Foreigner New Year’s Show Perfect In Every Way

Kelly Hansen - ForeignerWritten by April Savoie
Photos by Dan Savoie

Foreigner doesn’t perform many shows in Canada, so when the band decided to come to the Vancouver area for a two-day stint, I knew I had to check it out. Add on the idea that the second show was at Coquitlam’s Red Robinson Theatre on New Year’s Eve and the band now had some pretty high expectations to live up to. It was like the lyrics to Starrider: I stole a ride on a passing star, not knowing where I was going.

I’ve never seen Foreigner live, except for the amazing concert DVD included in their Can’t Slow Down album package, but I wasn’t expecting something as good as that because we all know live recordings are always fixed in studios. Also, could someone really sing better than Lou Gramm did on those classics? But after what I saw on New Year’s Eve, I’d have to say the recording for the live DVD, which I hold so high in praise, was right on the money. This was the arena show in a casino!

It was pretty obvious this band has been on the road for a while because they were solid on every account.  Mick Jones has lined himself up with the best musicians in the history of the band and the old classics were given a new punch that made them sound fresh and exciting. It’s safe to say Foreigner is a band that is not resting on its laurels and wants to be modern and relevant, but not overdoing it.

Heavily relying on music from the first four albums, the show had all the hits and important tracks, minus Say You Will and Blue Morning, Blue Day. Surprisingly, the non-hit Starrider was a highlight, with a strong vocal from Jones and its strange, but interesting Sci-Fi feel.

Another highlight was Thom Gimbel, who took center stage for Urgent’s killer sax solo. Gimbel let it rip and had the crowd in a frenzy. And he was lovin’ every minute of it. Other than Jones, the only original member, Gimbel is the longest standing member of the band having joined in the early 90s.

The real star of the show though was vocalist Kelly Hansen, who has brought something special to Foreigner. He replaced original voice Lou Gramm back in 2005, but never had a chance to record until 2009’s Can’t Slow Down. This man has a wicked set of pipes and there wasn’t a single point in the show that didn’t sound like it was meant for him to sing. With a little bit of Steven Tyler and a whole lotta’ love, Hansen is “the voice of Foreigner”.

This was one of the top shows in 2010, flawless and perfect in ever way. I feel sorry for Journey, who will have Foreigner open up for them across Europe in 2011. It’s a tough act to beat!

Watch for Foreigner on the cover of the February/March issue of RockStars.

Mick Jones - Foreigner
Set List:
Double Vision
Head Games
Cold as Ice
Can’t Slow Down
Waiting for a Girl Like You
When It Comes to Love
Dirty White Boy
Long Long Way From Home
Feels Like the First Time
I Want to Know What Love Is
Hot Blooded
Encore: Juke Box Hero