So Foreigner are in town and it’s not with Lou Gramm, who left the band in 2003. Gramm was replaced by Johnny Edwards in 1990, the lineup that produced the unsuccessful, but underrated Unusual Heat in 1991 and then just over a year later, Lou rejoined the band. What?
Anyway, that lineup somehow lasted until 2003, when Gramm quit again. To be honest, after all his treatment for a brain tumor he’d fought against and won during the late 90s, you could hardly blame him for quitting. I thought that would be it, but no, Lou Gramm did indeed tour with his own band and continues to do so today, but sadly, in the eyes of many people, he’s really no longer up to par.
Well, in 2005 Mick Jones announced a new Foreigner that included long time cohorts keyboards man Jeff Jacobs (since 1993) and Thom Gimbel – guitars, sax, flute, you name it (since 1995).
Then came new band members Jeff Pilson on bass (possibly best recognized for his role in Steel Dragon, the band created in the movie Rock Star with Mark Wahlberg, or for his role as a member of both Dokken and Ratt) then Jason Bonham on drums, no introduction needed for the man who’s followed very successfully in his father's (the late Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham) footsteps, and then on lead vocals one Kelly Hansen, ex of the band Hurricane. What a find this guy is for Jones!
In the first year together they released the Extended Versions live album, which, I have to say, blew me away. So finally after two years of this Foreigner line up, I get to see them live!
They opened with "Double Vision." Wow! Kelly has pipes and the guy looks like a 20- or 30-something Steven Tyler and boy, doesn't he ever stop running around?!
They follow this with an excellent rendition of "Head Games." I could see certain members complain to the sound crew that their mics weren’t right, but out front it continued to improve as they launched into "Cold As Ice." Kelly thought he’d make friends in Detroit by jumping out into the crowd, running up through the pavilion across one of the back rows and back up on stage again. He’d got the crowd eating out of his hands!
"Blue Morning" followed, which once more sounded so fresh. He really has this Foreigner gig figured out big time.
Time to slow it down with the huge hit that in fact tagged Foreigner as a successful ballad band, "Waiting For A Girl Like You." It’s a shame that so many people recall these guys so much more for their ballads than their unquestionably hard rock songs!
A little chat from Kelly leads into him asking the crowd if there are any naughty girls out there, for the "Dirty White Boy(s)" up on stage! Cue THAT song!
An interesting version of "Say You Will" was presented next, in an unplugged style, with just guitars, keys and vocals. Again, how well this guy carries this stuff is fantastic.
Still Feels Like the First Time
A very old classic follows next in "Starrider," a huge masterpiece of a song, which is then followed by the introductions of each band member. As Jason Bonham is introduced, he teases the crowd with the intro to Led Zep’s "Rock and Roll." Mick then starts to riff on guitar, then stops and says, "Not now, maybe later."
"Feels Like The First Time" plays to huge applause, but, to be honest, the crowd seems to have been behind this Foreigner lineup all night!
The next track starts with some fooling around by Jones on the guitar. People in the crowd are looking at each other thinking that this doesn’t sound familiar, then I get a hint in Mick’s guitar sound and sure enough, it's "Urgent." Thom Gimbel comes stomping out with the opening sax riff and yep, it’s urgent alright. Great track, which then leads into Jason Bonham’s drum solo.
It must be getting close to the end. When they jam the sounds of the "Juke Box Hero" intro, the crowd is at fever pitch when midway through, they launch into Led Zep’s "Whole Lotta Love" from the live album released two years back. This closes the set, and wow! That was great! Sure enough, the crowd gets the band back out, for "Long, Long Way From Home." Fantastic stuff!
They’re not done, as Kelly Hansen start messing with some gospel touches, almost like Jon Bon Jovi does in the Bon Jovi live set. He starts by saying, "I gotta question for ya. I wanna ask you something. Can you sing, Detroit? 'Cause I really need you now to help me here. 'I Want To Know What Love Is'!" The band does it really well, and the crowd isn’t too sloppy either!
Well, there’s one track I knew they just had to play that they hadn't. Sure enough, "Hot Blooded" rocks the night out!
Very good night, indeed. Catch Foreigner live if you can, but make sure it’s Mick’s gang!
I'll rate it 4.5 out of 5, only because they were rocking so well, the ballads killed some of the momentum. But were still class!