Foreigner, Styx, & Don Felder Bring The Soundtrack of Summer to Jones Beach, NY 6-28-14

Foreigner, Styx, & Don Felder Bring The Soundtrack of Summer to Jones Beach, NY 6-28-14

With the weather finally heating up in the Northeastern territory of North America, so is the sound of classic rock.  Starting out in May, Foreigner, Styx, and Don Felder joined forces for The Soundtrack of Summer Tour which spans until the end of July.  With discography’s riddled with songs that provoke thoughts of days in the sun laying on the beach, each band acts as co-headliners for this run of dates.  On what seemed to be a picture perfect evening on Long Island, the tour rolled into Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY Saturday June 28th.  With Independence Day a week away, patrons could almost smell summer and that sense of excitement was in the air as they piled into the amphitheater.

Starting the evening off was Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and former Eagles lead guitarist Don Felder.  Spending time with the Eagles between 1974 and 1980 and again when they reunited in 1994 until 2001, Felder has been credited as the piece which helped the band add a harder rock edge to their sound.  Outside the Eagles, Felder continues to create music with memorable songs on a variety of soundtracks as well as two solo albums.  Now in 2014 Felder re-releases his 2012 album Road To Forever in an extended edition featuring four new songs, and what better way to celebrate then on tour.

Opening with Eagles song “Already Gone” Felder took on lead vocals singing strongly and jamming on his guitar.  With an all-star backing band of  bassist/ backing vocals Shem von Schroeck (Kenny Loggins), guitarist Greg Suran (Goo Goo Dolls), drummer Steve DiStanislao AKA Stevie D (David Gilmour), and keyboardist Timothy Drury (Eagles, Whitesnake) each track sounded full of energy.  Going into another Eagles favorite “One of These Nights”, Felder hit it right on with the ripping guitar solo and Schroeck pitch perfect high note backing vocals.  Having everyone on their feet Felder played a rocking newer solo tune named “You Don’t Have Me”.  The song featured some heavy guitar work and a sound that had everyone smiling.  Those smiles did not fade as Felder and company went into Eagles tune “Victim of Love”.  Speaking to the audience and seeming to be excited to be performing Felder explained the next track was one the Eagles used to play backstage when warming up for a show and it was seldom heard live.  On the edge of seat fans waited and the Steve Young cover of  “Seven Bridges Road” began.  Full of harmonies and colorful guitar playing, it was a treat to hear and Felder moved onto “Witchy Woman”, his soundtrack tune “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)”, followed by more Eagles classics “Heartache Tonight” and “Life in Fast Lane”.  With excellent showmanship Felder had expressions of passion upon his face as he played his guitar perfectly.  Exiting for a minute, Felder returned with the rest of his band and Tommy Shaw and Todd Sucherman of Styx to play a unforgettable version of “Hotel California”.   Be sure to arrive early to catch this rock-n-roll legend live in the flesh.

Next was progressive rock classics Styx.  Begun all the way back in 1961 the band has sustained an amazing career with a list of multi-platinum records and songs that have stood the test of time.  While the concept of a reunion with original member Dennis DeYoung has been discussed numerous times since his departure in 1999, Styx still plugs on with the exciting line-up of James “J.Y.” Young (guitar, backing and lead vocals), Tommy Shaw (guitar, lead and backing vocals), Todd Sucherman (drums), Lawrence Gowan on lead and backing vocals, keyboards), Ricky Phillips  (bass), and  Chuck Panozzo  (bass, backing vocals) as a an occasional live guest.

Jump starting the energy with “The Grand Illusion”, the prog-rock tones were felt immediately.  While on a platform playing his piano, Gowan sang strongly as Young and Shaw moved around the stage dazzling on guitar.  Going into “Too Much Time on My Hands,” following with “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man),” a surprise was unleashed on Jones Beach when Panozzo came onto the stage to perform with the band.  As an original member of Styx it was inspiring to see him performing live on tracks throughout the set. Switching on the massive bright screens behind them, the hits kept on coming with Gowan continuing a spectacular display of singing on “Lady”.

With the set at the near midway point Young proceeded to engage the crowd with friendly conversation and ask them to put their lighters and cellphones in the air for “Light Up.”  Illuminating the dusk-filled sky the song magically provoked a mood which bled into Shaw’s spectacularly emotional performance of “Crystal Ball” and “Superstar.”  Continuing to amazing, Shaw kept on with the harmonized echoes of backing vocals for “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” to which the band invited Don Felder to come out and rock with them.  With Styx and the audience having an absolutely splendid time everyone was tested with a game of classic rock trivia as Gowan played portions of The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,”  Paul McCartney’s “Live And Let Die,” Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.”  It is safe to say everyone passed the test with flying colors, singing along with each tune enthusiastically as Gowen led them into “Come Sail Away.”  With the night completely settled in and the cool breeze coming off the bay the scene was picturesque for the performance of this fan-favorite track.   Exiting on that note, Styx were back within the blink of an eye to perform a intense encore led off by “Rockin’ the Paradise” featuring Gowen dancing around like Michael Jackson as he sung.  Climactic and inspiring, the encore exploded with hard rocking tune “Renegade.”  As entertaining and fresh as ever, Styx put on one heck of a show that reminded these concert goers why they love the band so much.

Grabbing their breath and refreshments, everyone awaited the final act of the evening in Foreigner.  Formed back in 1976, Foreigner have  celebrated a music career unlike any other.  With one hit single after another they have sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands ever.  As the brainchild of guitarist Mick Jones along with Ian McDonald and vocalist Lou Gramm, Foreigner were an unstoppable rock force for two decades.  Weathering the winds of change of members, most notably Gramm, Foreigner have triumphed onward with a new line-up of former Hurricane frontman Kelly Hansen (vocals),  Tom Gimbel (guitar/saxophone), Jeff Pilson (bass), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Chris Frazier (drums), and Bruce Watson (guitar) filling in for Jones.   Now returning to Nikon at Jones Beach Theater for the first time since 2011, Foreigner is back.

Like a house on fire the band ignited on the stage with “Double Vision,” “Head Games,” and “Cold as Ice.”  Each tune sounded as electric as the one prior while Hansen showed tremendous stamina singing and bouncing around.  Keeping everyone’s eyes fixed on the stage Hansen even hopped into the crowd running up and down the aisles, climbing over seats, and slapping hands with the audience.  Not normally seen, this type of stage persona is exactly what fans love to see when they come to a concert.  Moving along in the set the tempo settled down with the warm keyboard opening of Bluestein on “Waiting for a Girl Like You.”  With couples in the audience embracing one another the vibes of love were tingling through the floor. Moments after they erupted into applause. The band then brought out an extra special guest, introducing Mick Jones himself to fittingly perform “Feels Like The First Time.”  Limiting his live performances since 2011 due to health issues, Jones was in high spirits and performing at an elevated level on guitar.  This had his band mates’ blood pumping, as well as that of the dedicated fans observing the spectacle.

Wasting no time and moving at a rapid speed, “Urgent” was next and Hansen continued his spectacular display of energy with heightened vocals and captivating emotion.  Watching the frontman lose himself in the performance and give the audience everything he had was moving as well as entertaining.  He even reached down into the audience, borrowing a photographer’s camera and snapping shots of each member on stage and the crowd before handing the equipment back.  With Jones remaining on stage the band played on with the early gem “Starider.”  Not performed live by Foreigner in some time, the soundscape of the dream-like track was mesmerizing.  They concluded the set with “Juke Box Hero,” getting everyone on their feet with their hands in the air and singing along.  Jones’ guitar playing glimmered bright with a noteworthy solo which was greeted by a wall of cheers.

For the encore the band offered up one of the biggest hits in “I Want To Know What Love Is.”  Adding to the ambiance of the song, local Uniondale High School choir was featured on stage  to sing along.  Another moment for couples to indulge themselves, people were spotted hugging, kissing, and shouting out the words with affection.  Adding to the mood an illustrious laser light show beamed into the night, making it a romantic moment no one will forget.  Leaving everyone on a high, the set ended with the testosterone boosting rocker “Hot Blooded.” With so much great music packed into such a short duration Foreigner showed why they are still one of the best rock bands in the world.  Catch The Soundtrack of Summer tour before the sun sets July 27th.

 

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Frank Malerba
frank@crypticrock.com
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