Friday, June 13, 2014

Third time's the charm: Steve Perry hits the stage again in L.A.

What can you say? A pleasure to the ears once again. My first reaction:
Stephen Hazan Arnoff: @hazanarnoff - #StevePerry sings again...What's it all mean?

Me: Melting and weak knees here is what it means.
How it looked on Twitter...

The setlist:
It's a Motherf*cker
Only Sixteen (Sam Cooke cover)
Open Arms
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezing.

As I said on Facebook when the video surfaced: "Excuse me. Momentary break for weak knees and swooning. From Wednesday night in LA..."

Only Sixteen was jaw-droppingly good this time around. Steve Perry had so much more power and command of his reinvigorated gift -- his instrument -- it was all there. You could hear a pin drop at times in the Orpheum theatre. Perry's trademark vibrato and judicious use of melisma -- the whoa-oh-whoa-whoas that send chills up and down your spine -- resonated throughout the room. I confess, I was tearing up as I heard it. Joyful tears at missing that tone, that presentation. He's back; the rusty pipes are clearing up at lightning speed and he now has the self-confidence to let us see him getting back up to speed. That in itself is a victory. So many of us don't mind watching him bloom again, we've all waited for so long.

And after some touching and amusing storytelling, he launched into Lights and Lovin' Touchin, Squeezing...downtuned a couple of keys, but who cares. Swoon again...

For fantastic photos of the event, check out Leslie Kalohi's Flickr Photostream. 

He seems ready to come out of that shell...officially. He told The Hollywood Reporter, in a piece ("Journey's Steve Perry Joins Eels Onstage at Orpheum: 'The 20-Year Hermit Thing is Overrated'"):

Dancing like a man at least 20 years younger than his 65 years, Perry rocked out on "Lights (When the Lights Go Down in the City)," nimbly leaping over the microphone cords perilously snaked around the stage, turning his back on the audience to groove with Eels drummer Knuckles (Derek Brown), then facing the audience to hit the high trills flawlessly, yet with a new rasp in his voice sounding just a bit like E himself.

"The 'cit-ee' is L.A.!" shouted E.

"Here's another," said Perry. "I was 18, working as an assistant engineer in a music studio... I'm out of breath! I guess I haven't done this enough lately to get in shape.

..."It's been so goddamn long," said Perry to the audience. "I gotta thank the Eels for inviting me out here -- the best band that any singer could want. I met E because of a friend of mine, Patty [Jenkins, director of Monster]. She burnt me a CD of Daisies of the Galaxy, and I told Patty, 'Someday I want to sing that song.'" Then Perry and Eels performed the Eels tune, "It's a Motherf---er."

..."Listen, I've done the 20-year hermit thing, and it's overrated," said Perry. "Why now? It's a long story, but it has to do with a lot of changes in my life, including losing my girlfriend a year ago, and her wish to hear me sing again." 

As I shared with my friend Jeff Salado, lead singer of the fantastic tribute band Journey Revisited, I can be tough as nails in other areas, but I'll easily cop to being weak-in-the-knees, schoolgirl crushing on this stuff (it's why my political blog readers often made light of my Journey obsession).

But I wasn't the only one crushing on The Voice. Former Journey lead singer Jeff Scott Soto hit the nail on the head in a Facebook post (and he faved my Tweet when I pointed folks to it):
Ok, I’ve sat back and watch the cheers (and jeers), the big hype, the fatuous rumors and lastly, the criticisms of what once was and/or isn’t anymore so now I’ll chime in…as I do! 
Being a member of the legendary Journey for all of 11 months, I have my own thoughts about how I feel about this monumentally influential band today…but how I still feel about the phenomenon that is Steve Perry!

Mr Perry has resurfaced recently performing with The Eels, and I will admit, regardless of all the hoopla made out there, I personally just enjoyed hearing THAT voice again…in any capacity!

The words ‘aged, husky, raspy’, even ‘too rested’ have been thrown out there but to me personally, that ‘tone’ is still there, the one and only thumb, or rather, voiceprint, still exists and I couldn’t be more excited to hear it again!

A few weeks after the 1st earshot of Steve’s voice rang out, quite possibly a reality check in that YouTube is the end all be all in one’s humble beginnings or belated comebacks, and he’s seemed to spring back even more into his ol’ form. Sure, the Journey tunes he’s doing are a key or 2 lower give or take, but JESUS CHRIST, that tone, it’s there, it’s STEVE F-ING PERRY! If you don't believe me, here's what I am talking about from LA, I believe just last night.

So as I shake off the cobwebs of my own memories with this band that ended 7 years ago, I revel in the (hopeful) return of this monolith who was one of the reasons I could see R&B & Rock be plausible, the man who influenced me in so many ways and now after a 20 year absence, continues to do so…thank you Steve Perry!

UPDATE: Martha Quinn (@marthaquinn) agrees with my weak-kneed review!

UPDATE 2: Former Journey frontman Steve Augeri beautifully weighs in (in an oh-so-NY way, lol):
Today I experienced what I or any singer or songwriter dreams of and aspires to but seldom achieves. That is to be moved to tears, tears... by a singer and his or her song. The singer, Steve Perry, and the song penned by The Eels, "It's a Mother Fucker".

I am / was apprehensive of writing and expressing myself because there will be those who will perceive this to be either a kissing of the "tuckus" or… a show of disrespect to the gentleman who so successfully and beautifully followed us both, Arnel. They are neither, but a tribute to, and an acknowledgement of, an achievement that so many thought no longer obtainable.
This should be a lesson and an inspiration to us all. It certainly is to me.

Welcome home Mr. Perry.

Steve Augeri

And there was more...after the jump.

Perhaps the best analysis -- of the performance and personal view of Perry's return expressed in the immediate moments afterward -- was by Bob Lefsetz of the Lefsetz Letter. It resonated with me in many ways:
Steve Perry’s been gone for twenty years. For him to sing is like having Mickey Mantle come back from the dead, kick the dirt from his cleats, smile at the stands and then hit one over the fence.

Because that’s what Mantle did.

Steve Perry did what he does tonight. He emoted, he reached out and grabbed the audience, he gave a performance. One that was based not upon dancing or set decoration, but purely the music itself.

He told stories, he sang to the heavens, he touched me.

And I’m not gonna listen to a single jaded fuck say a negative word about it.

Right there with you, Bob. As I've said before, I have no interest in seeing Mr. Perry return to Journey. That's another life, another chapter with the page turned. Steve needs to share his rejuvenated enthusiasm on his terms, with positive energy on performing, not hitting endless tour dates as a business proposition. I would prefer to see him do new material, in the keys that work best to suit his present voice, to hear the warmth, passion and soul that only he can bring to the table.

Related posts:
* A Journey fan's dream deep cuts setlist -- that means no DSB, peeps
* Steve Perry and the Eels - it's not "one night only" as fans see him again in DC (updated)
* Steve Perry sings live again -- and, as expected, it stirs up angst in the Journey/SP fan world


  1. Did steve perry cut his hair?

  2. Reading these reviews of Stevie warms my heart. I will not stand for one minute of the nay-sayers either. I haven't the time. My heart soars at the thought that Perry came home to us. And if I may be so lucky to see him, I will most definitely be blessed.