By Brian Ives
It finally happened. Journey and former singer Steve Perry shared the stage at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight. But it was only to accept their awards, and give some moving speeches.
Pat Monahan of Train presented the band with a great speech of his own: “Their music has transcended all things that separate us as humans.” He led the audience in a singalong of the wordless “Faithfully” chorus, “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’.”
“They didn’t even need lyrics, that’s how badass they were!”
“I’m just a kid from western Pennsylvania,” he continued. “I moved to San Francisco because of the song ‘Lights,’ it made me think I could be something. They weren’t afraid to be romantic and hold women in high esteem they weren’t afraid to do songs to make you feel good. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, you either like something or you don’t and I’ve loved this band my whole life!”
Neal Schon, clearly moved, said: “This is a long time coming, I thought this would never happen. this is all about you, the fans.”
He added, “Steve Perry, you’re a one of a kind!” The vibe between the two, despite all of the recent drama around whether or not the band’s former singer would show up, seemed genial.
Former keyboardist/singer Gregg Rolie said, “I want to thank Neal Schon for calling me and saving me from the restaurant business to start Journey. I want to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for inducting this band, finally. This is really about the fans.”
Drummer Steve Smith thanked the band’s current singer, Arnel Pineda, for keeping Journey alive.
Jonathan Cain thanked the Cubs for winning the World Series — the cameras panned to Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, a noted Cubs fan, in the audience. Cain also thanked his dad for saying “Don’t stop believin'” to him when things got rough, thereby inspiring the song.
And then, Steve Perry grabbed the mic.
“Hello, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! You sure look good to me tonight!” speaking as if he was about to perform. He recalled being a fan of the band before he joined. “I would always go to see Journey perform, I watched with amazement, their musicianship was par to none. There was one instrument that flew above, that was the magic guitar of Neal Schon.” Schon, who clearly wanted to perform with the singer, looked moved.”
Perry spoke warmly about his other former bandmates, and then the man who replaced him, Journey’s current lead singer. “I must give a shout out to a man who sings his heart out every night, Arnel Pineda.” Pineda looked moved as well.
He even thanked the people who used to run Journey’s fan club. “Speaking of fans….” he said, as the audience roared.
“Speaking of fans! You’re the ones who put us here. You’re the rock and roll hall of fame! from my heart, I must tell you, I’ve been gone a long time, you’ve never not been in my heart. Thank you so very much.”
And with that, he left the stage; leaving the current band, with Pineda, to perform without him. They started with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).”
He then introduced some former members of the band – drummer Ansley Dunbar and Gregg Rolie for “Lights.” He dedicated it to Steve Perry, who did not perform. They closed with “Don’t Stop Believin’,” a song that lit up the Barclays Center. Pineda did a great job with the song, and the others — as he does every night Journey performs — but fans were clearly bummed that Perry didn’t join them. And were confused as well: why wouldn’t he want to perform those songs, one more time.