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FOREIGNER - The 40th Anniversary Tour
Written By: Gary Crouthamel
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FOREIGNER - The 40th Anniversary Tour
FOREIGNER - The 40th Anniversary Tour
FOREIGNER - The 40th Anniversary Tour
FOREIGNER - The 40th Anniversary Tour
FOREIGNER - The 40th Anniversary Tour
FOREIGNER - The 40th Anniversary Tour
w/Cheap Trick - Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience
        Back to the BB&T Pavilion as Foreigner comes into town on the second stop of their 40th Anniversary Tour along with special guests Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience.
        Jason Bonham opened the show playing an eight-song set of Led Zeppelin covers such as “Immigrant Song,” “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Ramble On” and more as a heartfelt tribute from Jason to his father, Led Zeppelin's original drummer John Bonham.
        After a short break, Cheap Trick took to the stage with a huge checkerboard backdrop which has been a staple of the band since day one. They opened with “Hello There,” “Big Eyes” and “Lookout” before stopping to address the crowd ... guitarist Rick Nielsen saying it’s good to be back in Camden, or is this Philly, to a mostly louder applause for Philly. “Do you mind if we play a new song from our new album just released in June, We're All Alright?” And the band went into “Long Time Comin'.” “It’s good to be back on tour with our old friends Foreigner and new friends Jason Bonham's band,” Nielsen said. After a short bass solo from bassist Tom Petersen on his always 12-string bass, they launch into “Ain't That a Shame” with Tom on vocals and lead guitarist Robin Zander on an acoustic guitar. After a quick band intro, Rick asks the crowd, “you mind if we play another new one?” After which they played “You Got It Going On” that received a well deserved applause. Next they played a cover of the Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” before slowing things down for the slow but always crowd pleasing “The Flame.” At this point everyone in the pavilion and on the lawn are on their feet singing word for word with cell phones illuminating the scene and Robin yells to the crowd,  “I Want You To Want Me” and the band played to the near sell out crowd. Now Rick asks, “do you mind if we play a couple more?” They then played “Dream Police” and “Never Had a Lot to Lose.” Now asking can you help us out with this one, the band played their radio-friendly hit “Surrender” to end their set.
       After a short break, Rick walks out on stage with his five-neck custom guitar for the song “Goodnight,” which is a companion song to their opener “Hello There” and is always used by the band to end their main set. After a few bows and many guitar picks thrown into the crowd, the band exits the stage.
       Now the time for the headliner Foreigner, with the front of the stage completely covered by a huge black curtain and a voice over the pa system: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Foreigner,” and the curtain drops and the band is playing on a massive stage with the most brightly lighted stage I have seen in a while and a backdrop behind the band that was a cover of the band’s fourth album Foreigner 4; but only now with the number 40 instead of 4 to celebrate the tour.  The band opened with “Double Vision” and “Head Games” with lead singer Kelly Hansen running up and down the pavilion isles high fiving as many as he could. Making his way back to the stage, the band played “Cold as Ice” and “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” Kelly now asks to turn up the house lights so we can see everybody and says, “this is Foreigner's 40th anniversary tour, that might be older than some of you but not all of you. Some nights we don't know what songs to play and leave out so for the next song we are going to leave it up to you. We will mention two songs and the best applause for that one we will play it.” First, “Head Knocker,” second, “Blue Morning - Blue Day.” “With the applause you picked it: “Blue Morning - Blue Day.” Happy 40th to us!” he exclaimed. At this point in the night, I don't think a person had sat down in their seat and it’s just packed to capacity. Now Kelly says, “there are a lot of lovely ladies here tonight in New Jersey, or is it Philly (to which Philly gets the bigger nod), because we are a bunch of “Dirty White Boys,”  as the band launches into that song. “Now we're going to play the very first hit from 40 years ago,” Kelly continued as he led the band into “Feels Like the First Time.” Now, the only original band member, Mick Jones, starts a guitar solo that leads into “Urgent” with guitarist Thom Gimbel on saxophone that he just crushes during the song. Kelly then introduced the band: Bruce Watson on guitar, Michael Bluestein on keyboards, Chris Frazier on drums, Jeff Pilson on bass, Thom Gimbel on guitar, sax and flute, and the one and only Mick Jones. Mick takes a minute to address Kelly for his long tenure in the band and what a great job he has done keeping Foreigner moving forward. Now on acoustic guitar, Mick starts the opening lines for one of my all time favorites, “Starrider,” and with Thom on the flute, this just gets the crowd going even more. As the  song morphs into warp speed, Mick switches to electric guitar to finish out the song. After that song Kelly addresses the crowd by saying, “put your hands together for Mick F'ing Jones.” Now Michael starts a little keyboard solo soon joined by Chris on the drums and the next you see is Kelly and the soundboard being lifted up in the air by a riser to sing “Juke Box Hero,” and then the riser coming back down and Kelly making his way back to the stage to end their set with a few bows for the crowd,
        After a much needed short break, the band returned and opened with “I Want to Know What Love Is.” As is the Foreigner tradition, during this song they always invite a local high school choir to fill in and sing along with them. To the delight of the audience, this night it was the Woodrow Wilson High School choir. At times, Kelly and Jeff stood in front of them and guided them along. And as always for a Foreigner concert, they closed with “Hot Blooded” to end their set and a long and enjoyable night of rock and roll at its best.
        I've seen Foreigner quite a few times (we even had them play our Springfest in 2013); but they just get better all the time and to be playing at such a big level and production, it just boggles my mind; but I sure hope they stick it out even longer ‘cause I know I will continue seeing them. Their tour has passed our vicinity now, but if they get close to us again, go and see them. They don't and will not let you down and definitely give you  110 percent on the music and showmanship.
        Check out their website for all info:

– Gary Crouthamel, Concert Photojournalist
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