Review: Having fun with Foreigner

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

Although the song itself is about a rough and tumble bruiser, there is a line in the Foreigner song, “Head Knocker,” that clearly sums up vintage rockers’ show at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday, Oct. 3.

“Boy does he love to play,” the song goes.

And it’s clear that Foreigner certainly loves to play.

This was a special evening for the rockers, who emerged in 1977 from the ashes of several other venerable bands to release its eponymous debut.

Not only were the current members of the band that gave us “Urgent,” “Juke Box Hero,” “Double Vision,” “Cold As Ice,” “I Want to Know What Love Is,” and so on and so on take the stage, but several former members also joined in as well.

Original members, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and keyboardist Al Greenwood, as well as long-time bassist Rick Wills joined their old bandmate Mick Jones and the current members to bang out some of the group’s extensive catalog. Among the tidbits the early members played were the aforementioned “I Want to Know What Love Is.” They also played deep tracks such as “Long, Long Way from Home” and Blue Morning, Blue Day.”

(For the record, Foreigner is now Jones, Kelly Hansen, Jeff Pilson, Tom Gimbel, Mike Bluestein, Bruce Watson, and Chris Frazier.)

Unfortunately, longtime lead singer and Jones’ writing partner Lou Gramm was unable to attend the show as originally anticipated. He was struck ill the day before the Connecticut show.

The key for the evening was that everyone on stage looked as if they were having fun playing so many of the classic tracks that dotted the charts through the 1970s and1980s. The audience couldn’t help but be infected by the energy exuded by the band.

Seeing the older members take the stage was the biggest treat for longtime fans. And my ears told me the veterans seemed to be fitting right in with current members even if some years have intervened since they last regularly performed with Jones and Co.

Current lead singer Hansen was a true showman throughout the evening. He knows what is expected of him as the lead singer. He swung the microphone stand. He mugged for the audience. He monkeyed around with the other band members. And his voice fit nicely for songs like “Urgent” and “Hot Blooded,” and “Juke Box Hero.”

Jones also is a wonder, still offering up some stinging guitar licks and commanding the stage.

I also found it cool to hear the group, new members and older members, dust off some of Foreigner’s deep tracks such as “Long Long Way from Home” and “Head Knocker.” Those tracks were useful reminders that the group had talent beyond just hitting the top 10.

Foreigner’s Oct. 3 show was a great opportunity for fans to stir up some old memories and create new ones watching a band who clearly loves to play four decades into their career.

I give Foreigner 4 out of 5 stars.

PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN