Saturday, March 29, 2008
Red Robinson Theatre
Coquitlam, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
Flashback to 1982. A nervous young boy approaches the girl to dance at the roller-skating rink. His nerves get the better of him but soon he hears it, the pounding heartbeat-like intro to “Juke Box Hero,” and suddenly the power chord swell gives him the added chutzpah to go for broke.
Yes, that anxiety-ridden lad was yours truly and this remains my earliest memory of hearing the music of Foreigner. From 1977 to 1984, the band released a string of timeless albums that are now part of the classic rock canon. Spawning hit after hit of FM radio staples, Foreigner was powered by the monster riffs of Mick Jones and the distinctive vocals of Lou Gramm. By 1987, internal turmoil caused the band to splinter after INSIDE INFORMATION. A pair of poorly-received albums released in the first half of the nineties were an indication of the changing musical climate and eventually led to the demise of Foreigner. Gramm’s return to the band a few years later was cut short after being diagnosed with a brain tumor but he has since rebounded and continued on with a successful solo career that has ventured into the Christian rock genre.
For his part, Jones (the only member remaining from the “classic” Foreigner lineup) has assembled a stellar band including ex-Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson, former Hurricane vocalist Kelly Hansen, RockStar Supernova/INXS keyboardist Paul Mirkovich and drummer Jason Bonham. Coming off the high-profile gig of opening for the reunited Led Zeppelin in England last December, Foreigner stopped by Coquitlam for a ninety-minute set of fan favourites that covered all the hits.
Hansen, a dead-ringer for Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, is very close in style to Gramm and he nailed all the notes, plus added an amazing amount of stage presence. During “Cold As Ice,” Hansen leapt from the stage and ran fifty feet up the centre of the seats to join the delighted crowd for a chorus. Later, Hansen’s inspirational sermon to introduce “I Want To Know What Love Is” had his “congregation” in the palm of his hands as everyone in the sold-out venue sang at the tops of their lungs. Assisting Hansen on vocals was the metalized Pilson, never missing a moment to headbang and adding an integral piece to the three-part harmonies of the acoustic version of “Say You Will.” Bonham, son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and leader of his own band in the late eighties, was simply a treat to watch. After an amazing drum solo, a nod was given to Bonham’s history as the band tacked on a few bars of “Whole Lotta Love” at the end of “Juke Box Hero.” Besides kicking into all the familiar riffs of “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Dirty White Boy” and “Urgent,” Jones had his own moment to shine as he tackled the lead vocals of the obscure fan favourite “Starrider” from the band’s 1977 self-titled debut. Even long-time rhythm guitarist Tom Gimbel got his time to shine during the hot sax solo of “Urgent,” blowing like a madman to the enthusiastic and appreciative crowd that had gathered at the front of the stage to dance the night away.
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
That Was Yesterday
Say You Will
Feels Like The First Time
Juke Box Hero
Long, Long Way From Home
I Want To Know What Love Is
While Foreigner in 2008 is a shadow of the lineup that made albums like DOUBLE VISION, HEAD GAMES and the career-defining 4, Mick Jones has assembled a truly magnificent band to treat fans to a nostalgia-filled evening, this being the second of two consecutive sold-out shows. A new album is rumoured to be in the works and while that audience may be limited, there is no doubt Foreigner can still draw an impressive and passionate crowd out to hear the band’s classic material.
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***Thanks to Donnie at Great Canadian Casinos for the press pass.