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Monday
Jul022012

Foreigner - Artpark, Lewiston, NY - June 26, 2012

Review/photos - John Jeffrey
 
Lewiston, NY - This past Tuesday was Artpark's 2nd installment of their annual "Tuesday in the Park" concert series, and while the opening week started out strong with Kansas, many people felt that week #1 was really just a warm up for week #2, with Foreigner coming into town.
 
The big buzz surrounding this tour is that the band is currently performing without any of it's original members.  Although we posted this information in our Artpark concert preview, with all of the group's advertising showing pictures of the band with founding member/guitarist Mick Jones, one would be led to believe that Mick would be present.  With that obviously not being the case, Foreigner has joined the ranks of the handful of classic artists who still perform today without any of their original band members.  Even though Jones contends that he will rejoin the group at some point, with his age and ongoing health issues, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before this becomes the band's inevitable future.  However, Foreigner should be viewed as a prototype of how a band CAN continue without their original lineup, as what separates them from other artists who are doing the same are two important "S" words - success and sincerity.
 
Seeing this lineup of Foreigner (featuring Bruce Watson filling in for Mick Jones and Ollie Marland subbing for keyboardist Michael Bluestein) perform in front of sold out crowds, such as the 10,000 or so who gathered at Artpark, is proof that the demand for the music of Foreigner is still very strong, and that the group is doing all the right things to keep the fans coming.  Core replacement members Thom Gimbel - saxophone/rhythm guitar (who currently has the longest tenure in the band, being a member since 1995), Kelly Hansen - vocals and Jeff Pilson - bass guitar (which they revealed onstage that they refer to him as the "Glue" that keeps it all together) have created a chemistry in which keeps the feel and the spirit of Foreigner completely intact.
 
Foreigner treated the Artpark crowd to just over an hour and a half of their hits, all performed flawlessly, with the exception of "Long, Long Way from Home" where the group flubbed the arrangement and Gimbel got lost with his saxophone solo.  Frontman Hansen commanded the crowd from the moment he hit the stage, from instructing everyone when to clap, to when to sing along, to leaving the crowd in awe when he scaled the stage left scaffolding, the guy is a top notch performer who can sing the Foreigner catalog to near perfection.  The whole night was hit after rocking hit, but before the big ending number ("Hot Blooded"), Foreigner brought the mood down a bit with a beautiful rendition of "I Want to Know What Love Is," complete with a full choir, courtesy of Medina High School.
 
Judging from the deafening crowd reaction, everyone was a happy camper on this night.  However, after talking with a few people after the show, there seemed to be a differing of opinion on the night's events.  A couple of fans noted that while they thought the show was 'good,' if they would have known that Mick Jones wasn't going to be performing, that they wouldn't have attended.  On the other hand, a fan who knew the situation prior to going (who wasn't expecting to be impressed by the concert), said that it was the best time he had ever seen Foreigner live.  Like any artist, you can never please 100% of your fan base, and judging by Tuesday night's performance, don't expect Foreigner to stop anytime soon.
 
Setlist
Double Vision
Head Games
Cold as Ice
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Blue Morning
Dirty White Boy
Say You Will
Feels Like the First Time
Urgent
Jukebox Hero
Long, Long Way from Home
I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded
 
Special Thanks to Maria Costello and John Lappen for all of their help covering this show.