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House Of Blues, Chicago, USA 17 July 2005

Survivor’s song title ‘It’s the singer not the song’ has been put to the test by many of the AOR greats. A Perry-less Journey, a De Young-less Styx, and now Mick Jones puts together a new Foreigner line-up without the unique tones of the now sadly ailing Lou Gramm.

At this excellent venue (redolent of the Shepherds Bush Empire) the task of filling his shoes was undertaken admirably by much-travelled Kelly Hansen.

Looking a little like Mick Jagger and with confident stagecraft, any reservations were soon blown away as he handled the openers Long, Long Way from Home and Double Vision with ease. But most impressive were his soulful tones which stayed true to the spirit of the classic ballads Waiting For A Girl Like You and I Want To Know What Love Is, where he exhorted the crowd to take the place of the choir they couldn’t afford to bring. Only on Juke Box Hero did he struggle to maintain the range of prime time Lou. However his introductions to each song were cheesier than a French Farmer’s Market!

Mick Jones remains the master of the simple but memorable guitar riff and one of the highlights of the night was him singing and producing a great solo during Starrider, also featuring some flute playing. All the hits were there- Dirty White Boy, Cold As Ice, Feels Like The First Time, Blue Morning Blue Day and Urgent - but sadly not the more obscure songs Mick had promised.

Jeff Pilson’s aggressive bass playing and punkish stage presence and Jason Bonham’s powerful drumming gave the music a heavier dimension. However I found Mick too keen to trade on his Zeppelin connection, with a snatch of Whole Lotta Love during ‘..Hero’ and a cover of Misty Mountain Hop.

Mick Jones may be 60 now and thin on top, but there is still plenty of life in the new Foreigner and I hope a more adventurous approach to come.


Review: Andy Nathan

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