Wow! This show was just freakin’ amazing! OK, in all honesty, Foreigner and Whitesnake are two of my favorite bands, so maybe I’m a bit biased. There’s no denying, though, that this bill has magic. A t first glance, the bands might seem a little too different to pull off a cohesive show, but somehow it works, and the thousands of fans packing their shows would surely agree.
Let’s start with Jason Bonham and his Led Zeppelin Experience. He was with Foreigner last year when they did a big tour. I missed part of his set at that show and from what I did see, I remember thinking I didn’t get what all the hype was about. This year, I was in my seat before he started, so I could get the full effect. Maybe he was just having a bad day last year - or maybe I was - because this time, I was duly impressed. I never had the privilege to see Led Zeppelin live, but Jason and his line-up have managed to capture at least some of the feel (or so it seems), and certainly much of the sound of his father’s band. This is a band I would like to see on their own, because I think without the time constraints, they could really weave a spell. They certainly started to do just that, especially when they broke into Stairway To Heaven, which they dedicated to the recently departed Vinnie Paul. Their set list included: Immigrant Song, Good Times Bad Times, The Ocean, Over the Hills and Far Away, Thank You, Whole Lotta Love, Rock N Roll, Stairway to Heaven.
Whitesnake batted second. I grew up with this band’s music in the 80’s, but of course frontman David Coverdale’s career started long before that. Mr. Coverdale has always had one of the best voices in rock, and he still sounds good after all these years - maybe a little rougher around the edges, but that just gives more character. He has quite the stage presence - a total rock star, yet a proper English gentleman all rolled into one - even raising a glass of wine at one point in the show. He is in constant motion, though, and is not an easy man to photograph - with the equipment I had on hand anyway. The band is just as fantastic. Drummer Tommy Aldridge does a solo at one point in the show. It starts out fairly typical, but he ends up tossing his sticks and finishing the solo with his hands - playing the drums like bongos! How often do you see that? Guitarist Reb Beach - Pittsburgh native (yeah Pittsburgh!) and also member of Winger - is a talented guitarist and certainly has the look, but tends to stay in the shadows a bit. We love you Reb, and want to see you! He did venture over to our side of the stage once, so I could get a few photos for his Pittsburgh fans. Joel Hoekstra, on the other hand, with his flowing, blonde hair, should have his picture in the dictionary next to “rock star”. Wherever he stops on the stage, he strikes a pose! He has the chops to go with all the swagger and good looks, though. Reb and Joel have a dueling guitar solo moment in the middle of the show that is a thing of beauty, though shorter than I recall from their headlining shows. In fact, that is my only complaint about their set - this is band that deserves to be headlining. They have too many hits and too much talent to play an abbreviated set in the middle of a show. Let's hope that Mr. Coverdale decides he wants to keep doing this for a while, because I'm sure I'm not the only fan that isn't ready for him to hang it up. Their set list: Bad Boys, Give Me All of Your Love, Love Ain’t No Stranger, Slow and Easy, Dueling Guitar Solos, Cryin’ In The Rain, Is It Love, Slide It In, Here I Go Again, Still of The Night.
Last, but certainly not least - Foreigner! I’ve seen these guys so many times that I about know their set by heart, but it's still never boring. They adapt to whatever venue they play - getting more up-close-and-personal with their fans at small venues and and becoming arena-rockers at larger ones. Formed in the 1970’s, Mick Jones is the only original member still with the band, but the rest of the guys have been together so long now, they may as well be the “new” original members. They not only are a well-oiled machine on stage, but they obviously love what they do. When the band is having fun, everyone is having fun! Frontman Kelly Hansen is a consummate professional with an impressive stage presence, but also likes to joke with the crowd and admonish them for looking at their cell phones instead of “Living in the moment.” His usual stroll thru the venue ended at the top of a small platform extended high above the crowd near the soundboard. A little bit of a thrill seeker, maybe? He also made sure to acknowledge the couple that got engaged during “Waiting For A Girl Like You.” Congratulations to them, wherever they are. Mick Jones has missed shows lately, and sometimes only plays part of the set, but he was on stage the entire time this night. He seemed quite energized, and that was good to see. The rest of the band was having a great time, as usual. Guitarist Bruce Watson always seems to be smiling! Tom Gimbel stayed on his side of the stage, except for his sax solo, and it was a big stage, so I didn’t see much of him. Bassist, Jeff Pilson, on the other hand, stalks the stage throughout, giving everyone in the first few rows their own personal show. They once again included a local choir during “I Want To Know What Love Is” as a way of showcasing the need to keep music in schools. One fun thing in this show was the addition of pyrotechnics. The heat coming off the flames during Hot Blooded was, well, appropriate for the song. Feeling that from out in the audience, I have to wonder how Michael Bluestein and Chris Frazier felt being right next to those flame-throwers! Their set list included: Long Long Way From Home, Double Vision, Head Games, Cold As Ice, Waiting For A Girl Like You, Dirty White Boy, Feels Like the First Time, Urgent, Starrider, Jukebox Hero, I Want To Know What Love Is, Hot Blooded.
Due to the rather strict rules certain venues place on professional photographers, making it all but impossible to also view the show, I chose to watch the show and make do with a few cell phone photos this time.