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Notes and Reviews
LAST UPDATED:  NOVEMBER 14, 2009

Stephanie Reese debuts at Carnegie Hall

Rick Springfield at Twin Rivers - Lincoln, Rhode Island

As 1 lives up to hype... and more!

Sold-out Martin Nievera concert featuring Brian McKnight did not disappoint

Songspell Concert in Chevy Chase, Maryland

Two Queens Wow Los Angeles

Competing Events in New Jersey, May 2008

The Show That Explained Gary V’s 25 Years of Superstardom

GMA Network and stars win big at the Visionary Awards

Revelations from Journey's Las Vegas weekend

Society of Seven, Lani Misalucha, and Martin Nievera

The Cascades. The original. Alive.

Kapuso Fever Rocks Las Vegas!

Pops on a sentimental journey without Martin

Kapuso Fever dazzles Las Vegas!

Gary V at John Hancock Hall, Boston

'Ka Freddie' captivates Fil-Am crowd in Hollywood

Kuh Ledesma in Boston

GMA Pinoy TV Stars: A Big Hit at Phil-US Expo '07

Martin Nievera livens up the new Planet Hollywood

Dingdong & Jessa "That Thing Called Love"

Barbie rocks Los Angeles with a revelation

Martin & Pops concert - Still making beautiful music together!!!

Triumphant Nora Aunor Concert in Boston!

Review of Bayanihan Dance Company

Pops and Martin together again. . . On Stage

Martin & Pops - the magic lives on

The Other Side of Sarah Geronimo: A wild Success!

Viva Vina, The Other Concert Queen!

Pops, Regine and Jose Mari Chan wow concertgoers

Trias cashes in on instant stardom, but not all can

"Trial By Water" Ma-Yi Theater Review

AEGIS, they came and they conquered and it was worth the money

Love ko si Koy! Camile Velasco's NY media lunch

Tell Me, about Joey Albert

Get Intimate: Patricia Javier

Re-learning OPM with Hajji and Rachel Alejandro

Side A Rocked New Jersey!!!

Aegis Band, April Boy Regino entertained Guam

Pinoy classic Rockers rocked the Kiss Club

Diva 2 Diva at Harrah's Lake Tahoe - a certified hit!

An Evening with Dessa

Vegas Comes to Strathmore: Misalucha & The Society of Seven

The Leyte Dance Theater ……. A Knockout Performance

Megastar Sharon Cuneta brings her best to Atlantic City!

Red hot Pops and Regine set Atlantic City ablaze!

Lynn Sherman: Beyond the swing element

Society of Seven, Lani Misalucha Continue to Enthrall Audiences

Rica Peralejo at the San Jose Sheraton: Encore! What you see is what you get, and then some...

Lea and I, under the "Orange Colored Sky"

Fil-Am wins Best Director Award at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival

Freestyle NYC concert review

Parokya ni Edgar storms into New York City!

The Greatest Hitmakers in NJ: a great reminiscence

Been There Done That But Give Us Some More! The APO Strikes Again Spring Concert Tour!

Greatest Hitmakers rock San Francisco

Banner

Sold-out Martin Nievera concert featuring Brian McKnight did not disappoint
by Rene Villaroman
Asian Journal, Dec. 28, 2008

CABAZON, CALIFORNIA—Martin 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 venue’s entrance one hour before the concert began at 6:30 pm.

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 show—it ran nearly three hours—he was very proud and happy to have been given this performance," attests Ted Benito, who was the concert’s 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 don’t have a family, you’re nothing," Martin added. "I’m 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. "It’s my job to put you in a Christmas mood!" A fan hollered back, "Why aren’t 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 It’s 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. That’s a good thing," Martin declared. "To perform with my back-up band is a joy. I’ve never met a group of musicians so dedicated to music."

"It’s 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 they’ve 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 couldn’t believe it," she gushed. "It’s 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, we’re all professionals, so we just winged it. And I’m 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. "He’s like my other family." Martin and Brian’s 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, I’ll Be Home for Christmas and he and Martin sang a medley of Stevie Wonder original songs, that include Isn’t She Lovely, Superstition, and many others.

Brian is an altogether artist in a phenomenal world-class of musicianship, according to Benito. "You can’t teach the way he plays the piano and sings," Benito described. "His talent is God-given and flows directly from his soul."

Brian’s music segment was beyond expectation and his duets with Martin on a set of Stevie Wonder classics—the first ever in front of an audience—was historic and breathtaking vocal dynamism.


Songspell Concert 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 that evening.

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 ANGELES
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 Jaya’s February 8 [2008] US Show was their first major duo concert.

In an exclusive interview at the Asian Journal’s office in Los Angeles, Elizabeth could not contain her excitement about their show.

“Masayang-masaya itong 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 laughingly said.

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 crowd’s 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.

Elizabeth’s excellent voice was as powerful as ever as she belted out old-time favorite ballads and rock n’ roll hits. Jaya’s 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 don’t look and act my age (76) at kaya andito pa ako,” she said.

Jaya said her mother’s energy and youthful appearance is a blessing from God. “Regalo yan sa kanya ng Diyos kasi she hardly exercises and she doesn’t keep to a healthy diet.”

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 Elizabeth’s and Jaya’s music were amazing! If you were there, you know what I’m talking about. IF you weren’t you should have been. They were well worth watching and we hope to see more of them in California.

Production: World Premier Productions

For Inquires for Jaya or Elizabeth please feel free to contact: Michelle Feniquito (818) 679-1085 or Mikala@sprint.blackberry.net. Inquires will be forwarded to Manager Stella Sampedro.


WEEKEND IN REVIEW - EDITORIAL
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 entertaining?

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. Very poor.

More so, the Jersey City event lacked logistical suave. It was mentioned that the food stalls weren’t 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 didn’t 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 V’s 25 Years of Superstardom
by iPinoy.ca

There is a difference between promoting and mere ticket selling. Gary Valenciano, bless that artist’s 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 Toronto’s 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 Gary’s 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 who’s been a part of an era that Gary Valenciano’s 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 audience—without breaking a note, mind you… I thought it was the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen.

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 80’s 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 superbly… 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 what’s 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 hall—and 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 Gary’s 25th Anniversary concert the promotion it deserves.



PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT PERSON: Jush Andowitt
Tel: 310- 989- 4578
Email: joshandowitt@yahoo.com
www.gmapinoytv.com

GMA Network and stars win big at the Visionary Awards

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 Public Service.

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 Sotto.

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 AWARDEES:

Dante Basco, Role Model Award
Mike Enriquez, Visionary Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism
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 Hosting
Luis Villafuerte, Congressman, Visionary Award for Government Service
Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., Visionary Award for Public Service
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 Programming
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 Weekend
March 11, 2008
www.melodicrock.com

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 Neal Schon.

"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.

In further 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 reviews.

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 Journey.

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' Squeezin'.”

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 Clavadetscher

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 a knife.

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.

Jonathan Cain 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 looking back.

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 singer Arnel)


Society of Seven, Lani Misalucha, & Martin Nievera
posted on Martin Nievera's Yahoo fan group by "rvoltes5"
Feb. 24, 2008

What started out as a belated Valentine’s gift for my wife, it turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve 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 Martin’s 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,”he’s 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 don’t pass. Their voices complemented each other so well that I couldn’t believe that they didn’t perform more often. Their duets alone were enough for admission…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.