May 15, 2009 – An evening of fiery rock classics was in store for the Foreigner fans who packed themselves into the Treasure Island Casino for last night’s concert. Playing to a sold out and wildly energetic crowd, Foreigner matched that intensity as they kicked things into high gear and never looked back. They’re still a household name all these years later, and when delivering such an explosive set it’s no wonder why followers have stayed true to Foreigner. Guitarist and founding member Mick Jones is joined on stage by a perfect mix of incredibly talented musicians, and although their backgrounds couldn’t be more varied, there is a unique cohesiveness and an undeniable tightness to the band’s look and sound. Foreigner is setting out in 2009 to play even more shows than in years past as they journey overseas and through the United States. This is a band that is truly revitalized and in the midst of a roaring comeback into the mainstream as they connect and re-connect with fans new and old.
The crowd was ablaze with excitement as “Ladies and Gentlemen…please welcome Foreigner” blared through the sound system and the band ripped into “Double Vision“. The stage immediately became filled with action as singer Kelly Hansen emerged and took ownership of the occasion. His high notes were spot on and his energy was contagious; there was hardly a stand-still moment for this powerful vocalist. Guitar icon Mick Jones gave priceless facial expressions as he floored the crowd with guitar licks at Hansen’s side, and took center stage frequently as he brought classic Foreigner solos to life. Hansen and Jones make a great pairing and are able to brilliantly play off each other and the crowd – during “Cold As Ice” they parted ways as Hansen made his way into the audience and Jones held down the stage. It’s not easy to perform an intense catalog of rock anthems and ballads, but Kelly Hansen has proven himself as a versatile singer and as the man for this demanding job. The female fans in particular warmed up to him during the slower paced songs, and as he let it loose with screams and wails the entire crowd was left in awe.
Jeff Pilson, a founding member of Dokken, was truly in his element during the night as he rocked his head up and down and worked up a sweat pounding his bass guitar. There were no dull moments in watching him, and his backing vocals shined during a stripped down version of “Say You Will“. At his side, multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel made his presence known on the guitar, and of course on the saxophone during his silky, yet punchy “Urgent” solo. The sax is a key part of the band’s sound and Gimbel’s presence in the band for over a decade has helped in the crafting of new and reminiscent saxophone sounds alike. It was Michael Bluestein and Brian Tichy’s turn for the spotlight during the keyboard/drum solo in the lead-up to the anthemic “Jukebox Hero“. It’s not common to see a solo blended between the two instruments, but it works very well for Foreigner. Tichy’s experience was on display with an aggressive beat throughout the concert and a wild display during his solo.
Unwilling to let the rock end, the crowd grew loud in cheering the band to their three-song encore. “I Want to Know What Love Is” saw the crowd unleash themselves as Hansen called them closer to the stage. There was no hesitation as half the floor quickly shifted themselves through the barricades and began pounding fists with their rock heroes. As Pilson and Gimbel further explored the stage and worked the crowd, the looks on their faces made it clear that the fans weren’t the only ones who benefited from the more intimate moments. Whether behind the keyboards or playing the guitar, Mick Jones continued to impress and his passion for the music was always evident. He worked with the band to craft a brand new single in “Too Late” last year, and alerted the Red Wing crowd to the fact that the band is currently working on a full length studio album. The classics will never tire, but the new material is always a welcome addition. The show ended with the no one left sitting and a powerful energy in the air; the evening was made even more memorable as the band interacted with the crowd and Foreigner record sleeves began to surface above all the heads and hands.
There’s a reason why fans all over the world are demanding live Foreigner performances and snatching up the band’s albums at a fierce pace. The band just keeps getting better, and there’s no end in sight for this longstanding rock group. A blistering live performance of the signature songs delivered with unparalleled energy is the essence of Foreigner in concert today.