(DTE Energy Theatre, Clarkston, MI – June 8th, 2007)
Led by British journeyman rocker Mick Jones, rock band Foreigner formed in New York City in 1976, and vocally helmed by then unknown vocalist Lou Gramm managed to bring forth a debut self-titled album that sold more than four million copies in the US and stayed in the Top 20 for a year.
In 2003, and after many band member back-and-forths, Lou Gramm once again left Foreigner leaving Jones - now the only remaining original member of the band - to reincarnate Foreigner one last time.
Tonight's line-up has now been together for the past two years. Touring and recording along the way, they have gelled well and showed tonight that if this was to be the last incarnation of Foreigner that they had truly struck gold. With a young Steven Tyler lookalike in the form of Kelly Hansen now in to replace Gramm as lead vocalist, ex-Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson, early '90s Foreigner stalwarts Jeff Jacobs (piano, organ, keys) and Thom Gimbel (sax, guitar, flute), not to mention the Son of Bonzo (his words after the show!) on drums, Mick Jones' Foreigner circa 2007 came to show the public - and us jaded journos within the business! - just what they were made of.
Kickstarting the night with a rousing 'Double Vision,' one look around the open air pavilion showed that some faces were quite clearly confused by Hansen's presence. The absence of Lou Gramm obviously not having filtered through to them these past few years, it only took but a couple of choruses through the first song to both understand the situation and wholeheartedly accept Hansen.
With a more subdued Mick Jones on guitar - stage presence wise - Hansen prowls the large outdoor stage alone. 'Head Games,' 'Cold As Ice,' ["Hello, Detroit," exclaims Hansen. "This has to be the world's greatest rock 'n roll city. We're so happy to be here tonight"], 'Blue Morning' [lit by a pale blue light] and 'Waiting For A Girl Like You' are all sung with vocal passion that incredibly, majestically exudes a late '70s, early '80s Gramm.
A very powerhaus version of 'Dirty White Boy' is next up, which after his guitar solo has been performed seems to leave Jones somewhat out of breath. A newly-reconstructed 'Say You Will' is next that brings Bonham, Pilson and Gimbel to front stage as harmony providers to the now more laid back, unplugged if-you-will track.
Introduced by Jones ["It's great to be back here. We're gonna go back to our first album now."], a classic rendition of 'Starrider' is next. And although Jones' vocals have never been all that strong, his guitar work is - as usual - formidable. 'Feels Like The First Time' fires us straight back to 1977, before a guitar first, then keyboard, then drum intro to 'Urgent' [complete with a sax break that instantly brought goosebumps to the arms!] nearly brought the house down! In it's extended form it was simply incredible to listen to live after all these years.
But, if that was something to behold then what came next was just the musical cherry on the cake! With a keyboard opening that slipped carefully into a strong drum solo, which all finally culminated into a Jones solo, suddenly the pulsating opening beats of 'Juke Box Hero' were brought to the baying masses. But it didn't end there as halfway through - and courtesy of some monster drumming from the Son of Bonzo - the Led Zeppelin track 'Whole Lotta Love' slipped its way in for a few brief verses! With every word sung by an adoring crowd the track sublimely made its way back to 'Juke Box Hero' before bringing the set to a close on one hell of a high note!
Coming back out the band bring us 'Long, Long Way From Home,' before Hansen goes into Preacher mode for a bluesy-gospel version of 'I've Got Whiskey.' This quick musical interlude is quickly followed by a Preacher-inspired 'raise up your voices and sing' moment where Hansen asks for the crowd's vocal participation on 'I Want To Know What Love Is.' With Hansen's voice now slightly suffering from the nights work, his endless stage prowling probably winding him more than he expected, the show-ending 'Hot Blooded' [complete with Jones intro under a bright red spot] is sung to the still-excited gathering. "Thanx for coming out tonight," Hansen proclaims, as the red / yellow / orange-lit band bring the final bars of the song to an end ... along with the powerhaus of a nights performance.
Review by Russell A. Trunk