40th Anniversary Tour
Darien Lake PAC
Darien Center, NY
Friday July 21, 2017
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto
Foreigner’s 40th Anniversary Tour brought something special in the air to the Darien Lake PAC Friday evening. The show also brought along veteran rockers Cheap Trick while Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience kicked the evening off in fine style.
This particular night though, belonged solely to Kelly Hansen as he put on a clinic on how to front a band. Sole remaining original member, guitarist Mick Jones said at one point during the show that Hansen will lead this band back to the top. While that remains to be seen, the band put on a solid performance that easily ranks as one of this summer’s best.
“Double Vision” got the ball rolling as it usually does. With nothing but hit after hit, by the time the band delved into the timeless classic “Blue Morning, Blue Day”, Hansen had easily won over any doubters. With his phrasing of the lyrics as well as being all over the stage like a human sparkplug if you will, Hansen put on a performance deserving of an award of some type.
The band behind Hansen and Jones was very solid. Featuring former Dokken member Jeff Pilson on bass, multi-instrumentalist Thom Gimbel, keyboardist Michael Bluestein, drummer Chris Frazier and guitarist Bruce Watson, these guys really know the material inside and out. Gimbel in particular played the sax solo in “Urgent” to perfection. These guys have been together a while now and you can tell how tight they have become.
Foreigner diehards were treated to the classic “Starrider”, a song sung by Jones that appeared on the band’s debut back in 1977.
While the band may have retired the inflatable Juke Box they once used in the 80s, they found another way to add to “Juke Box Hero” which closed out the main set. Hansen was put on a riser that was positioned closer to the rear of the covered seating section. With Hansen hovering high over the crowd he was not fazed in the least and brought the song home.
Back for an encore of #1 smash “I Want to Know What Love Is” featured the local Williamsville East High School. The high energetic “Hot Blooded” ended the band’s night as the fans screamed along.
While the remote possibility of former Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm joining Foreigner for a few songs didn’t pan out, no one left the Darien Lake PAC unhappy. Gramm who currently resides in nearby Rochester, showed up at Wantagh, NY the night before along with original members Ian McDonald and Al Greenwood to join the band on stage for the encore. It was a reunion of epic proportions.
While no one is clear as to what Foreigner’s next move may be, perhaps it would be a good idea to record a new record with Hansen. Can’t Slow Down, the band’s most recent full-length release is from 2009 and in these times, is much too long without making new music.
Cheap Trick was a bit of a disappointment. Sure, they tore it up on the “big three” of “I Want You To Want Me”, “Dream Police” and “Surrender” but seemed to at times lose the audience early on as they played quite a few rare songs mixed in with two new songs from their new album We’re All Alright. A stellar version of “Never Had a Lot to Lose” from Lap Of Luxury served as one of very few highlights. Ending with a lengthy version of “Gonna Raise Hell” incorporated with a solo by drummer Daxx Nielsen left the crowd a little restless following the mega hits. Cheap Trick did not give the crowd much to stand for during their 65-minute set. Missing strong songs earlier in the set such as “California Man” and “On Top Of The World” was where this reviewer felt the band dropped the ball. On a night when Foreigner was celebrating their hits, Cheap Trick was catering to their diehards leaving everyone else a little disenchanted.
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Blue Morning, Blue Day
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like The First Time
Juke Box Hero
I Want To Know What Love Is
Long Time Coming
Daddy Should Have Stayed In High School
You Got It Going On
I’m Waitin’ For The Man
I Know What I Want
I Want You To Want Me
Never Had A Lot To Lose
Gonna Raise Hell
Jason Bonham’s Led Zep Experience
Good Times Bad Times
Over The Hills And Far Away
The Wanton Song
What Is and What Should Never Be
When The Levee Breaks
Whole Lotta Love
Rock and Roll