–by Sean Derrick
After 47 years classic rock icons Foreigner have embarked on a final “Farewell” tour, and on Wednesday they made a stop in Saint Louis to a nearly full Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre to say goodbye and let their fans return the love.
Foreigner brought Canadian rockers Loverboy as the opening act who brought the crowd to their feet with an hour long set that included “Lovin’ Every Minute of It”, “Turn Me Loose”, and “Working for the Weekend”. Vocalist Mike Reno still has the chops to get a crowd pumped.
Foreigner came on headfirst into a setlist filled with hits, starting with “Double Vision” and “Head Games”. Vocalist Kelly Hansen was his usual boundless bundle of energy even in an environment of high humidity. While the humidity may have drenched him in sweat his voice was unaffected, adding “Everything you hear tonight is played live, no computer bullshit.” Yeah, the crowd certainly enjoyed that.
The band (Hansen, Bassist Jeff Pilson, keyboardist Michael Bluestein, guitarists Bruce Watson and Luis Maldonado, and drummer Chris Frazier) were able to change up the tempo with an acoustic set of “When it Comes to Love” from their 2009 album Can’t Slow Down, a really deep deep cut with “Girl on the Moon” from the 1981 smash album 4, and a slightly rearraigned version of “Say You Will”.
One noticeable item was that the normally hyperactive Pilson was performing sitting on a stool the entire set. Hansen revealed that Pilson had injured his back before the tour began when he was building a new chicken coop at his farm in California. (Hey Jeff, why does a chicken coop only have two doors? Because if it had four doors it would be a sedan.[cue the rimshot here] Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Don’t worry, I won’t quit my day job.)
Hansen talked about the legacy of Foreigner and how the music resonates with fans who are “experienced” and those younger fans, as well. He reiterated this by asking those who were over 40 if they ever had to rewind a cassette tape by hand, to which he followed up by questioning what kind of pencil it was. After the majority of the audience thrust two fingers in the air Hansen wondered out loud if the under-40 crowd was wondering what the Hell he was talking about. Hansen is a true frontman. That, coupled with his voice, was surely the main reasons Mick Jones chose him to be the permanent vocalist after Gramm left. It’s too bad Mick wasn’t feeling well enough to play Wednesday as he is still battling from ailments that have plagued him for the past decade.
Mick has been the one constant throughout the band’s history that has had a list of current and former members (27) and touring musicians (12) that they could almost start their own 8-team bowling league (if everyone was still alive). Sure, there are the naysayers who complain that Foreigner is just a cover band without Mick. Or better yet, those self-anointed purists that whine about how (insert band name here) isn’t really (insert band name here) because it isn’t the “original lineup” and they won’t pay to see anything but the original lineup. Well, I guess they won’t be seeing the majority of bands since most bands have at least one lineup change. Sure, there are those few exceptions like U2, ZZ Top (before Dusty Hill passed on), Coldplay, Muse, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Garbage, and Rammstein, to name a few. But there aren’t too many beyond that who started before the turn of the century.
Hell, the original lineup of Foreigner only lasted 3 years before bassist Ed Gagliardi left in 1979 followed quickly by the dismissal of guitarist Ian McDonald and keyboardist Al Greenwood in 1980. Drummer Dennis Elliott parted ways in 1993 and vocalist Lou Gramm left for good (he split for a couple of years in the early 1990s) in 2003.
Foreigner is a band filled with members that are carrying on the legacy of their great catalog of music. Mick formed the band, it was his project from the beginning. He has earned the right (and he literally owns the rights to the name) then he can dictate how they want to say farewell. It makes total sense to want to do one more big tour to go out on top. It sure as Hell makes more sense than quietly drifting away. Besides, this gives the fans one final chance to see the band they have loved for 47 years (The large crowd in Saint Louis certainly appreciated it). Hopefully Mick will feel well enough to perform more shows soon. In the meantime fans can expect a 100-minute show where the current members are fully emersed in and dedicated to carrying on the Foreigner legacy for the fans.
You can catch Foreigner on tour which currently runs into November at www.foreigneronline.com/tour
Be sure to check out the photo gallery from the show after the setlist below.
Cold as Ice
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
When It Comes to Love (acoustic)
Girl on the Moon (Acoustic) (First time played in Saint Louis)
Say You Will (Acoustic)
Feels Like the First Time
Juke Box Hero (Kelly Hansen started the song atop a 20 foot riser by the soundboard)
I Want to Know What Love Is