JOURNEY & DEF LEPPARD
Friday June 23, 2006 Tweeter Center
Camden, New Jersey
by Johnny Rogers, field correspondent for TCE
O.K. before we roll with this review, I need to address something very important. If you would, please give me your undivided attention.... Ladies and gentleman, in case there is any misunderstanding or doubts about something that we have had the pleasure of witnessing for many years, be it known for absolute certainty that Journey vocalist and frontman Steve Augeri is nothing below the level of BRILLIANT! He is stunning as a singer, frontman, songwriter, professional entertainer and a very cool, humble, and down to earth guy.
Any talk before this tour of his use of tapes for live shows are irrelevant. I have heard this guy belt it out for many years with Journey and the band Tall Stories. With both bands, he has never been anything but a powerhouse vocalist. He is definitely in the leagues of Steve Perry, Mickey Thomas and other vocal greats of our day. I for one can definitely tell you that I have never seen Steve Augeri use vocal tapes in the past. Even if he were to have used tapes to help with his performance for a short time it would definitely be due to a serious medical condition - that we now have found out is the case. Due to the fact that this review is a little late in being printed - this story has taken on a few new chapters.
As we are all now aware, Augeri has very regretfully had to leave the tour due to his chronic throat condition. He has been replaced on this tour with another vocal great, Jeff Scott Soto, who has played with Neal Schon in Soul Sirkus. Being familiar with his work in the past, there is no doubt that Jeff will do justice to the great Journey catalogue adding his own flair and color to the songs. So with that said, let's wish Jeff the best in a very hard role to fill and also wish Steve a speedy recovery and return to the band.
Now on with the review of the Journey/Def Leppard show for Friday June 23, 2006
The Journey line up of Neal Schon (guitar), Jonathan Cain (keyboards, guitar), Ross Valory (bass), Steve Augeri (vocals) and Deen Castronovo (drums,vocals) joined us this night. The weather outside in New Jersey was a hot 90-degrees with high humidity. It matched well the tour landing here tonight. This is without a doubt the hottest concert of the summer. After a slight delay with the start time, Journey stormed the stage with full light show and large Trinitron screens backing the band. The boys ripped through a diverse hit-filled set opening up with “Faith in the Heartland” and straight into “Separate Ways.” Neal (Schon) cut through the roaring crowd with his six-string saber. The guitarist set the tone for the night by laying down a tasteful crunch-laden barrage packed with emotional scales.
After Schon’s symphonic solo, the band went into “Stone in Love” and then Steve (Augeri) handed the lead vocal over to Deen (Castronovo) for “Where Were You?” With the great singing skills of Castronovo, it just goes to prove how deep the vocal prowess of this band is. However, it was obvious from the first song that Augeri was definitely under the weather and not in normal voice. His dim presentation and delivery were not the same as the man that we are use to seeing. There were times during his performance that it looked as though he may have been in some pain. Even with this unfortunate situation he delivered a very respectable performance with the help of the band…and I repeat, there were no tapes being used on this stage tonight.
The set continued on with the familiar guitar riff opening of “Wheel in the Sky” and then Castronovo returned on vocals with “Keep On Running.” Next came a killer version of “Lights” into “Still They Ride” with Deen once again on vocals. For the next song Jonathan Cain took over lead vocal for the song “Every Generation.” Cain, as usual delivered a stellar performance of guitar/keyboard wizardry and vocals. Castronovo took to the mic once again for a very powerful moody version of “Mother, Father.” Then went right into the song “Escape” with Augeri and the drummer splitting vocal duties.
Journey ended their set with powerful versions of “Faithfully” and “Don't Stop Believing.” After a few minutes of crowd appreciation, the boys returned to the stage with a magnificent encore of “Anyway You Want It” and “Be Good to Yourself.” Although not in perfect condition, Ross, Dean, Jonathan, Neal & Steve delivered the goods, as usual. Great job - and thanks again guys.
After a longer than usual break, Def Leppard took the stage. They kicked off with a rockin’ version of The Sweet classic “Hellraiser,” then launched right into the crunching guitar riff of “Let It Go.” The band looks to be in great shape, fit and rocking for the upcoming tour.
[Unfortunately photographic proof of this is not available as we were turned down for photo clearance by the Def Leppard camp at the last minute. Maybe something to think about guys: turning down rock ‘n roll web sites to review your shows in the 21st century is probably not a very smart idea - just a thought. When was the last time most people picked up a rock ‘n roll magazine, instead of punching up their favorite bands news and reviews on the web, thanks.]
After vocalist Joe Elliott addressed the crowd and fired up the masses - Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen delivered the twin guitar thunder of “Make Love Like A Man.” The band took full advantage of the catwalks and stage space to perform a tight, hit-heavy set with cool images flashing up on the screens behind them. The instantly recognizable guitar of “Promises” filled the air, then into the Badfinger classic “No Matter What.” Another cover, this time Blondie's “Hangin' on the Telephone” (featured on the band’s current Yeah CD) greeted the crowd.
If time would have allowed, it would have been cool to hear some of the other great cover songs off the new CD. Next on the list was the mega hit “Hysteria” and then a short but very cool Rick Savage bass solo leading into the David Essex glam anthem “Rock On.” Crowd participation was heavy in this one. An extended version of “Rock It” came next with accompanying images on the screens. Phil & Vivian’s guitar work was savage as usual. The guitar tones were thick and melodic with a lot of crunch. The bass tones were also very powerful, being a big help in the outdoor venue.
The band broke into the chord heard around the world from the Pyromania album “Photograph” to a huge rush from the crowd. The next two songs were the hits “Armageddon It” and “Animal” before closing the main set with Joe Elliott handing the introduction duties to “Rock of Ages” over to the multi-talented Rick Allen. I’m still waiting to see this man awarded with some kind of superhuman achievement award. The band bowed and left the stage. The crowd exploded in appreciation of a well-performed set. It was great to hear so much noise from an audience so diverse in age. Great to see that appreciation of this type of music is still strong, doubly proven by the soldout crowd at the Tweeter Center. Both inside seats and the lawn were full to the hilt.
After a few minutes of thundering applause the lights appeared again and Joe laid down an emotional vocal performance of the hit “Love Bites” before the bands biggest hit “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Another great show with all of the expected Leppard ingredients. Thanks guys for a killer set. Overall, for the first show of the tour - I would say it was a very strong performance by both bands. Everyone seemed hungry to rock and excited with the crowd response. One small wish on a personal level for the Leppards would be to, in some way, incorporate material from the first album and more of the second. You may have to start doing the extended Bruce Springsteen length set to pull this off.
Hopefully I will be able to cover one of the last shows of the tour back here in New Jersey. After a full summer tour, that would bring everything into perfect synch. I need to shout out special thanks to Amanda Cagan for always keeping us connected to the Journey camp. Megan Moffet for trying at the Leppard camp. Hopefully we can hook it up better at the end of the tour. A very special thanks to Connie at the Tweeter Center, you are always working hard. A very very special thanks to Erin Dougherty for help with my memory and Morten G.P. for the fingers on the computer (he's the Real Deal) and Jim Rice for use of the computer and for always rockin' rollin' & out of controllin'. Last but not least, the crews of Journey, led by John JT Toomey, and Def Leppard, led by Malvin Mortimer. Great work guys. You make the show happen.
Photographs by Johnny Rogers
Websites: Def Leppard, Journey, Jeff Scott Soto