A classic rock, co-headlining bill featuring Journey and the Steve Miller Band comes to the Smoothie King Center on Sunday.
New Orleans apparently can’t get enough of Journey. The group previously played at the Smoothie King Center in 2009 and 2011 and, on a double bill with country group Rascal Flatts, The Sugar Mill in 2013.
The Steve Miller Band appeared at the Saenger Theatre last year. Sunday’s show also features the horns-powered Tower of Power, another classic rock act with roots in the San Francisco Bay area.
The current version of Journey features Filipino lead singer Arnel Pineda, the group’s latest replacement for Steve Perry. Also in the lineup are two original members, guitarist Neal Schon and bassist Ross Valory, plus keyboardist Jonathan Cain, who’s been with the band since 1981.
With Perry singing lead, Journey’s many hits included “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Anyway You Want It,” “Open Arms,” “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” “Who’s Crying Now” and “Lights.” Journey became the definition of classic rock when its 1970s and ’80s hits remained popular through the decades that followed.
“Don’t Stop Believin’,” Schon said, “has become this national anthem, world anthem. It’s really wild. If somebody plays it, no matter where, everybody sings it.”
“That’s the blessing, that the music is still popular,” Valory told The Advocate in 2013. “It’s become part of everyone’s lives. ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ ’ is an anthem for graduations, weddings, professional sports teams. You hear it everywhere because it’s got a simple, universal message that is applicable to so many different things.”
Journey broke up in 1989 then reunited briefly in 1993 without Perry. Perry rejoined in 1996 but soon left again, following ill health.
Following singer Steve Augeri’s eight years with Journey, Pineda joined the group for its 2008 album, “Revelation,” which became another of Journey’s platinum-selling albums. “Arnel brings the songs alive in the traditional sense, as they were originally recorded and performed with Steve Perry,” veteran Journey member Valory said. “But Arnel not only makes that music his own, he brings the Journey signature to songs that we’ve recorded more recently with him.”
Despite whatever newer songs Journey may play in concert, the band’s shows feature at least a dozen hits.
“I think we just got it right, you know?” Schon said. “We wrote a lot of really great songs, the three of us: myself, Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain. I think that’s why it’s etched in stone.”
Miller, aka the Gangster of Love, The Joker, Maurice and The Space Cowboy, started his co-headlining touring with Journey last May in San Diego.
Like Journey, Miller has many crowd-pleasing hits in his discography: “Livin’ In the U.S.A.,” “The Joker,” “Rock ‘n Me,” “Fly Like An Eagle,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Jet Airliner,” “Jungle Love.”
In 2014, Miller, 71, released an in-concert version of “The Joker” album to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
In 2010, Miller released two new studio albums, the No. 1 one blues album “Bingo” and follow-up “Let Your Hair Down.” They were the first new albums from him in 18 years. That year, too, he returned to Europe for the first time in 25 years, playing a tour that climaxed with a sold-out show at Royal Albert Hall.
A native of Milwaukee, Miller spent formative years in Dallas, where he began performing the music of Bobby Bland, Jimmy Reed and Bill Doggett and the other rhythm-and-blues stars. Moving to Chicago, he formed the Goldberg Miller Blues Band. Following an extended engagement in New York City, Miller moved to the musical hotbed of San Francisco. In that then vastly musical city, the newly launched Steve Miller Band shared bills with the The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service and others.
Since the release of his album debut, 1968’s “Children of the Future,” Miller has sold more than 40 million records.
“My goal when I play is to bring joy to my audience,” Miller said in a 2014 interview. “I’m trying to create a joyous event. Music is a way of communicating that’s very ethereal. It goes forwards, it goes backward in time. You’re taking people to the future and to the past, and you’re creating this event that’s very emotional.”