorrow, ha?
One could only pray that the producers of his next concert would be half
as dedicated as RST Productions in giving Garys 25th Anniversary concert
the promotion it deserves.
GMA Network and stars win big at the Visionary
GMA KAPUSO Network
and its stars led the honorees at the 1st Annual Filipino-American Visionary
Awards held Friday, March 7, 2008 at the prestigious and world famous Kodak
Theater, home of Hollywood's biggest event.
The grand star-studded gala event akin to
the Oscars® and the Latin Alma was produced by NuVision Worldwide Media,
a newly-launched multi-entertainment company involved in international as
well as mainstream music, films, soundtracks, videos, live events, concerts,
promotions, sales and marketing.
This year's Visionary awards night was envisioned
to give new vision and appreciation of Filipinos to the world, particularly
in the entertainment industry.
"We want to make a difference in this industry
and by awarding those who have achieved excellence in their respective fields
namely television, film and music, we hope to bring pride and recognition
to honor those who have put Filipinos on the map. And not just the
Filipino-Americans who have made a difference here in Hollywood, but those
from the Philippines whose contributions to promote our talents have uplifted
the profile of Filipinos in the arts, entertainment and sports," NuVision
Chairman and CEO Ramil Q. Gonzales said.
Mike Enriquez of
GMA Kapuso network's Imbestigador and 24 Oras was handed the first award
of the evening for Visionary Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.
"The Visionary Award, the first ever for Filipino
Americans, is something that will serve as an inspiration and challenge not
only to me but to all other Filipino journalists," Mike said.
He also accepted the GMA Kapuso network's
award for Visionary Award for Excellence in Television Programming.
"On behalf of the men and women of GMA network
and GMA Pinoy TV, we thank you Filipinos in the United States throughout
the world for letting us into your homes," Mike added.
The triumvirate of Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto,
and Joey de Leon was given the Legend Award for Television Hosting.
"Mayroon palang mas higit pa sa Kapuso at
higit pa sa Kapamilya, eto ang kapilipinohan
sa buong daigdig," Joey declared.
Philippine film and TV actor Richard Gutierrez
accepted the awards for Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera for Favorite Television
Actor and Favorite Television Actress respectively.
Richard was also honored with his own trophy
for Image Award for Star Power.
"It is such an honor for me to be here, to
be accepting an award at the Kodak Theater. I promise to work hard, to strive
for excellence for the Filipino audience," Richard said.
The other GMA Kapuso network stars also honored
were Francis Magalona for Legend Award for Music, Manny Pacquiao as Athlete
of the Year, and Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr. for Visionary Award for
Among the array of Filipino American artists
who were recipients of the Visionary Awards, apl.de.ap (Alan Pineda) said
it best in his acceptance speech for Image Award for Music which captured
the essence of this historical star-studded evening.
"I will continue to make Filipino music, rap
more Tagalog, show everybody our
culture, where we came from, I am proud to be Filipino,
I am Filipino today, I will be Filipino tomorrow, I will be Filipino in the
future," Alan declared.
Nia Peeples shared the same sentiments when
she accepted her trophy for Legend Award for Acting.
"The most extraordinary thing about tonight
is that we the people have come together not just to honor the achievements
of various individuals but we the people have come together to honor each
other," Nia said.
The grand gala event featured performances
by American Idol Season 3 finalist Jasmine Trias, European singing/dancing
sensation Billy Crawford, Philippine Pop Diva Kuh Ledesma, Philippine Concert
King Martin Nievera, Hannah Montana's Anna Marie Perez de Tagle, Philippines'
Phenomenal Diva Jessa Zaragoza, Dingdong Avanzado, NONOSINA Polynesia Dance
Ensemble, and the Cast of Fever the Musical featuring TV host/actress Ciara
This historic first-of-its-kind production
was emceed by Philippine singer/songwriter Dingdong Avanzado and KSCI's Kababayan
LA producer/host Jannelle So.
The production team was headed by Hollywood
director/producer Douglas Velasco, five-time Emmy®-award winning writer
Craig Heller, Art Director/Set Designer Scott Heinemann (Art Directors Guild
Award winner), primetime Emmy® Award Lighting Designer, Jeff Ravitz.
The "Inaugural Filipino-American Visionary
Awards" was a production of NuVision Worldwide Media, LLC in association
with Creative Concepts International and TDRZ Productions, Inc.
1ST VISIONARY AWARDS: COMPLETE LISTS OF
Dante Basco, Role Model Award
Mike Enriquez, Visionary Award for Excellence in Broadcast
Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Rising Star Award
Francis Magalona, Legend Award for Music
Vicente "Tito" Sotto, Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon: Legend Award for Television
Luis Villafuerte, Congressman, Visionary Award for Government
Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Visionary Award for Public
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, Legend Award Media Pioneer
Charo Santos, Visionary Award for Television Host of the Year
Dolphy, Legend Award for Performance in Comedy
GMA Network, Visionary Award for Excellence in Television
Sunny Garcia, Legend Award for Sports
Manny Pacquiao, Athlete of the Year
Richard Gutierrez, Image Award for Star Power
Nia Peeples, Legend Award for Acting
Mark Dacascos, Image Award for Acting
apl.de.ap, Image Award for Music
Ding Dong Dantes and Marian Rivera, Favorite Television Actor
and Favorite Television Actress
Rudy Fernandez, Visionary Award for Performance in Action Film
Martin Nievera, Visionary Award for Entertainer of the Year
Sen. Robert Jaworski, Visionary Lifetime Achievement Award
The "Inaugural Filipino-American Visionary
Awards" was truly a historic star-studded grand gala award show that was
simply world-class and should be respected and embraced by the Filipino and
Filipino American Community worldwide!
For more pictures, please log on to
www.joshandowitt.com. For more
information, please log on to www.gmapinoytv.com.
Revelations from Journey's Las Vegas
March 11, 2008
As mentioned yesterday,
Journey played two shows at the Planet
Hollywood Theatre, Las Vegas this weekend. Below is two reviews of the
event and a few pictures. In addition, a direct quote from the stage stated
that the Revelations album would be a "double
album" which would also include the live DVD filmed Saturday.
So, following the footsteps of the
REO Speedwagon 3-Disc WalMart deal of 2007,
Journey's package looks set to include the new studio album, a disc
of re-recorded hits and the bonus DVD.
I'm as curious as ever to hear the new studio
material - the previews from this weekend sound promising - but the idea
of including the classic hits re-recorded with new vocalist
Arnel Pineda in the same package is a curious
move that could (in my opinion) take attention away from the new material
(due to the debate that re-recording classic material is bound to attract).
Interesting times these are...
As for the new songs -
"After All These Years" sounds like a nice
typical Journey style ballad, with a leading
piano line and a very tasteful guitar hook from
"Never Walk Away" sounds like a breezy uptempo
pop/rocker with a feel good hook, strong chorus and a distinct Be Good To
Yourself tempo and vibe.
"Wildest Dreams" is another uptempo number
with another strong guitar riff and a style that sounds a little like Higher
Place and the Arrival album in general. Strong verse... but not sure I am
convinced by the chorus at this point.
Journey news - the band will soon announce
US tour dates set to start in early July with
Heart and Cheap
Trick as support.
Enough editorial...time to hand over to the
First up - Dan Clavadetscher with his
personal take on Saturday night's show:
Journey / Planet Hollywood Theatre, Las
Vegas, Nevada / Saturday, March 8, 8:15 10:26 p.m. PT
Set List: Neal Schon Solo,
Any Way You Want It, Only the Young, Stone in Love, Ask the Lonely, Wheel
in the Sky, Who's Crying Now, Faith in the Heartland, Lights, After All These
Years (New Song), After the Fall (Deen Castronovo vocals), Never Walk Away
(New Song), Jonathan Cain Solo/Open Arms, Mother/Father (Deen Castronovo
vocals), Wildest Dreams (New Song) Separate Ways, Escape, Faithfully, Don't
Stop Believin'. Encore: Be Good To Yourself, Wildest Dreams (Take Two),
Faithfully (Take Two), Lovin' Touchin Squeezin'.
Music, like all forms of art, is subjective.
What one person finds enjoyable may be disappointing to another. The same
logic holds true for concert reviews. That being said, opinions inevitably
will vary regarding Arnel Pineda's United
States debut before a paying audience as the new lead singer of
After keeping fans in the dark regarding the
status of Steve Perry's replacement, Steve
Augeri, for months during Journey's co-headlining tour with Def
Leppard in 2006, the band hired and then unceremoniously fired singer
Jeff Scott Soto, alienating a number of long-time
fans in the process. Despite the lack of transparency, many of the diehards
turned out for Journey Version 2008 on a windy night Saturday in Las Vegas.
The band that hit
the stage with their third lead vocalist in as many years did not hold a
candle to the Soto-led group that consistently blew Def Leppard off the stage
during their co-headlining 2006 dates. Soto brought a new energy, magnetic
stage presence and refreshing outlook to a band that had suffered through
a high-profile controversy with Augeri and were in danger of having to cancel
the remaining dates of a lucrative tour before Soto arrived. During the brief
Soto era, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross
Valory and Deen Castronovo were
tighter as a unit and played with a renewed sense of purpose that had not
been seen for years. Unfortunately, all of that was missing in Las Vegas.
Following two February shows in Chile and
a corporate gig in Las Vegas two nights before the Planet Hollywood
date, the new Journey led by Pineda was not tight and many of the harder
rocking tunes such as Chain Reaction, Edge of the Blade
and Keep on Runnin' were missing from the set list. The result
was an uninspired and lackluster set that had many in the sold-out crowd
sitting for much of the show.
Pineda, the 40-year-old Filipino who covered
Journey songs in his previous band The Zoo, did a decent job imitating
Steve Perry and appears to relish his role in the group. After he
finished Lights, Pineda announced to the crowd: This
is so exciting. However, he has an awkward stage presence, rarely
interacted with his band members, and came in early on a few songs and sang
over Schon's guitar parts (see Escape and Faithfully).
After the band played six hits, including
Wheel in the Sky and Who's Crying Now, Pineda mistakenly
introduced a new song that he said was from the band's new album
Revelations. Instead, the group played Faith
in the Heartland from the 2005 release
Generations. The mistake can possibly be explained
by a change to the set list.
Following Lights, Cain introduced
the new song After All These Years from their upcoming release
by saying, This is a new ballad dedicated to the fans who have been
with us through the years. Of the three new tunes performed Saturday,
this was easily the strongest and went over well with the diehard fans.
Pineda, who disappeared from the stage while
Castronovo took over lead vocals on After the Fall, returned
in time to watch Schon, in a mock British accent, introduce the second new
song and Be Good to Yourself knockoff, Never Walk Away.
After Castronovo sang Mother/Father, Cain provided the crowd
with information about the upcoming studio album before the band performed
the hardest rocking of the new tunes, Wildest Dreams.
Following the encore of Be Good to
Yourself, the concert appeared to be over after 100 minutes as the
crowd of approximately 7,000 started to exit their seats and make their way
up through the aisles. However, since the band was recording the show for
a DVD, Journey returned and Pineda announced, We have to do one
of the new ones again because we fucked it up. Schon and company
then played Wildest Dreams for the second time.
After the song, the band needed to fix another
tune, so Cain asked the crowd: Would you like to hear
Faithfully again? After the classic ballad, the show then
concluded with a subdued, bluesy version of Lovin', Touchin'
A number of questions remain after watching
Journey with Pineda. Will new fans and longtime loyalists embrace a second
Perry sound alike? Was Cain's dedication of After All These Years
genuine, or a half-hearted attempt to please the fans? Will Pineda be given
the time to mature as a lead vocalist, or will he be the latest singer dropped
by Cain, Schon, Valory and Castronovo? Will the band get tighter over time
and return the songs to their original tempos? Will Pineda attempt to tackle
some of Journey's harder rocking songs from its back catalogue? Will the
new album be more of the same? Is this the last incarnation of Journey?
Those who embrace Journey Version 2008 may
be happy with the group's new/old direction. However, one cannot help but
wonder what a new studio album from the once-great band would have sounded
like if Soto was allowed to continue his own journey. - Dan
And just for good measure and to ensure complete
coverage, another site regular and friend of mine e-mailed in a review also.
So, over to Freddie Woods-
First off let me begin by saying this would
be a night of many surprises. Being a person
who has been a fan of Journey since their beginning
in 1975, I saw them on their first tour here in Vegas at the International
Ice Place opening for Santana. A point I would tell Ross Valory later
on in the night. When I first heard that Jeff Scott
Soto was no longer in Journey my heart fell to the floor. Then
to hear Neal Schon had picked a guy from YouTube to be the new singer
thought he had lost his mind. He has proven that his mind is as sharp as
We find our seats and notice this is not a
usual "Vegas" crowd. In fact, there are a lot of Filipinos in the crowd.
The house lights go dark and the band walks
onstage bathed in blue lights. Neal stands center stage ripping out a solo
and then they launch into "Anyway You Want It". New lead singer
Arnel Pineda is a bouncy little package of
energy. I thought at first that his size would make him look strange onstage
but he reminded me of young Ronnie James Dio, always in constant motion.
"Only The Young" is next with no break.
comes out front on guitar and you can see that the crowd has accepted Arnel
into the fold. The huge Jumbotron behind the stage shows a huge smile on
Arnel's face as he says "Good Evening Vegas" and Neal starts the opening
cords of "Stone In Love". Now I know this is the first show with Arnel and
the band is testing out what works and doesn't work so their choice in songs
must be given a little leeway but "Faith In The Heartland" bombed big time.
The crowd, which had been on its feet from
the start sat down on this one. I'm sure 95% of the crowd had never heard
this song or the CD Generations. It would be the only song from the Steve
Augeri era of the night. The band grabs the crowd back with a powerful version
of "Lights". Arnel is really hitting his stride now. Hitting and holding
notes with room to spare.
The first surprise of the night, a new mid
tempo song called "After All These Years" which Arnel dedicates to all the
long time Journey fans. Drummer Deen
Castronovo does a great job singing "After The Fall" but for some
reason is not shown on the giant screen above him and most of the crowd is
wondering "who" is singing. Another new song, a rocker entitled "Never Walk
Alone" follows. Jonathan treats us to a piano solo which heads into "Open
Arms" and the crowd sings every word back to Arnel.
Dean takes over lead singing with "Mother,
Father" and this time he's all over the screen. Most of this crowd has no
idea the fantastic voice he has and has been singing harmonies all night.
The first single (I was told) "Wildest Dreams" coming from the new CD is
straight out vintage Journey. All the hooks that have made Journey are in
this song. If this is the direction the band is going, I like it!
The highlight of the night "Faithfully" was
sung with such strong emotion by Arnel, the crowd who were singing along
sometimes stopped to hear him sing. Arms waving in the air, this was the
band flexing its muscle. What you saw on Youtube could not hold a candle
to him live. This guy is the real deal! "Separate Ways" thunders out followed
by "Escape". "Don't Stop Believin'" finishes off the set and it's clear that
whatever the problem was with Jeff Scott Soto, they have moved on and aren't
The crowd begs for more and the band returns
to encore with "Be Good to Yourself". Arnel and boys are having "fun" now
with Ross making faces at the cameras and Arnel spinning about the stage.
They take their bows and the house lights come up. All in all a great show
and the band has shown they have made all the right decisions.
30 seconds after the house lights come up
an "announcement" comes over the PA saying the band must come back to "redo"
a song for the cameras. People scramble like ants to get back to their seats
and Jonathan addresses the crowd telling us that they need to redo a song
for the new DVD/CD that's coming out in June titled "Revelations" and that
tonight's show will be the DVD.
Lo and behold they redo "Faithfully" and the
crowd goes nuts. If it's possible to make something better the second time
around THEY DID IT! Arnel hit every note with such power and passion he had
the crowd eating out of his hand. If you closed your eyes you would have
sworn it was Steve Perry from the Escape tour. His voice is THAT strong.
The band leaves the stage again but is called back to redo another song.
This time it's the forthcoming single "Wildest Dreams". Arnel asks the crowd
"Do you want more?" I love this song. Then another surprise. Neal walks over
to Arnel and Dean, tells them they'll play another. They start a bluesy vamp
with Jonathan playing harmonica. Arnel and Neal scat back and forth for a
while and then play with the crowd a little. This morphs into "Lovin', Touchin',
Squeezin'". At one point in the song Arnel picked out one of MANY Philippine
flags and waved it on stage. The crowd went insane. It was the loudest roar
of the night. This band must play Southeast Asia. I believe there will be
no stadium large enough to hold them. Finally at 10:25pm the bands takes
their final bows and we head upstairs for the "Meet and Greet!"
After waiting 25 minutes Jonathan is the first
to walk in and greeted by applause. He is followed by Ross and then the person
I have been waiting for, Deen, enters the room. In 1981 Deen was in a band
called "The Enemy" and I was in "Little Sister". We both played the Vegas
club scene and in a Battle Of The Bands on this very stage 27 years ago.
His band took first place, mine took 3rd. I stopped playing drums in 1986
and became a radio DJ here in Vegas. Deen went on to play with the likes
of Ted Nugent, Ozzy, Bad English and now Journey. I made my way over to him
and waited my turn. When I got up to him I asked if he remembered his old
band The Enemy? Now remember, I haven't seen, talked or had ANY contact with
Dean in 27 years! He looked at me and said "Freddie? Freddie F**kin Woods?"
My jaw dropped. My friend Mike looked like he had just hit Megabucks.
We started hugging each other and he proceeds
to tell the whole room that I was one of his favorite drummers. I was in
awe! This man remembered me after 27 years. Then a little voice says "Fredrick?"
It was Deen's mother. Hugs were the order of the night. Deen introduced me
to Ross, Jon and Arnel (who stood on a chair to take a picture with me).
Neal hadn't arrived yet. We exchanged phone numbers and he promised we would
hook up next time they hit Vegas (I got the tour lowdown but am sworn to
secrecy). This was a night I will NEVER EVER forget. I wish I had seen the
band with Jeff. I was lucky to see them 10 times with Steve Perry, 3 times
with Steve Augeri and now with Arnel. My only "wish" is that they could play
a few more songs. - Freddie Woods.
Pictures from Freddie (incl. one of him with
Society of Seven, Lani Misalucha, &
posted on Martin Nievera's Yahoo fan
group by "rvoltes5"
Feb. 24, 2008
What started out as a belated Valentines
gift for my wife, it turned out to be one of the best shows Ive seen
in a while.
In the Flamingo Theater located inside the
Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas reside the Society of Seven, or S.O.S. for short.
When this group added Lani Misalucha to perform with them, it already boosted
a powerful singing comedic group of performers to higher levels of showmanship.
I was thinking there was no way this group could get better.
Again, I stand corrected.
Enter Martin Nievera.
Martin is performing with S.O.S for a short
stint in Vegas. Let me tell you, this show is a must see. Not just for Martin
fans, but for those that love a good time. Martin was great being part
of the society with the group. It is somewhat strange because his father,
Bert, started with S.O.S. with some of the same original members still performing
in the band today. He was truly a great group player as Martin was part of
the many skits of the show. I would tell you some of them, but trust me,
words cannot describe what I saw Martin do. You need to see that for yourself!
The nice thing I thought was that Tony, from
the S.O.S. gave a brief introduction of Martins accomplishments and
Martin sang some songs that made him famous. This was truly a treat for some
of the American patrons in the concert. One of them turned to me and just
said,hes very cute.
I need to mention Lani Misalucha because I
knew how great she sounded. Her performances for the night were top notch.
But Lani and Martin TOGETHER is just something you dont pass. Their
voices complemented each other so well that I couldnt believe that
they didnt perform more often. Their duets alone were enough for
but with S.O.S it was truly a magical evening.
You need to see this amazing show being performed
by the most amazing people.
So come and see and support the greatest group
the Las Vegas Strip has to offer.