Niagara Falls, Ontario
Saturday November 12, 2016
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto
The Avalon Ballroom Theatre came alive with the music of Foreigner Saturday evening but not in the manner which one may be accustomed to. Sure the band Foreigner was there but this was a special show that was billed as “The Hits Unplugged” Tour. Stripped down versions of Foreigner hits and a few surprises were tossed in to make the show a must see for any fan of the band.
The band was playing the back-end of a two night stand which were both sold-out. What made the shows more special was they featured sole remaining original member and founder Mick Jones. In recent years Jones has cut down on his touring schedule due to health concerns.
The band were seated at stools and played without the benefit of a drummer. Joining singer Kelly Hansen and Jones were keyboardist Michael Bluestein, guitarist Bruce Watson, bassist Jeff Pilson and multi-instrumentalist Thom Gimbel.
Jones told some stories behind a few of the songs. As he introduced “Long, Long Way From Home” he told of how crazy the streets of New York City were back when the band were starting out. Hansen then told the audience that it was bassist Pilson who initially arranged “Say You Will” and how it was the springboard for the band to venture into doing acoustic shows.
The standout band member for me on this particular evening was singer Hansen. When he joined in 2005, many did not know how to take him. Here he is eleven years later and he has grown into the frontman position quite nicely. While he commands the stage well during a normal Foreigner show, it was his voice that stood out and stole the show on this particular evening. All one had to do was witness the performance of “When It Comes To Love” a song culled from the band’s 2009 Can’t Slow Down album. That album to date is the lone studio album to feature Hansen.
Rare plays of “Fool For You Anyway” and “The Flame Still Burns” delighted the diehards. For Hansen he explained how he really enjoys singing “Girl On The Moon” which was another highlight.
The band encored with a rollicking bare bones version of “Hot Blooded”. As they broke into “I Want To Know What Love Is”, Hansen stated “You didn’t think we’d leave without playing this one did you”? The song ended the evening and featured the Momentum Choir, a local group based in the Niagara region.
Foreigner has had an amazing career from their humble beginnings and throughout the 80s. There were some bumps along the way in the 90s and early 2000s but since Hansen joined the band, they have toured with regularity averaging almost 100 shows a year. While the band may not have the following they once did when they were headlining stadiums all those years ago, they have rebuilt their reputation as a fantastic live band that delivers the goods on a nightly basis.
Long, Long Way From Home
Say You Will
Waiting for a Girl Like You
When It Comes to Love
Fool for You Anyway
Dirty White Boy
That’s All Right
The Flame Still Burns
Cold as Ice
Girl on the Moon
Feels Like the First Time
Juke Box Hero
I Want to Know What Love Is