The is­land-fa­vorite rock­ers re­turn as they pre­pare for the in­duc­tion of a life­time

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - TGIF - By Sjarif Gold­stein sgold­stein@starad­ver­

For the third time in the past eight years, Jour­ney is com­ing to Hawaii for mul­ti­ple shows. In 2009, it was five con­certs across three is­lands. In 2012, it was three shows at the Blais­dell Arena. This year, it’s four (three on Oahu and one on Maui). Other than that vary­ing num­ber (and Steve Smith re­turn­ing for his third stint as drum­mer), not much has changed with the band. They still ar­rive stocked with ra­dio stan­dards — “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Open Arms,” “Any Way You Want It” — and they’re nearly as big a draw here as they were in their 1980s hey­day. (The first two arena shows, Thurs­day and Feb. 24, are prac­ti­cally sold out; there’s more avail­abil­ity on Feb. 26.)

That pop­u­lar­ity is still stoked by their singer — Philip­pines-born Ar­nel Pineda, a Steve Perry sounda­like who has fronted the band since the mem­bers called him in for an au­di­tion in 2007 after dis­cov­er­ing him on YouTube.

One thing is new this year. Jour­ney comes to the is­lands on the verge of in­duc­tion into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is much ma­ligned, but artists who are in­ducted un­der­stand the weight of the honor. For all the in­sti­tu­tion’s flaws, it does pro­vide val­i­da­tion for a body of work. When you’re on the out­side look­ing in, it’s easy to take so­lace in the com­pany of oth­ers who are still wait­ing (the Cure, Iron Maiden and T. Rex among them). But once you are cho­sen, as Jour­ney was in De­cem­ber, it’s time to be honored at the com­pany you now keep. Join­ing Jour­ney in the 2017 class are Pearl Jam, Joan Baez, Yes, Elec­tric Light Orches­tra, Tu­pac Shakur and Nile Rodgers.

“It’s quite an honor,” Jour­ney gui­tarist Neal Schon said Tues­day in a phone call from Seoul, where the band was in the midst of the seven-coun­try run through Asia. “To tell you the truth, I had for­got­ten about it, or want­ing to be in it, be­cause we had never been up for it for 17 years, and I was like, ‘Well, this is never gonna hap­pen.’ … But bet­ter now than later. Some peo­ple it doesn’t hap­pen un­til they’ve passed, and you can’t re­ally en­joy it then, ex­cept from above. …

“It’s re­ally funny, be­cause I felt like I was al­ready in the Hall of Fame, with how suc­cess­ful the band has been.”

To put that in con­text, Jour­ney has sold more than 30 mil­lion al­bums in the U.S. alone. Schon said he re­spects all his 2017 class­mates, but he has a spe­cial place in his heart for a cou­ple of them.

“We opened up for ELO in the mid-’70s,” Schon said. “Jeff Lynne’s a great song­writer.

“Pearl Jam, I re­mem­ber be­ing in the stu­dio when their first record came out, and one of the A&R guys from a record la­bel came in and said ‘Hey, check out this new band, Pearl Jam.’ He put it on and I was like, ‘Wow, I think those guys are gonna do good.’ I dig what they do. They rock. It’s gonna be a good evening.’”

The one off note for the band mem­bers be­ing in­ducted is the one who is not. Cur­rent Jour­ney-men Schon, the band’s sole lifer; Jonathan Cain; Ross Valory and Steve Smith will en­ter with former mem­bers Gregg Rolie, Ayns­ley Dun­bar and Steve Perry, the leg­endary vo­cal­ist who steered the band through its ’80s peak.

Omit­ted is Pineda.

“Ar­nel de­serves a lot of kudos from ev­ery­body for keep­ing us float­ing for … this is gonna be his 10th year,” Schon said. “We’re mov­ing into big­ger places, some sta­di­ums. Things are pop­pin’, man.” For his part, Pineda has no prob­lem with the Hall of Fame par­tic­u­lars. He just hopes Perry shows up, so he can meet his idol.

“I hope he will sing with the band,” said Pineda on Tues­day, also call­ing from Seoul. “I’ve been dream­ing of that for a very long time, be­cause I’m such a big fan of the band and of Steve Perry.” His band­mates hope right along with him.

That said, they know get­ting the reclu­sive Perry to show is a long shot. He hasn’t per­formed with the band since 1991 and has been mum on the pos­si­bil­ity of re­u­nit­ing, even if only for the cer­e­mony and ac­com­pa­ny­ing con­cert in April. “Ar­nel will def­i­nitely be singing, and if Steve de­cides he wants to do some­thing. … No­body’s heard from him, so if he de­cides at the last se­cond, we’re ready for him … in any key,” Schon said with a laugh.

The Hall of Fame in­duc­tion will come in the mid­dle of their tour, on April 7. Jour­ney ar­rives in Hawaii on their way back from do­ing about a dozen shows in Asia and will next make its way across the main­land with fel­low ’80s rock­ers Asia.

Hawaii’s own Wil­lie K is slated to open the Hawaii shows. “Amaz­ing gui­tar player and singer,” Schon said. “So that’ll be re­ally fun, to see him.”

Even more than a week in ad­vance, Schon was al­ready look­ing for­ward to ar­riv­ing in Hawaii, and promis­ing a dy­namic show. He prom­ises fans will get their money’s worth.

“We’re play­ing over two hours,” he said. “A lot of mu­sic, a lot of im­pro­vi­sa­tion.”

The whole band was al­ready plan­ning how much ex­tra time to get in un­der the sun on the Hawai­ian sand.

“We love it there,” Schon said. “It’s storm­ing like hell at home (in the Bay Area). I don’t know if I want to go back to that right away.”


Jour­ney last played the Blais­dell Arena five years ago.

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