Eels bring Journey’s Steve Perry back to the stage 

click to enlarge Eels — fronted by E — are playing from the reflective new album “The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett” in San Francisco this week. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Eels — fronted by E — are playing from the reflective new album “The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett” in San Francisco this week.

Eels anchor E is proud of some fairly recent milestones.

He loved how his wry "I Like the Way This is Going" meshed with the closing credits of James Gandolfini's final 2013 flick, "Enough Said." And he also is pleased with "Cold Dead Hand," the campy anti-gun song and video he worked on with Jim Carrey.

He also is promoting his new Eels album, on a tour that brings him to San Francisco this week. "The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett" (his real name) includes the reflective ditties "Where I'm From," "Where I'm At," "Where I'm Going" and the kickoff single "Mistakes of My Youth."

Yet he has another monumental accomplishment: He lured reclusive ex-Journey vocalist Steve Perry back into the spotlight -- literally.

The surreal summit occurred in Minneapolis over Memorial Day weekend, when Perry, one of rock's most majestic voices, stepped out at an Eels concert to croon two Journey classics, "Open Arms" and "Lovin', Touchin, Squeezin'," plus the droll Eels chestnut "It's A Motherf----r."

E is still reeling from the unexpected honor.

"Before we left on tour, we'd played a few things in rehearsal with Steve singing, and we just decided, 'Well, that was awesome. But that's probably going to be the end of it,'" he says. "So it wasn't until he was onstage with us that we realized it was really happening."

This collaboration actually began 10 years ago, when E heard from his management that Perry -- who was recruiting co-writers such as Dan Wilson and Catherine Wheel's Rob Dickinson for a second solo album -- was attending Eels gigs and wanted to meet him.

"I was freaked out about it," he says. "Because one of the things that I didn't fully appreciate in my younger days was Journey. And I just felt like, 'Oh, this is awkward. I don't know what to say if I meet him.' So I just avoided him for years."

Once the pair finally met, a friendship developed. Perry would drop by E's house for croquet parties, or visit his studio to quietly audit Eels rehearsals.

"And the band would bait him by starting a Journey song on the guitar, but he'd never grab the microphone -- he'd just laugh," E says. "But this year, something had changed. He was carrying his own microphone, and he said, 'Maybe I'll come out and sing with you guys.'"

E -- now a huge Journey fan -- admits the teamup appealed to his sense of humor.

"The best part was that it was this total non sequitur to the audience that night," he says, chuckling. "When I said 'Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Perry!' they thought I was joking. But then he really came out!"



Where: Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $50

Contact: (415) 563-6504,

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Tom Lanham

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