A cold night in western PA, and snow had started to fall as people were getting to the theater, but a little snow doesn't stop people around here. Tonight, Foreigner was in town to warm us all up. The house was packed and buzzing with excitement by the time they hit the stage. Founded in 1976, they are still going strong in their current incarnation, hand-picked by founding member Mick Jones. While they are able to sell out larger venues, they seem to shine brighter in smaller venues like this where they can interact more closely with their fans. With an energy that some younger bands would find hard to maintain, and a chemistry that other bands only dream of having, Foreigner enternained the crowd with a lengthy set of their hits.
Frontman Kelly Hansen personifies rockstar swagger, but also loves to have fun. He displays this not only in his interactions with his bandmates, but with fans as well, where he frequently photobombed the selfies of those near the stage or just took their cameras and ran around snapping his own photos. His silly side came out when he swiped one lady's camera and took a picture of his own backside. The lady acted a bit put off by that, but I'm guessing she really didn't mind that much. He also encourages everyone to get on their feet and dance - it's a rock concert after all!! - and even admonished one fan for being on his phone in the middle of the show. "What are you doing?" Kelly asked. "Looking up the set list," the fan replied. Kelly let him know that if he'd just be patient, the set list would unfold right in front of him. Later, he gave a copy of the set list to the fan - whether to show no hard feelings or to keep him off his phone, who knows? At one point he climbed up on some amps to get closer to the people in the balcony, and he made his usual trip thru the venue to get up close and personal with those in the back.
The rest of the band obviously enjoy what they are doing as can be seen in their smiles, interactions and playfulness. Bruce Watson on guitar was even more into his groove than I've seen him lately, though his wardrobe was a bit more sedate than usual. Jeff Pilson stalked the stage, laying down his distinctive bass lines that get downright dirty on the likes of "Juke Box Hero" and "Dirty White Boy". Both interacted freely with the crowd. Tom Gimbel showed off his many talents on guitar, keys and flute, as well as the iconic sax solo on "Urgent".
Mike Bluestein on keyboards is partially hidden most of the time, but was given a chance to shine during a solo as the rest of the guys took a break. Chris Frazier also stays a bit hidden behind his drum kit, but his solo, the second part of the break by the rest of the band, was blistering. Chris and Mike joined forces just before the rest of the band came back on stage. Mike swiched roles with Jeff Pilson near the end of the show and showed everyone that he is quite the competent bass player (as well as giving everyone a chance to see him up close).
Mick Jones was not in attendance at this show, which is not unusual, as he doesn't play as many live shows anymore. Everyone got to come up front for a bit when they played an acoustic rendition of "Say You Will". As their second-to-last song, in what has become their norm, they brought out a local school choir to sing "I Want to Know What Love Is" with them. They have been active in varioius charities and in promoting music education in schools, and the choirs are one way to showcase that.
Foreigner is embarking on a short tour with the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus prior to their summer Juke Box Hero Tour with Whitesnake and Jason Bonham.