Journey abides |The Courier-Journal

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when Journey wasn’t considered awesome. They were dark days, as if a shroud had been pulled across the sky.

Even when the band was at its peak during the early 1980s, there were haters. Classic rockers dismissed them as lightweight. The nascent alt-rock scene saw them as dinosaurs. Punk rockers were repulsed at best, homicidal at worst.

Jealous. All of them. Journey is forever, and that’s been proved conclusively as the band has wormed its way back into our mass consciousness on a scale that rivals its best years.

When “Don’t Stop Believin’” was played over the final scene of “The Sopranos,” the song became, if possible, an even bigger part of pop culture. At karaoke bars throughout the country, there is that moment of perfect drunkenness that begs for Journey (see: “Family Guy,” karaoke night at the Drunken Clam).

When the band’s new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, nearly quit in tears because he missed his family, the lovable story made headlines everywhere. “Don’t Stop Believin’”“ was the first catalog track (meaning not a current hit) to top the 2million mark in digital sales.

And now Journey is performing in the same arenas as it did when selling millions of records. The band members return Friday to Freedom Hall, where they headlined nearly 30 years ago.

But why? How has this band endured when so many of its contemporaries have gone or faded? How have those who mocked them mercilessly in the ‘‘70s and ‘‘80s been transformed into non-ironic fans?

Easy. It’s the singer and the songs.

Steve Perry, who fronted the band during its biggest years and is now retired, possessed a voice so remarkable that every Journey singer since has essentially been a clone. He had enormous power, range and perfect pitch, all of which allowed him to easily sing over the squall of a rock band. There was something else, too — a sweetness that could quickly switch gears from melancholy to celebratory.

He had a lot to work with. The songs most associated with Journey are built like a rocket silo, crafted to expertly push every button ever pushed in the name of the Top 40. “Don’t Stop Believin’” is a textbook anthem, “Faithfully” a textbook power ballad, and “Anyway You Want It” textbook pop. There are plenty more, but the list isn’t inexhaustible; Journey’s rep is based on a select handful of songs.

via Journey abides | courier-journal.com | The Courier-Journal.

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