Hot Blooded At Blossom: Foreigner and Whitesnake
July 11th, 2018
Legacy bands are all the rage right now. Whether it's a band of millennials eager to see what all the fuss is regarding their parents' favorite bands or middle-aged accountants trying to relive the halcyon days of their youth, outfits like Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd and, especially, Foreigner, are as hot as a walk on a Hawaiian beach right now.
Foreigner recently celebrated their fortieth anniversary and have shown no signs of slowing down. Each time they've played Northeast Ohio the legacy band has attracted huge crowds. Although most of the musicians that helped to make the band the juggernaut that they still are today have moved on, including lead vocalist and song co-writer Lou Gramm, throngs don't care. They just want to hear the tunes that have become such a large part of the contemporary American Songbook.
Band founder Mick Jones, at a spry 73 years old, still makes appearances with his outfit, but the band is also made up of a bevy of heavy hitters. Kelly Hansen (of Hurricane fame) joined the band as the lead vocalist in the early aughts, after Lou Gramm left once and for all. Channeling Steven Tyler, Hansen's a capable frontman and helps to erase the loss of Gramm. Jeff Pilson, who played with Dokken and Dio, started plunking the strings as the resident bass player in 2004. Rhythm guitarist/saxophonist Thom Gimbel joined Foreigner in the mid '90s, while Michael Bluestein has been the band's keyboardist since 2008. Guitarist Bruce Watson joined the group in 2011 and drummer Chris Frazier has been pounding on the skins since 2012.
Okay, professional credentials aside, how was the show?
Remember the Foreigner greatest hits album, Records, that came out about thirty years ago? That's pretty much what we got: A two-hour live version of that record. It's amazing to think how prolific this outfit was in their heyday. Every song that made them popular got played last night. Opening with "Long, Long Way From Home," vocalist Hansen really set the tone for the rest of the evening. Coming to the stage last, founder Jones made his first appearance with the band in Northeast Ohio since 2012. Although Foreigner has played here numerous times, Jones had sat out those several appearances.
Offering up a trifecta of pop perfection, "Double Vision," "Head Games," and "Cold As Ice" were served up to really get the audience going. In fifth position was "Waiting For A Girl Like You;" Hansen did a killer job on this rendition, it's easy to see why he was tapped to replace the iconic vocals of past frontman Gramm. It was almost enough to make you forget that he was once a member of this band.
And the hits continued...there wasn't a misfire in the entire set. "Dirty White Boy," "Urgent" and, of course, "Jukebox Hero" all made mid-set appearances, followed by "I Want To Know What Love Is" and a phenomenal rendition of "Hot Blooded," which brought the crowd to their feet on an uncharacteristically cool July evening at Blossom.
Starting the evening off was Jason Bonham and his Led Zeppelin Experience. Drummer Bonham is the son of deceased Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. The elder Bonham has been considered by many (including Rolling Stone) to be the best rock drummer of all time. Playing a short set of forty minutes or so, the band covered much of his father's material. It served to warm the crowd up and prepare them for the next two acts.
Former Deep Purple frontman David Coverdale brought his talents to Blossom's stage next with his most well-known project Whitesnake. Founded in 1978, the outfit achieved a high level of success in the mid-1980s with tunes such as "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love?"
Bringing a level of intensity to the proceedings, Coverdale displayed an energy for a man half his age. Joel Hoekstra, of Trans-Siberian Orchestra notoriety, brought his million-watt smile to the stage. His shredding and hair-whirling almost stole the show from Coverdale.
Journeyman drummer Tommy Aldridge pounded on the skins from high aloft the back of the stage. "Reb" Beach, of Winger and Dokken fame, rounded out the roster of talented musicians.
Offering a ten-song set, they started off with "Bad Boys" from the eponymously-titled 1987 album. Mid-set offering "Crying In The Rain" showcased Aldridge's drumming capabilities (and, oh boy, what a drummer), which was then followed up with the massive hit "Is This Love?"
Closing out the night were two more of the band's hits, "Here I Go Again" and "Still of the Night."
Photos and Review by Brian M. Lumley