Foreigner recently ventured out on their 40th anniversary tour and brought along Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience with them, which promised to be a long night of awesome live music. The tour recently made a stop in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek a/k/a “could our name be any longer?” It turned into a rather interesting night for us on many levels.
First up was Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience which is pretty much a tribute band of sorts with Bonham (whose dad was John Bonham of Led Zeppelin in case you didn’t know) and friends playing covers of Led Zeppelin songs. We could kind of hear some of the songs from the VIP entrance which is where several of my fellow photographers and myself waited because we had no idea if we had been approved or not to shoot Bonham on this particular evening. As the band started playing, we figured out that we weren’t going to be doing so. It would have been nice to have been told this info and better yet, let into the venue to watch Bonham’s set since some of us had review tickets. I wish I could tell you about their set, but I have no clue.
After missing all of Bonham’s set, we were finally led in and found out we had no tickets waiting for us although we were provided with two from the band. We had to immediately be taken down to the photopit to shoot Cheap Trick who were just minutes away from performing, so the ticket issue had to wait. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members were up next and their stage, as usual, was stripped down to the basics. There was a large, black and white checkerboard backdrop onstage which nicely matched the small wall of black and white checked speakers. After the second best introduction in rock and roll history (2nd to KISS’ “You wanted the best”) the band kicked things off with “Hello There” from their 1977 album In Color followed by “Long Time No See Ya” from last year’s highly underappreciated Bang, Zoom, Crazy….Hello. The guys seemed to be in a great mood, even though it took a bit to get the sound as close to completely right as possible.
There were a few cool surprises thrown in including the live debut of “Nowhere” from their new studio album We’re All Alright! and “Wrong All Along” from their 1997 self-titled album. It was cool to hear “If You Want My Love” from 1982’s One on One album as well as the “hits” including “Ain’t That a Shame” and “The Flame,” but the band really let it all rip out for their three song closer. They played “I Want You to Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender” and those songs really seemed to get the majority of the crowd (finally) off of their asses and up clapping and singing along. These guys come out and kill it each and every show and even though some crowds, including this one, only seemed to recognize and get into the “hits,” they still bring it full speed for the entire show. Yes, I know there were quite a few people who were into it, standing and singing for the entire show, but I am talking about the majority and not the minority which was us.
Foreigner closed out the evening and Mick Jones, who at this point is the only original member still in the band, was a no-show again at this show with no explanation being given. The band is made up of a bunch of incredibly talented guys including Jeff Pilson (Dokken) on bass, Thom Gimbel on keys, sax and rhythm guitar and Bruce Watson on guitar. Kelly Hansen has been handling the lead vocalist role in the band since 2005. The show was packed with nothing but the hits from beginning to end including “Double Vision,” “Cold as Ice” and “Urgent.” Kelly was very engaging and full of energy for the entire show and ran all over the stage like a squirrel after consuming an energy drink. It was exhausting watching him cover that entire stage, so I tip my hat to him for his energy and for how great he sounded. Actually, he and the entire band sounded pretty amazing during their short set that was only eleven songs and a couple of solos. The problem is that it just a little too calculated and cliché for me, all the way down to the dialog to the audience. Who knows; maybe I was in the minority on this one as the crowd seemed to be eating it up and I’m ok with that.
So, it was an odd evening for us on many levels, but the saving grace was Cheap Trick delivering and in our opinion stealing the show on this particular evening. They may not have anywhere as many “hits” as Foreigner has under their belt, but I think they ran circles around them on many levels. I heard a few people commenting as they left that they saw two tributes bands on this night and one real band being Cheap Trick. Yet, others were screaming almost the complete opposite, so to each his own. Art is always open to different interpretations; two people can see or look at the same thing and be impacted in completely different ways. I guess I will sum it up to the power of art then and leave it at that.
Here are a few pix of Foreigner from their 8/6/17 appearance the Coastal Credit Union Music Park in Raleigh, North Carolina! Click on each image for a larger view!
Here are a few pix of Cheap Trick from their 8/6/17 appearance the Coastal Credit Union Music Park in Raleigh, North Carolina! Click on each image for a larger view!