Steve Perry Returns

EELS w/ Journey lead singer Steve Perry in St Paul

Now it’s your turn girl to cry…

Na na na na na na, we’re all at home lounging on the long weekend and we check our devices and find out Steve Perry’s returned from the dead and is performing with the Eels in ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA?

Native son Bob Dylan might be on a never ending tour, but this is a much bigger deal.

He was supposedly too fat to be seen in public.

He could no longer hit the notes.

He might as well be dead…

And then he shows up not even rusty, plying the boards, imploring an audience too young to have been there the first time around to sing and they do and the result is akin to John Lennon returning from the grave.

Oh, don’t accuse me of being sacrilegious. Of all people, Lennon was famous for taking the piss out. If he were alive today, you wouldn’t be revering him, he’d be the old guy in the corner saying edgy stuff that made you feel uncomfortable, lamenting the fact that he once was…

Steve Perry was never that. But Journey bridged a gap, from the old to the new, from the Beatles to MTV, from singles to albums and back to singles again. They were the band the girlfriends of the guys who loved U2 wanted to see. And secretly, their boyfriends wanted to go too.

To the stadium.

Taylor Swift can sell out stadia, but no one else can.

Instead we’ve got these festivals which have become a joke, because they’ve got nothing to do with music, and this year, with most headliners home, the lineups are so thin there’s nothing holding these multiple day events together other than the food and the drugs.

But it didn’t used to be this way. Used to be it was about songs, about records, about albums, and you went to the show to hear it all.

And now nobody wants to hear a single new note by any of these acts. They just want to hear the hits. Before Keith Richards keels over and the other Beatle…

Come on, if you believe in music you’ve never heard of tech.

You know music, where no one uses their own money other than the developing acts, who implore you to listen to their derivative drivel.

To the point where when Steve Perry re-emerges, it’s akin to watching the “Sopranos,” you get an emotional hit that makes your heart flutter, that makes you feel fully alive, and isn’t that what life’s all about?

Not ogling the babes, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but being so entranced by the music that you feel the act is eying you and the only thing that matters is their music.

And once upon a time, this would have been totally different. In a matter of weeks, we’d have read about it in “Rolling Stone,” the straight press caring not a whit about our music.

But “Rolling Stone” is still a magazine, not a website, and most papers are hollowed-out shells, so the truth is we spread the word ourselves on what’s important, we’re the tastemakers, we grab hold and tell everyone, that’s how I found out, via e-mail, with links to a substandard YouTube clip just good enough to prove that it really happened.

Remember when you were excited about the gig?

Remember when you lined up all night for a ticket?

Remember when the people in the front row were not rich assholes but people just like you, who knew every word? When you truly believed that music could change the world, when “Star Wars” was for nerds?

I certainly do.

And it turns out the only bearer of the torch is Steve Perry.

Because he said no instead of yes, he never sold out.

Yup, what kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where the purest guy on the planet is Steve Perry?

The aforementioned Dylan does TV spots.

Steven Tyler was on “American Idol.”

Everything’s grist for the mill, and if there’s a buck in it, the performer says yes.

And then we’ve got Steve Perry taking no cash, showing up singing his songs in the heart of the country unannounced?

Didn’t Kimye tell us to sell our souls? To stage a spectacle and charge the gossipistas to spread the word to the salivating masses?

“Godzilla” comes and goes in a weekend. The hype lasts longer than the film.

And then we’ve got a guy who does it the old way and we end up positively flabbergasted.

Lara Logan didn’t get an exclusive, there was no “60 Minutes” manipulation.

It’s so stunning that the media monsters haven’t even grabbed hold of this story yet, in a couple of days it’s going to be MONSTROUS!


Because art runs this country. And, unfortunately, artists have sacrificed their art.

Gaga was so stupid she didn’t know it was about music.

Jay Z keeps telling us it’s about money, as if the Fortune 500 didn’t have so much more.

And everybody else keeps bitching that there’s no money in recordings. That they can’t get rich.

And Universal is a public company. As is Live Nation. No one’s got skin in the game.

Well, I’ve got a message for you, that’s the essence of art, having skin in the game, putting it all on the line, confounding our expectations.


P.S. Now what? Who knows! While we’ve been waiting for Robert to reunite with Jimmy, do Neal and Steve make peace and go on a stadium tour satiating those who’ve waited decades? And when it’s done does the band go back out with Arnel, the same way Mike Love reunited with Brian Wilson and then left him in the lurch? Or maybe nothing. There appears to be no plan. And there hasn’t been no plan for eons, ever since the head of marketing became a king at the label. You’re supposed to have a campaign, you’re supposed to orchestrate, you’re supposed to leave no stone unturned, you’re supposed to carpet-bomb. And having done all that, your story fades. What kind of bizarre world do we live in where Solange attacking Jay Z is a bigger and longer lasting story than Beyonce’s last album?

P.P.S. This is rock and roll. Doing the unexpected in your street clothes. Were there lasers? A backdrop? Was there merch? Most stuff you see and forget, I saw this clip and I can’t stop thinking about it, I can’t stop believin’.

One Response to Steve Perry Returns


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  1. […] Bob Lefsetz analyzes Steve Perry’s performance with The Eels and nails it in “Steve Perry Returns.” […]

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  1. […] Bob Lefsetz analyzes Steve Perry’s performance with The Eels and nails it in “Steve Perry Returns.” […]

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