The much-celebrated Rock band Foreigner fired up its U.S. summer concert tour engine on July 11th in Syracuse, New York. A band which has dedicated themselves to touring heavily over the years, this is an extra special tour, in fact, it is Foreigner’s 40th Anniversary Tour. Quite a milestone, Foreigner are a band which has 10 multi-platinum albums, 16 Top 30 hits, and worldwide album sales exceeding 75 million. Whew! Amazingly enough, even still, the band has yet to be rightfully inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. What gives? Nonetheless, the band with some of the most recognized Rock songs over the past four decades continues on in celebration of their tremendous accomplishments, bringing their fans exactly what they deserve, a great Rock-n-Roll show, oh, and some pleasant surprises as well.
The celebratory blaze emanating from the flame throwing exhaust pipes of the high-performance band caravan will continue to gather strength and sweep across the US landscape, leaving a trail of smoldering embers in its wake through September before they head to Canada come October. Along for the ride, special guest Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience (son of Led Zeppelin legendary drummer John Bonham) and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recipient Cheap Trick will be an incendiary double bonus treat on this red-hot Foreigner 40th Anniversary Tour. Amidst all the fun came a familiar place for Foreigner along the road, Jones Beach Theater nestled on the bay side of Long Island’s famous Ocean Parkway. If the truth be told, there was something magical underfoot the night of Thursday, July 20, 2017 at Jones Beach when the bands came rolling in. The air hummed with oscillating energy in anticipation of the night’s event, but no one truly knew what history would unfold.
As the stage hands finalized the last adjustments onstage, the opening act, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, was illuminated in spotlight glory. Consisting of Tony Catania (guitar and theremin), Stephen Leblanc (keyboards/pedal-steel guitars), Michael Devin (bass), and James Dylan (lead vocals), joining Jason Bonham, the talented drummer brilliantly demonstrated to the mesmerized crowd that he was unequivocally a chip off the old block with his beautifully rendered spot on performance of classic Led Zeppelin.
He stoked the quivering fires of Zeppelin love with “Immigrant Song,” whose lyrics served as the band’s calling card before “Good Times, Bad Times” resonated with the signature bass drum pattern created by John Bonham years previous. Then there was “Over the Hills and Far Away” before other crowd-pleasers such as “The Wanton Song,” which vibrated with raw blatant sexuality. “What Is and What Should Never Be” debuts the use of a Chinese Gong in the Led Zeppelin musical arsenal followed by “Ramble On,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “Black Dog,” before the band closed out with “Whole Lotta Love.”
The crowd lent their karaoke vocals to this Zeppelin-fest as many of these lyrics had been previously memorized by rote and were sung back to Bonham and company in unison amid a light show that was second to none. Needless to say, many hands were up in the air and bodies swaying to the beat. Not surprisingly, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience received thunderous applause at the end, proving that fans had a ‘whole lotta love’ for Led Zeppelin.
Firing away, “Come On Come On” came before new song “You Got It Going On” and older favorites such as “Southern Girls,” “Long Time Coming,” “Taxman,” “Mr. Thief,” as well as “Borderline.” Having the crowd rocking and rolling, “Baby Loves to Rock” would follow before a heavy Petersson bass soul which reverberated offstage in every direction. Then, The Velvet Underground cover “I am Waiting for the Man” kept Petersson in the spotlight as he took lead vocals. Interestingly, the song was a recent new release in honor of Cheap Trick Day, which is officially celebrated on April 1st in their home state of Illinois. Imagine that! This band has a list of accolades that rivals any Santa’s list!
Slowing it down some, the fans adored ballad “The Flame” before Cheap Trick nipped at its heels with two timeless favorites – “I Want You To Want Me” and “Dream Police.” The audience was eating it up as if it were salt water taffy and joined in with the band singing the lyrics. Coming to a close, Cheap Trick wrapped it up in a black and white checkered bow with “Surrender” and ultimately the appropriately entitled “Good Night.” A hearty round of enthusiastic applause naturally followed as Cheap Trick show time and time again they definitely got it going on!
Foreigner, on the other hand, has timeless appeal with fans of all ages and has withstood the turbulent climatic shifts within the music industry. In fact, the band has continued to ignite the flames of ardor within the hearts of their die-hard fans and new recruits the world over. Foreigner has a solid 4-dimensional name recognition and its signature Rock style is as classic as that little black dress. No one could have predicted the meteoric impact that this band would ultimately have, especially when it was a misfit with the other music genres at the time when it started to take root. This was Mick Jones’s baby and he was going to do all he could to ensure that the band survived, and that he did and then some!
This all in mind, as one looked out at the crowd, the composition has not changed much over the last four decades for Foreigner. Then, as Foreigner milled onto the stage, the crowd cheered. Vocalist Kelly Hansen greeted the crowd and his enthusiasm was infectious based on the crowd response. He then plied the crowd with bite-size nuggets about being in the band and Mick Jones shared his early memories of the band and history behind some of the songs interspersed throughout the performance. Joining them, Jeff Pilson (bass, vocals), Tom Gimbel (rhythm guitar, sax, vocals), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Bruce Watson (guitar) and Chris Frazier (drums) filled the stage like dazzling ornaments on a Christmas tree.
Ready to wow the crowd, the first offer was “Double Vision,” a classic many can relate to this particular condition from time to time. Then came “Head Games,” another hit talking of the issues we encounter daily in relationships of all kinds. “Cold as Ice” left icicles hanging over the stage and a bone chill swirling through the audience. Matching all this, throughout the set, Foreigner put on a spectacular light show, but the true excitement came with the massive “Waiting for a Girl Like You.”
At this point, the crowd wondered where the band would go next. Well it would be the boisterous delivery of catchy tune “Dirty White Boy” before yet another hit, “Feels Like the First Time,” alluding to the puppy love that everyone has experienced at one time or another. Proof of such, the crowd sang those lyrics as if they owned it. This was followed by “Urgent,” the dream-like “Starrider,” and anthemic “Jukebox Hero,” completing the set.
Oh no, wait!!!! Something monumental was just about to happen onstage. A matter of fact, it was absolutely incredible and historic. Sending a wave of awe across the crowd, original Vocalist Lou Gramm was introduced. Wow, but there is more, then it was original Guitarist Ian McDonald, and then original Keyboardist Al Greenwood. Caught your breath yet? In all facets of the imagination, what better occasion than a 40th anniversary for a reunion of the remaining original Foreigner band members? As the reunion of the first lineup was underway, the audience had the sense of genuine camaraderie amongst the band members, despite the years they have been apart.
The sands of time swirled around the stage as the original band members got caught up in the moment singing “Long, Long Way From Home,” “I Want to Know What Love Is,” and lastly, “Hot Blooded.” The band’s unfailing enthusiasm swept through the crowd and all were singing. Eyes were riveted on the stage as they soaked in the magical moment before them. At the end of this heartfelt experience, thanks went around and band member acknowledgements were made.
While the show was all but over, the luminosity of the evening was not lost on the night sky that shone like a brilliant diamond in everyone’s eye as they milled out towards the parking lot. Rock history in the making, this tour is to be savored and cherished. An exceptional concert that should be high on Rock fan’s summer bucket list, do not miss it. As for the unexpected encore, it was a perfect example of how dreams come true. No matter how lofty or incredible your dreams may seem at the time, just follow them one step at a time with determination and an unfailing attitude and you will eventually attain it. Needless to say, Foreigner took Jones Beach by storm and a flag with Foreigner’s colors is forever planted firmly in the beach sand.
Photos by: Aintellin Photography