Former Journey frontman Steve Perry returned to the stage for the first time in 19 years Sunday night, joining alt-rock band Eels during their second encore at a St. Paul, Minnesota gig. As Eels frontman Mark Everett said to introduce the performance, Perry left the rock star life “because it didn’t feel right.” But lucky for us, “for some reason only known to him,” Everett said, “he feels like tonight in St. Paul, Minnesota, it feels right.”
It seems the reason was, at least partly, the opportunity to lead Eels through their expletive-laced ballad “It’s a Motherfucker.” While Perry’s voice has grown coarser over the years, it still packed the same iconic punch that it used to. After finishing the set, Perry said, “I’ve told [Everett] over and over again, ‘I love that song.’ When I first met him, I couldn’t believe it. [I said], ‘Someday, I want to sing that song.'”
And since Perry got to live out one of his dreams, Eels made sure they got to live out one of theirs, too. They made sure Perry also performed a couple of his own classics: Journey’s “Open Arms” and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin.'” Check out the performance below.
After releasing two solo albums and Journey‘s 1996 Trial By Fire, Perry stepped out of the music world (partly due to medical issues including a bad hip and arthritis). But now, it looks like Perry might be ready for a comeback. AWOLNATION frontman Aaron Bruno told Rolling Stone last year that they were working with Perry on their new record. “We became friends,” he said. “It feels weird for me to talk about — I feel like I’m bragging about how this legend likes the music I’ve written. But he asked for my number. He reached out to me.” Only time will tell if a full-fledged comeback is in the cards for Steve Perry. Clearly, he is not too easy to predict.
Journey went on a long eight-year hiatus after Perry’s departure, then went through a series of lead singers until they finally hired Arnel Pineda in 2007, who has been the band’s front man ever since. You can see Journey on tour now with Steve Miller Band through August.