Live at the E-Center
Camden, NJ

JOURNEY: This show was billed as the ultimate 70s-rock fantasy with the undefeated heavyweight champs of AOR/FM classic rock together on the same stage. If dreams were ever answered for America’s female population, this was it; and it guaranteed to soak every seat in the house. The package deal did not come without its share of wear and tear. Journey’s long-time frontman Steve Perry was a no show (due to continued health problems). Foreigner’s frontman did show (even after brain cancer almost claimed his life). Both bands survived their “trial by fire” and, after their showing on the North American tour, still have a firm grip on their title belts.

Last year Journey replaced Steve Perry with Brooklyn, New York, native Steve Augeri (Tall Stories, Tyketto) after a nagging ankle injury took Perry off the scheduled 1997 tour in support of ‘Trial By Fire,’—the group’s comeback record. Many were skeptical about anyone’s ability to step in for Perry’s pipes, but Augeri nailed it with piercing conviction. A new vocalist meant a new single to usher in the next phase for Journey: ‘Remember Me’ off the Armageddon soundtrack did just the trick.

The band members are perfectionists in the studio, but live is where they really pack a punch. Having introduced Augeri to the fans in a swing of theater shows last winter, original members Neal Schon (g) and Ross Valory (b), as well as long timer Jonathan Cain (k), were joined by drummer Deen Castronovo for a full-on arena assault.

Fans were immediately put at ease by Augeri’s astonishing control of the older Journey material with his rogue swagger. Perry’s name easily slipped from memory as the hits rolled out with immaculate precision. ‘Who’s Crying Now,’ ‘Be Good To Yourself,’ and ‘Wheel In The Sky’ were absolutely stunning. Journey promises a new effort by early 2000.

FOREIGNER: gets the award for tough-as-nails, all-out effort. Two years ago Lou Gramm, the band’s vocalist for over twenty years, underwent brain surgery to remove a benign tumor deep within the center of his cerebrum nestled next to the pituitary gland. The tumor was removed but damage was done to his short-term memory and his pituitary gland (which caused some weight gain). After nearly a year of hard work and therapy, Gramm has made remarkable progress back to good health. His pitch is dead-on and, aside from missing a few lyrics here and there, he performed like the true showman he is.

Surrounding Gramm are founder Mick Jones (g), Black Sheep buddy, Bruce Turgon (b), Jeff Jacobs (k), Brian Tichy (d), and Thom Gimbel (sax). The six make quite a dramatic impact when they lock in on ‘Cold As Ice,’ ‘Hot Blooded,’ and ‘Juke Box Hero.’ Foreigner have aged well and their no-nonsense rock is built to last; and last it has. Our best wishes to Lou Gramm for a complete recovery.