head games

Have you ever attended a show where none of the originals of the band were performing? 

I just couldn’t resist.   One of my all time favorite hard rock bands ever was coming within 10 minutes of where I live so I had to take a run at this one and see this performance.   I had never seen Foreigner live before, and tonight they are at the Abbotsford Centre in Abbotsford Canada with Canadian supporting act Headpins.

So why not?  They have one original member left, however it was a crapshoot if we would actually see 79 year old guitarist Mick Jones perform or make a brief appearance.  In 2018, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and now finds it really difficult to hit the stage to play these songs.  A couple of the originals have past away, like Ian McDonald and Ed Gagliardi, which leaves just a few remaining with the most prominent being original vocalist Lou Gramm.   He is on his own farewell tour as well.   Let’s face it, these guys are senior citizens by this point so any chance to see one of them perform again is a hardrock highlight.

Kelly Hansen

In saying this sad news about Mick’s health, they have resumed their farewell tour across Canada with the band he has put together for the past 20 years.    Most of this version of the band are now Foreigner veterans themselves with Chris Frazier (Drums), Bruce Watson (guitar), Luis Maldonado (guitar), Michael Bluestein (keyboards), Jeff Pilson (Bass) and vocalist Kelly Hanson.  ALL of these guys are extremely accomplished musicians and we definitely saw their professionalism this evening.  With no original members, that didn’t sway anyone from packing the Abbotsford Centre however, the arena was completely sold out at 7000+ capacity.

Bruce Watson

There is NO WAY you leave this show disappointed.   They hit just about every song imaginable that was a major hit in the history of this band.   Starting the night with “Double Vision”, and wow, the sound in this arena has never more pristine and clear with the cutting guitar slicing through you, and dynamic feel of the drums punching your chest.  Next with “Head Games”, Kelly Hansen’s voice sounds exactly like a young Lou Gramm.  There is no wonder that he has made living from being in this band, his stage presence and vocal ability is absolutely rock star.

Jeff Pilson

There was NO disappointment in the setlist AT ALL.    Every song you will know if you listen to any hard rock radio station, for example “Cold as Ice”, “Waiting for a Girl Like You”, “Dirty White Boy”, “Feels like the First Time” and “Urgent” had this average age of 50+ crowd of Generation X and baby boomers on their feet and dancing the entire night.  Jeff Pilson is one of my all time favorite bass players as you may know his linage with Dokken.   He performed in a chair at points in the show as he is recovering from an knee operation, but watching him play keyboard at the front of the stage on “Waiting for a Girl like You” and later in the night on “I Want to Know What Love is” was really cool.

After “Urgent” we get a rare Keytar / Keyboard solo from Bluestein and a killer drum solo from Frazier.  I really was in awe of his abilities behind the kit as his style is absolute violence when he hits those skins.

Chris Frazier

At song 10, they set up “Juke Box Hero” marvelously thereafter, as this is by far my favorite performance of the night that brought chills down my spine.  The entire set is all about the Foreigner 4, Double Vision, Foreigner, Head Games albums that made this band legendary.

The encore came thereafter, with “Long, Long Way from Home” and we saw many of hands held in love during “I Want to Know What Love Is”.  In that song they brought up a local choir to help out in that one, which is really cool of them to do.  They ended the evening with another red hot hit with “Hot Blooded”.

Luis Maldonado

The newest member of this group is Luis Maldonado, who has been with them since 2021.  He was ripping it up on most of the guitar solos and he looked to be having the time of this life, smiling and jumping around.   He is a great addition.

Kelly is so fun to watch on stage, rotating his mic stand around and chatting up the crowd in-between songs. But it’s sad to me at the same time  because this is what rock’n’roll was like in the 70’s and 80’s. I didn’t see many young fans of the band tonight, but if you wanted to see what it was like back then, Kelly certainly brought it with every song.  His 63 year old voice is dynamite, and i think he still has at least a handful of years left in the tank yet from what I saw.  I was blown away.

Michael Bluestein

How can you not enjoy this show? Sure, the big miss here is that there is no original members, but if you closed your eyes, you would of been taken a trip back to the golden age of hard rock.   It was that good.  Kelly stated prior to  that “yes, this is a farewell tour as we are done with touring for 9 months on the road but we are not completely done yet”.   Not sure what that means for these Rock’n’roll Hall of Famers, but I am very curious on that statement.   Can this survive past Mick Jones?  I am not sure on that, but you know, this was a extremely entertaining show and I am so glad I attended.  If you are a fan of this band, I recommend you spend an evening down memory lane with them, you won’t regret it!

1 Comment

  1. What many people may not remember, especially those who were still too young or not yet existent in the 70s, the music arts were still under an onslaught in the middle part of this decade, one which many of us were convinced had spelled the end of good old loud rock and roll. There was a feeling of doom and inevitability in the air. Yes, I’m speaking of D-I-S-C-O. Sure, some great funk was in the mix but we all knew that Disco was the evil guiding force and its mission was KILL ROCK and ROLL. There was gnashing of teeth and wearing of sackcloth and ashes. We even tore our clothes (well, I didn’t – I paid some big bucks for those home made tie dyed flared Levis). So many of us were caught up in this apocalyptic scenario that very few could hear that song of freedom wafting over the Atlantic (as usual – remember the 60s). Whatever it was it sure seemed like the very first time since it had been so long that we’d heard any decent rock and roll. And as it got louder, And Louder AND LOUDER we realized it was the very first time. At least it sure seemed like it. Our faces turned to the East and out came our wallets and our radio station receivers. FOREIGNER, like a super hero, had arrived to save us for the Hustle (and the bustle) in which we’d been trapped for so long. Foreigner! Thankfully FOREIGNER. And I’ll never forget that day. NEVER. That’s one reason I was there in Abbotsford last Friday night. I even brought my son who immediately understood as well. 47 years later they were still on their mission of deliverance from the evil Lord Disco – one I’ll never ever forget. Again, thank you boys.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.