By Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger
October 25, 2009, 1:29PM
The tour is called “David Foster and Friends.” And after more than 30 years as one of the pop world’s most successful songwriter-producers, Foster has plenty of friends to call on.
Peter Cetera (formerly of Chicago) and Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind and Fire) were there when the tour hit the Prudential Center in Newark, Saturday. So were Deborah Cox, “American Idol” alumni Ruben Studdard and Michael Johns, and the quartet, the Canadian Tenors. But the closing slot went to a woman who has not released an album in the United States yet: Charice, a 17-year-old from the Philippines who is well known her own country, and is being mentored by Foster for worldwide stardom.
She has a big voice and, like another Foster protege, Celine Dion, projects a sense of steely determination when she sings. In this show, she was called on to belt out songs Foster has produced and/or co-written for divas Dion (“The Power of Love”) and Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love You,” “I Have Nothing”), as well as her own Foster-produced single, “Note To God.” Her poise and vocal command were impressive, especially in light of her youth. She ended her memorable mini-set with “I Will Survive,” one of the few songs in the show that Foster didn’t write or produce.
As expected, it was an evening of clean-cut, immaculately crafted pop music. Foster never has been hip, but his knack for helping singers make the most of their talents — two of his recent finds are Josh Groban and Michael Buble — is beyond question.
Foster, 59, served as the show’s amiable host, and accompanied everyone on piano. At several points, he emphasized that this was the third show of his first tour, ever.
Johns sang two of Foster’s rock hits: “She’s a Beauty” and “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion),” recorded by the Tubes and John Parr, respectively. The show’s three backing vocalists, meanwhile, tackled the “West Side Story” ballad “Somewhere” (which Foster produced for Barbra Streisand) and “Got To Be Real,” his disco hit with Cheryl Lynn.
Studdard stood in for Al Jarreau (the swinging “Mornin'”) and All-4-One (the earnest “I Swear”), and brought a touch of blues grit to “Home,” a hit for both Buble and country singer Blake Shelton.
Cetera and Bailey sang some of the buttery pop-soul hits they have made with Foster, and also briefly touched on their non-Foster history — Bailey with an excerpt from “Easy Lover,” Cetera with “If You Leave Me Now.”
Foster will soon embark on his second tour, joining Andrea Bocelli to perform songs from Bocelli’s upcoming, Foster-produced holiday album, “My Christmas.” Stops will include the Izod Center in East Rutherford, Dec. 5.
Michael Johns singing “Man In Motion”David Foster and Friends NJ 10/24
Peter Cetera “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” at David Foster NYC 10/23
Michael Johns and Peter Cetera Hard Habit to Break
David Foster playing St. Elmo’s Fire theme song
David Foster and Friends: Ruben Studdard – I Swear
David Foster and Friends: Ruben Studdard – Home
David Foster and Friends (Chicago): Charice – Bodyguard Medley
David Foster & Friends (BOSTON): Charice – Somewhere Over The Rainbow
David Foster & Friends: Canadian Tenors – Halleluiah
David Foster & Friends (BOSTON): Charice – Note to God
David Foster & Friends (BOSTON): Charice – The Power of Love
Deborah Cox and Cody Karey “The Prayer” @ David Foster & Friends concert 2009 w/ Charice
David Foster and Friends – America’s Song – Boston 10/25/09
David Foster and Friends (New Jersey): Charice – “I Will Survive”
Deborah Cox – “Un-break My Heart” – David Foster & Friends Concert Tour, Chicago
Deborah Cox – “Through The Fire” – David Foster & Friends Concert Tour, Chicago