MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rock history went down Sunday night at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater and no one in the audience knew it was coming. Journey’s Steve Perry performed in public for the first time in nearly two decades.

Fans, like Seth Hynes-Marquette, thought they’d signed up only to see indie rock band Eels, until the lead singer made an announcement.

“They’re just like here’s a guy who hasn’t performed in 20 years and he decided to show up tonight and Steve Perry walks out,” Hynes-Marquette said.

Ali Lozoff captured the 10-minute surprise performance on her cell phone from the sixth row.

“It was one of the most surreal and surprising things I’ve ever seen on a stage,” Lozoff said.

Perry sang three songs. One of them was an Eels song and the other two were Journey classics, “Open Arms” and “Lovin, Touchin’ Squeezin’.”

Tom Campbell, a production manager at The Fitz for 22 years, said Perry seemed right at home on stage and off.

“He definitely was really into it. He was very excited, he was walking around pacing backstage,” he said.

Perry is longtime friends with members of the group Eels, Campbell said, and has been attending their rehearsals for the tour. He had even rehearsed this performance, showing up at 10 a.m. the day of for sound check.

Perry retired from Journey in 1998. His St. Paul live performance, believed to be the first in 19 years, is trending on social media.

“The whole country is talking about it now,” said Hynes-Marquette.

A national talker for rock fans, but for those there that night, an unforgettable moment in music history.

“As somebody who as a tween-ager sang those songs along on vinyl record, it was a memory I wish cherish,” said Lozoff.

Steve Perry is long-time friends with members of the group Eels and has been attending all of their rehearsals for the tour. He had even rehearsed this performance, showing up for sound check at 10 a.m. that day.

But why did Steve Perry pick St. Paul? Some speculate that it’s because the Fitzgerald — home to “A Prairie Home Companion” — is a historic theater. Others just speculate that Perry likes St. Paul.

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