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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Arnel Pineda a hit even sans other Journey guys

As soon as Arnel Pineda mounted the stage and opened with Everybody Wants To Rule The World, he immediately established the show’s high energy level and never let it down till the end.

That’s how Arnel packages a concert — be it solo, or with Journey, the band that catapulted him to international stardom.

Funfare’s Big Apple correspondent Edmund Silvestre (of The Filipino Reporter) has a good reason to gush over Arnel Pineda of The Journey during his solo (meaning minus the other Journey guys) in Atlantic City recently.

“For the duration of the two-hour act at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall presented by Bing Pechangco Gabriel’s MPG Productions and sponsored by GMA Pinoy TV,” continued Edmund, “there wasn’t a hint of strain in Arnel’s pipes which amazingly reproduced the power and clarity of the vocals of his Journey predecessor, Steve Perry. At 42, he can still jump in the air (he did it like seven times) and strut across the stage effortlessly.

“And like other A-list rock performers, Arnel can be metal and soulful at the same time. Whether it’s Edwin McCain’s I’ll Be (The Greatest Fan of Your Life) and Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses, or Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Another One Bites The Dust, Arnel is a thrill to watch. One of the biggest cheers (there were many of them) came early with Arnel’s long set of nostalgic OPM selections in a duet with his former Philippine band Ammo. Arnel and Ammo players alternately sang Himig Natin, Ikaw Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko, Manila and Ibon.”

With Ammo, Arnel was in his element, so it was no surprise that together they brought the crowd to its feet when they did Sampaguita’s timeless rock favorite Bonggahan (Panahon Na Para Magsaya) with many even non-Filipinos in the audience enjoying the dancing with the rest of the concertgoers. In their OPM set, Arnel and Ammo also did Sampaguita’s Nosi Balasi and the Mike Hanopol’s Laki Sa Layaw (Jeprox) with gusto, and capped it with the patriotic Tayo’y Mga Pinoy.

Special guest Rachelle Ann Go added glitter and excitement to the show.

Observed Edmund, “Often in the shadow of today’s pop superstar Sarah Geronimo, Rachelle Anne proved that she deserved the same level of respect and adulation — and maybe more. Rachelle Ann’s lung power was remarkable and seemed more captivating than that of Sarah’s. And she sounded more mature, with every song pouring with deeper emotions. Case in point was her duet of Help Me If You Can with Arnel and her solo of Heart Evangelista’s What About Love and These Dreams.”

Edmund noted that Rachelle Ann was in a black leather tube dress with black ruffled skirt and gladiator high heels, and that made the now-Kapuso diva hot, hot, hot.

“It’s hard not to notice those perfectly-shaped legs and flawless complexion complementing her svelte figure. We wonder how she’ll fare if given a break in the acting department.”

“She reminds me of Toni Gonzaga,” Edmund quoted visiting France-based Babes De Gula-Harington, who took the two-hour train from New York City to Atlantic City to catch the show, as saying. “Her beauty grows on you at masarap siyang panoorin. Talagang sumabay siya sa world-class talent ni Arnel.”

Rachelle Ann, like Lani Misalucha, turned out to be a good impersonator of divas.

Her versions of the Phenomenal Diva Jessa Zaragoza, Soul Diva Jaya and Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez were amazingly right on target and brought the house down. But, according to Edmund, Lani has no reason to worry…yet.

”Rachelle Ann still has to polish her impression of the Asia’s Nightingale.”

Bringing Rachelle Ann on board was a good idea to tame the show’s macho ambiance.

Nice to know from Edmund that Arnel, despite his now being an international star, has remained grounded and sensitive to his fans.

“Once in a while, he would encourage them to approach the stage and pose with him for a Kodak moment, or simply give them a high five. Truly, he is one artist who knows what his audience wants, and gives it to them without holding back.”

The sad thing was that even if the audience clamored for him to, Arnel didn’t (because he couldn’t) sing any of Journey’s songs in his solo gigs as stipulated in his contract with the band. Sorry na lang daw.

“It’s simply out of respect for the group that helped me get to where I am now,” Arnel repeatedly told the crowd, who accepted his explanation, before telling them in jest, “You know, I don’t want to lose my career, my house, my car, my wife.”

According to Arnel, Journey band, currently finishing its latest album, will have a world tour next year which could bring him back to Atlantic City.

“By then,” said Edmund, keeping his fingers crossed, “we’re certain that the fans will welcome him back (and the rest of Journey) with open arms.”

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