The Bowl’s opening night is traditionally also a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s education and outreach programs. This year a record $1.6 million was raised; the previous best was $1.4 million in 2011. Last year drew $1.2 million, L.A. Phil reps said.
Before the performance many in the crowd were wondering how new lead singer Arnel Pineda would do. The Filipino singer was discovered via YouTube by Journey guitarist Neal Schon. Afterward, many professed to be satisfied as Pineda, sounding a lot like Steve Perry but with his own infectious charm, ably stood up to his predecessor.
Also introduced was drummer Omar Hakim, sitting in for Deen Castronovo, who, according to reports, was dropped after a domestic violence arrest. Pineda and Hakim, who was also recruited by Schon, joined the regulars — Schon, Jonathan Cain and Ross Valory.
Performing with the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles and L.A. County High School Choir, Journey played not only its standard hits like “Wheel in the Sky,” “Who’s Crying Now” and, of course, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” but also some unfamiliar numbers.
“We are playing for the first time with an orchestra and chorus,” Pineda said. “So we dug deep for songs that fit, that we haven’t played for a long time.”
Danny DeVito, who introduced the band, said the evening “shines a light on the transformative power of music. I took music lessons as a kid. My teacher was a nun, she kept time with a ruler — on my knuckles.”
The evening kicked off with the unspooling of highlights from previous years Hall of Fame inductees, intro’ed by maestro Thomas Wilkins, who conducted the Bowl orchestra, and included fireworks as usual.