Rock icons Foreigner returned to South Florida last week with a packed-house performance at Au-Rene Theater, the largest venue of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, a large entertainment complex located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. After 40 years of existence as a band, more than 80 million records sold, and staple radio hits sung by three different generations Foreigner have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. Mick Jones and company could retire tomorrow and still be considered one of the most influential rock bands to ever emerge in the late seventies. Despite the lineup changes over the years and with Jones being the last remaining original band member, the band has been riding a wave of renaissance since 2005, in part due to the wise addition of Kelly Hansen as the lead singer, whose amazing voice and endless on-stage energy has helped them to carry on and continue touring non-stop.
The concert was part of the band’s 40th-anniversary tour, a journey that has now stretched into their 41st year and includes a local orchestra joining the for every performance. The guys kicked it off with “Blue Morning, Blue Day” and then ran through 8 more of their biggest hits including “Cold as Ice”, Double Vision” and a couple of acoustic renditions of “Say You Will” and “The Flame Still Burns”. Clad in skin-tight jeans and a long grey T-shirt under a magenta jacket Hansen is a front-man who seems to possess unlimited stage-charisma and the stamina of a marathon runner. He never stopped moving, dancing and working the crowd as he hit all the notes effortlessly on the challenging songs, interacting with an audience dominated by couples in their 40s and 50s, reliving the times when they sang “Urgent” at their high-school parties. Bassist Jeff Pilson was nearly as energetic as Hansen with his back-and-forth stage racing, while Mick Jones took center stage several times, delivering blistering lead guitar work on various Gibson guitars, accompanied in occasions by Thom Gimbel’s saxophone sections. After singing “Fool for You Anyway”, the only song in the setlist from their 2009 – and latest – album Can’t Slow Down, they returned to the classics with “Hot Blooded” and closed the set with extended version of “Jukebox Hero” prefaced by a bombastic drum entrance and featuring a crisp and polished guitar solo by Bruce Watson.
The theater exploded in a unison cheering when they returned for an encore, and obviously, no Foreigner concert is complete without “I Want to Know What Love Is”. Hansen urged the fans to hug whoever was near them, and the multitude sang the chorus of the timeless hit until the final note. Amidst a thunderous ovation, the band bowed and disappeared backstage leaving every soul in attendance satisfied yet wanting for more. Aging rock bands need grit, gumption and a pure love of the genre to play for four decades, and Foreigner has that in spades. Impeccable musicianship and expert showmanship fleshing out the harmonies of their landmark compositions is their formula to maintain and continue honoring a legacy carved in the stones of the universal history of music.
Blue Morning, Blue Day / Cold as Ice / Waiting for a Girl Like You / Say You Will (Acoustic) / The Flame Still Burns (Acoustic) / Double Vision / Feels Like the First Time / Urgent / Fool for You Anyway / Hot Blooded / Juke Box Hero
Encore: I Want to Know What Love Is