VANCOUVER, BC, DECEMBER 17, 2012 (PHILSTAR) So this is what Arnel Pineda does to earn a living while away from home.

That was what I thought as I watched the Filipino singer rock the stage as lead vocalist for the iconic band Journey. He goes off on tour with those guys and they then strut their stuff in fabulous venues like the 18,000-seater Rogers Arena in Vancouver last Dec. 3.

The place is huge. It is the home of the Canucks and the site of many memorable hockey games. The iced floor area was covered for the occasion and packed with Journey fans, who paid over $400 each for the privilege of being as close as possible to the stage.

There, Journey performed its new songs, some old ones and then basked in the applause and adulation from admirers who couldnít stay put on their seats and who knew all the lyrics to Donít Stop Believiní.

Arnel reminded me of Peter Pan. In his tight jeans, boots, bobbed hair and sleeveless jacket he jumped, pranced around the stage and delighted the crowd as he sang the Journey hits.

Dwarfed by Journey members Neal Schon on lead guitar, Jonathan Caine on rhythm guitar, piano and keyboards, Ross Valory on bass and Deen Costronovo on drums and percussion, he did look like a little boy. But the kid can really sing. From the Never Walk Away opener down to Anyway You Want It to Faithfully, Open Arms and others, Arnel was every bit the ideal rock vocalist.

The experience of watching Arnel with Journey is totally unlike that of seeing him sing in the local TV shows. There is an exhilarating sense of pride over how far the former carwash boy and lamay singer had come. It was also a marvel to see that the members of Journey had overcome the racist reactions that came after they hired Arnel.

That is all forgotten. The audience at Rogers made the effort to come to watch Journey on a cold, rainy December night. They didnít care who Arnel was. All that they cared about was the music and Journey, lead by Arnel gave them that in very good measures.

Of course, I cared that it was Arnel out there, as I am sure a lot of the Pinoys in the audience did. I cared that he is a Filipino singing lead vocals for a great American band and that in a span of five years, he has become a star. I have always believed that our local talents are world-class.

All that they need are the right breaks and Journey gave Arnel that chance. I think that it was also fortunate that it was Journey who took him in because he is now in a band made up of excellent musicians. Those guys can really play. I wouldnít want to see Arnelís talents and all that energy wasted with a bunch of dodos.

On the other hand, I do like to think that Arnel also made a big contribution to the resurgence that Journey is enjoying now. He was probably like a massive shot of vitamin C.

Maybe it would have been the same with another vocalist who can channel the vocal pipes of Steve Perry, Journeyís former front man. But Arnel, being Asian and equipped with a sob storied biography, certainly made the band more interesting. Then I am sure that his presence also in some way helped sell the bandís very successful, last two albums, Revelation and Eclipse.

Take note though, Arnel or no Arnel, both are very good albums.Entertainment ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 There were several concerts I had wanted to watch these past few weeks. Barbra Streisand was also at the Rogers Arena last Oct. 29, Paul McCartney was at the B.C. Place in Vancouver last Nov. 25. Back home at the Araneta Coliseum, there were Elton John and Sting. The only one I was able to see though was Journey. I am sure I would have also enjoyed those other shows. They may have been also most satisfying. But I doubt very much if I would have felt as proud as I was with Journey.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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