Sunday, September 22, 2013

Foreigner: Tribute Band or Real Deal?

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Here is the Wikipedia definition of Foreigner:

Foreigner are one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time with worldwide sales of nearly 80 million albums, including 37.5 million albums in the United States alone.

Here is MY definition of Foreigner:

Foreigner is the first great American Big Rock Radio Hits bands of its kind.  Call it Classic Rock, AOR, Melodic Rock, or my parents rock music.  Whatever you call it, you can't call it BAD!!!!  From their 1st self titled album in 1977 and through out the 80's, Foreigner was one of the best selling bands in America, with more Top Ten hits than any other American band during their time.  Formed by the veteran English musician Mick Jones, and the New York native Lou Gramm, they became one of the greatest songwriting teams in music history. Cranking out hit after hit after hit from their 77' debut all the way up to their 87' album Inside Information, they became a staple on American Top Ten radio and on the AOR charts. If you grew up in the 80's and claim you don't know any Foreigner songs, you must have been living in a cave, or in the middle of a West Texas desert town called Alpine, TX, like I was, even there, with only a country radio station, with the help of great older friends and then a little channel called MTV, I discovered Foreigner in 81' with the release of their 4th album simply titled 4.  The first song I heard was "Jukebox Hero" which seemed to be telling my life story as I was just starting to feel the itch to play guitar and sing in a band for the first time.  After hearing Foreigner 4, I quickly got all of their back catalog and started listening to them in depth and my head was just exploding with all these great songs and melodies that I was hearing for the first time.  Needless to say, this 13 year old kid was hooked on them, and have never looked back.  I have seen them 6 times in my life and they will always be remembered as some of the best shows of my life. Not for any huge production, like KISS concerts, which nobody can match, but for the songs and musicianship, which even KISS at times did not hold up to.

Jump in time to the year 2005.  I read online that Foreigner is back.  With original member Mick Jones, and new band consisting of Jeff Pilson (Dokken), Jason Bonham (really?), and none other than Kelly Hansen of Hurricane fame.  What? Don't remember Hurricane?  The 80's band that consisted of a set of famous brother musicians from alittle band called Quiet Riot?  Still NO?  Oh well, look them up on Youtube.  They were awesome.  I have followed Kelly's career since day 1 all the way thru his time with Unruly Child, and Perfect World.  So I knew he had the pipes to sing the high notes that Lou Gramm did in the 80's, but he was 20 years older now and I was slightly worried that he wouldn't hold up to my expectations.  After reading rave reviews of concerts, I was slowly being convinced.  With the 2009 release of Foreigner's Can't Slow Down album, I knew after one listen, that they were back as solid as ever.  The album rocks just as hard as any of their classic albums. To me, Foreigner was back on top.  I finally got the opportunity to see them when they came through Nashville opening for Journey in 2011.  Also on the bill was Night Ranger, so I knew this was going to be a full show packed with hits.  Me and my girlfriend at the time, now my beautiful wife, Wendy, had to be there for this awesome show.  Night Ranger opened the show and was amazing as always.  Jack Blades can't hit all the notes like he used to, but it was just great to hear those classic songs again.  Next up, Foreigner.  They hit the stage with Double Vision, one of their hardest, most air guitaring songs in their catalog.  I was totally shocked and stunned.  Not at how great they sounded, but because the guitar player I saw with them was NOT Mick Jones.  I was devastated, as he is one of  my guitar heroes.  I felt cheated and ripped off.  How can they be Foreigner without Mick Jones?  Halfway through the show, Kelly finally told the crowd that Mick was "under the weather" as he said.  I was still alittle disappointed, but I had to admit, they sounded awesome.  Even better then Journey did, and everyone knows I LOVE Journey.  Sorry Neal.  Anyways, if I had just seen a Foreigner Tribute band, they were better than the real deal.  Which doesn't happen that often. 

Jump now to 2013.  Foreigner is scheduled to play in Nashville, and the Nashville Symphony Hall.  Finally, I get to see them headline a full show.  I had never been to the venue before so didn't know how big or small it was.  Upon our arrival at the venue, before the doors were open, I came across a friend of mine who told me he was doing the meet and greet before the show.  He informed me that he had heard talk that again, Mick Jones may not be at this show.  He had a heart attack back in 2011 forcing him to take some time off from  the road and was still not back 100%. My friend told me that he had been looking at pictures from the other meet and greets at their previous shows and Mick was NOT in any of the photos. So again, set up for dissapoinment, I just relished the fact that I was still going to hear some of my favorite songs that night. So, doors open, my wife and I go find our seats, and amazingly, we are only 6 rows from the stage.  We had a perfect view of the stage which was small.  This venue was perfect if you are like me and want to get close to a band.  I was so excited.  Now comes the opening band.  I had heard talk that it was an 18 year old kid from Bloomington, IN named Matthew Curry and The Fury.  I thought, "Oh Shit", this is going to suck.  Surprise surprise, from the first note Matthew played and sang, I was totally amazed at how great this kid was.  He was a cross between Eddie Van Halen and Jonny Lang, if you can imagine that. He did all originals, he has 2 albums out, and he actually had good songs.  Still, I was there to see Foreigner.  Matthew only played for 30 minutes so we didn't have to wait much longer for Foreigner to come on stage.

The lights go down, the intro music starts up, and I hear the first guitar chords of Double Vision, and here comes Foreigner.  But, again, NO Mick Jones. The same guitar player from the Journey show was with them.  But I have to say, he was playing everything note for note perfect and sounded great.  So here I was again, seeing a Foreigner tribute band.  I just decided to go with it and rock out and have a great time.  Seeing my wife dancing and wiggling next to me gave me a joy that I haven't felt in a very long time.  I have to say, that as much as I do enjoy going to shows by myself most of the time, because I am a maniac and want to be right up front and in on the action, it was awesome to share that experience with her.  She got to see my face light up like a little kid at christmas time.  And yes, during I've Been Waiting For A Girl Like You, I held her tight and I did get alittle teary eyed.  Anyways, halfway through the show, Kelly starts introducing the band members.  I knew them all so I was just waiting for him to finish and start the next song.  Then low and behold, I heard these words. "And now, I have to bring out the man who started it all. The man who wrote these songs."  I was getting chills cause I knew who he was talking about.  "A man without whom none of us would be here.  The great Mick Jones."  Mick came onstage and I was so excited I almost shit myself.  I was clammering to get my camera out of my pocket to get some pictures of this rock legend before he disappeared.  Needless to say, he didnt disappear. He played for the last half of the show and it was one of the most amazing shows i've seen in awhile.  So, I warn my wife, I say "baby, at the end of the last song I'm going to run down to the stage to get a guitar pick." She was like "okay, good luck."  So off I go, right down the aisle to the stage, I'm yelling at Jeff Pilson trying to get him to give me a pick and he is totally ignoring me and throwing them into the crowd.  But right in front of me, I see the setlist.  So guess what I did. Yeppers! I ripped the setlist off the stage, maybe pushing a couple of people out of my way in the process. Sorry folks.  Then I'm back to Jeff trying to get a pick from him.  Still, he is paying no attention to me whatsoever.  But, low and behold, he drops a pick on the stage. So as I turn to reach for it, I realize that someone is standing onstage right in front of me.  I look up, and OH MY GOD, it's Mick Jones himself.  I was in total disbelief as I figured he had left the stage already.  He looks at me and lowers his hand and takes my hand and shakes it.  I was totally shaking. Then, he hands me his last guitar pick. It was like a jackpot to me.  I never thought I would get a pick from Mick Jones.  I was willing to settle for a pick from Jeff Pilson, whom I love too by the way. Dokken, being another of my fave bands. So, I'm about to concede and give up on Jeff and I notice that the pick he dropped is still on the stage.  So I just do a little hop and a jump and I'm up on the stage far enough to scoop it up.  So, I hit the jackpot.  2 guitar picks, a setlist, and an awesome show with my wonderful wife who had to put up with me gushing like a little kid getting his first bike.  If anyone is wondering, I collect guitar picks from shows, I have a whole bunch of them and it is always important to me to try to get at least one from every show I go to.  If anyone wants to see my collection, I can post pictures of them later.  So again, it ended up being one of the greatest nights that me and my wife have had together. 

This is my first post since joining the Decibel Geek team so I am totally new to this.  I'm not the best at putting my thoughts into writing so forgive me if all of my punctuation isn't correct.  Anyways, hope you enjoyed and maybe learned something from this. If not, sorry dude!!!!!

Later my Geeks!!!!!!!

1 comment:

Kate Campbell said...

Amazing review Billy!! I love a good "fan perspective" review and you, my friend, are the ultimate fan!! I'm looking forward to reading more of your articles. Rock on!!

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