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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
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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