First, let’s get the white, bell-bottomed elephant out of the room. Steve Perry, one of the great voices of arena rock, is praised early and often in “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey,” this inspiring if sometimes slightly by-the-numbers documentary about the rise of his replacement, Arnel Pineda.
We even get to see clips of Perry during Journey’s late-’70s/early-’80s heyday. That’s a good thing, because Perry, the Howard Hughes of feather-haired rock, can’t be ignored. His voice defined one of the biggest bands of an era. It’s also a key reason why the tale of Pineda, who debuted as the band’s lead singer in 2008, is so stunning. Whether you love Journey or find them too schmaltzy, Perry would appear up there with Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury, and Steven Tyler as one of rock’s least-replaceable singers. The fact that Pineda has Perry down, whether hitting the high drama of “Open Arms” or the rat-a-tat phrasing of “Lights,” is no small feat. Pineda is also at least one hip replacement more nimble than the now-64-year-old belter, which has allowed Journey to return to an ambitious touring schedule.