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Concert Reviews:
Heart Failure Gives Fans More Time With Journey At DTE

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Heart's pain turned into Journey fans' gain on Tuesday night (Sept. 9) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Heart singer Ann Wilson developed a throat problem early Tuesday evening and was pronounced unfit to perform by an ear, nose and throat specialist -- who was already backstage to examine Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander. All six members of Heart trooped on stage after Cheap Trick's opening set to tell fans the bad news, but guitarist Nancy Wilson told the sold-out DTE crowd that Journey would play a longer set to compensate and urged them to "enjoy the show. It's a rock show. Have fun."

That they did. Journey extended its headlining set from a planned 90 minutes to more than two hours, giving the sold-out crowd more time to check out Arnel Pineda, the Filipino singer discovered via YouTube who's Journey's fourth singer in a decade. And Pineda certainly made a convincing case for his dream spot in the band, especially for those still carrying a torch for Journey's most famous singer, Steve Perry.

The lounge-trained Pineda, whose presence in the band brought a substantial number of Filipino fans to Tuesday's show, proved an eerie facsimile of his predecessor. His vocals, though they tended to crack at the highest end, were spot-on to Perry's, and his smiling, energetic presence recalled that singer's demeanor during Journey's late '70s and early '80s heyday.

And Journey's expanded 24-song set confirmed that, with all due apologies to the Who, it's the song(s) not the singer as the overwhelmingly adult crowd responded exuberantly to a parade of hits that included rockers ("Stone in Love," "Separate Ways," "Wheel in the Sky," "Any Way You Want It"), arm-waving power ballads ("Lights," "Who's Cryin' Now," "Open Arms," "Faithfully,") and, of course, "Don't Stop Believing," the song that put the non-existent south Detroit on the map. "Deep cuts" like "La Do Da," "Keep On Runnin' " (sung by drummer Deen Castronovo, who also handled the turgid "Mother, Father"), "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime" also got an airing, while fans mostly sat but was still respectful for the four selections from Journey's new album, "Revelation," the best of which was "The Journey (Revelation)," a showcase for guitarist Neal Schon.

Schon, in fact, was the show's instrumental star, executing compelling solos that elevated even Journey's most mundane material. Jonathan Cain, meanwhile, was a valuable utility player on keyboards, guitar and, in the long lead-in to the show-closing "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'," harmonica. The longer show gave both men plenty of spotlight time, helping to mitigate any disappointment over Heart's cancellation.

Zander's throat issues, meanwhile, forced Cheap Trick to make its own adjustment for its 40-minute opening set -- which turned into a special performance for those who arrived in time to catch it. Eschewing its hit ballads such as "Voices" and "The Flame," the veteran Illinois quartet dug deep into its catalog for fare such as "Heaven Tonight," the Tom Petersson-sung "I Know What I Want" and the group's muscular rendition of Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" while still delivering enduring favorites such as "I Want You to Want Me" and the anthemic "Surrender." Zander did indeed sound rough but plowed his way through the 10 songs, and by the time Cheap Trick bid the crowd "Goodnight" it had certainly gotten the night off to a rocking start.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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