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Journey Is a Fine Destination in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

We have been fans of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Journey going back to the {gasp} late 70's and we have followed their actives with renewed interest ever since they hired their new lead singer Arnel Pineda in 2007. A revamped lineup featuring founder Neal Schon (lead guitarist), Jonathan Cain (keyboards, backing vocals), Arnel Pineda (lead vocals) Jason Derlatka (keyboards, backing vocals), Deen Castranovo (drums, backing vocals) and Todd Jenson (bass guitar) made their way to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on April 27, 2022 - and, by all accounts the group was in top form in Music City proving that they still are one of the best in the business.

Journey Was Arena Rock at Its Finest In Nashville!

As for Arnel Pineda - we saw him with Journey during his first U.S. tour in 2008 at Bethel Woods in upstate New York. To say watching him then was a revelation just gets us half way there. The crowd was rooting for him to succeed and he burst on to the scene with uncontained energy and enthusiasm as he delivered the most arduous catalog in rock history with confidence and extreme competence. His emerging "plokker" fanbase sang his praises on a nightly basis.

But, it was nearly a decade later during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2017 that the wear and tear of performing this body of work was very publicly put on display and Arnel unfortunately picked a high profile gig to put on one of his worst performances as the lead singer of Journey. Still, the band's demanding songs have done in previous frontman before him including Steve Perry and his immediate replacement Steve Augeri. By the time 2022 rolled around Pineda is the longest tenured singer for the chart toppers and this fact drew a bit of a gasp when Cain mentioned it from the stage in Nashville.

Journey founder Neal Schon and his band were flying high in Music City.

Now, all this is said only to reveal a very happy ending. During an early April interview with the "Real Music Observer" longtime drummer and Pineda pal Deen Castranovo went on the air to discuss the current tour and recent improvements in Arnel's delivery and durability.

"This is a blast. The band is having a blast. The chemistry is great," Deen reported. "Arnel is singing better than ever. That's no lie. We had to change our front of house guy. Arnel was having a hard time hearing. He's been fighting this for years. We finally figured out, after years and years, that our soundman was just pushing the mixes. He was having a hard time just struggling to hear himself. Arnel - it was like a flip of the switch. He hasn't lost it. We were all concerned maybe he was just having a hard time. It's a hard catalog to do every night. This changed everything. Once we figured it out - and this is the fifth show in with this new soundman - he's back. He sounds like he did in 2008. He's soaring again."

Arnel Pineda was as good as he's ever been with an astonishing return to form in Nashville.

So, armed with this new piece of information we entered the building and anxiously awaited for Journey to take the stage on their Freedom Tour - a 40-city North American, all-arena outing featuring TOTO in the opening slot on all dates.

"We are looking forward to shifting into high gear and bringing you the best show possible. The band is running on all 12 cylinders and very excited," said Schon prior to the gig. Neal came out first to play the "The Star-Spangled Banner" backed with images of soldiers and the flag. Fans respectfully rose to their feet as Schon soared on the anthem. Folks remained standing for a spirited "Only the Young" flowing into "Stone in Love". Vibrant visuals were used throughout much of the night adding to Journey's overall peppy and polished presentation. The show was off and running and Arnel was indeed in amazing voice and spirits.

Cruising into even higher gear they performed "Don't Stop Believin'" as singer Arnel Pineda encouraged the audience to sing along. Mentioning their home town of San Francisco they went into "Lights" and people happily lit up the Bridgestone with their phones and they kept the pedal to the metal with "Send Her My Love". Now, Journey introduced a new song - "You Got The Best of Me" that had all the elements of their classic catalogue. The track is from their upcoming 15th studio album and 3rd with Arnel entitled Freedom. At one point, Jonathan mentioned that Pineda has been with them 15 years which seems hard to believe as the vocalist displayed all the youthfulness of his early years with the added benefit of experience.

More scenes from the show.

Back to the hits such as "Mother, Father" (Deen on vox), "Open Arms", "Faithfully" and "Girl Can't Help It" (Jason Derlatka on lead vocals). Besides talented instrumentalists this group sure has a lot of good singers, too. Interspersed with the crowd connectors was a piano solo from Jonathan Cain. Lavish guitar licks from Schon lead into a creative spin of "Wheel in the Sky" with a jam. More power pop with "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)", the encouraging "Be Good to Yourself" and "Any Way You Want It" that ended with a blast of confetti to let fans know that the concert had concluded in full celebration of the live return of Journey.

As Neal promised, the band was running on all 12 cylinders - engaging the crowd with energy, effective use of lights and visuals along with stellar musicianship all while appearing to be having as much fun as the audience was. Singer Arnel Pindea has truly and miraculously returned to form and Journey is still arena rock at its finest. So, feel free to check them out if they come to a city near you.

SETLIST: The Star-Spangled Banner | Only the Young | Stone in Love | Don't Stop Believin' | Lights | Send Her My Love | You Got the Best of Me | Dead or Alive | Who's Crying Now | Mother, Father (Deen on vox) | Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' | Jonathan Cain Piano Solo | Open Arms | Faithfully | Girl Can't Help It (Jason Derlatka on lead vocals) | Neal Schon Guitar Solo | Wheel in the Sky | Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) | Be Good to Yourself | Any Way You Want It

Journey was a fine destination in Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on JOURNEY and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Journey | TOTO | TOTO Puts Their Golden Musical Wizardry On Display | Journey Continues with Mile Marking Show in Music City | Bridgestone Arena


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