When does a band stop being an original band? It's a question we sometimes ask, especially us old timer, classic rock junkies. I had an amazing opportunity to shoot Foreigner last night and I was crazy excited. But the band I saw was not Foreigner. I've seen Foreigner, several times. I grew up listening Foreigner, since I was old enough to sing to the radio. The band I saw at the Stir Cove, Council Bluffs, IA on 9/3/2022 were imposters. Good imposters but not one original member was on that stage. Not one.
Now, have a Wayne's World dissolve, doodly doo moment with me if you will.
Foreigner has been a favorite band of mine since I was a little kid. I remember hearing those words "hot blooded!" blaring on the radio, when I was playing outside. I was so excited by it (I was like 4 or 5 ya'll) that I ran into the house and screamed to my mother "MOM, MOM! I'M HOT BLOOODED!" Annoyed she groaned "Tawnya don't yell in the house and don't walk on my clean floor!" I ran back out to play and the song was over. But I never forgot that moment. As time went on and I got older, the songs meant more. Juke Box Hero was my jam!
In 1985 I saw the band for the first time at the Civic Auditorium with guest Joe Walsh. They had literally just flown in from Live Aid! Lou Gramm was tired and worn out, but you wouldn't know it, he still rocked the entire house to the ground! I will never forget it. I bought an Agent Provocateur concert t-shirt that I am sure is either a rag in a container of other concert rags or has been lost in many moves. I digress, kind of. I will go on to have seen this band three more times before the age of 25. The last two times front and center, giving me lots of eye contact with Mick Jones which in turn got me three (count 'em three) guitar picks that I cherish and keep in a sacred location (a tote with all my other rock memorabilia).
Ok so where am I going with my personal story? I am going to the damn fact that Foreigner was not on stage that night. I read that Mick Jones was being compared to an injured baseball player. He plays it day-by-day. I wish him good health, I really do. But when he is not there, he dubs this cover band to be Foreigner. Uh, no.
Too many bands are doing this now. Sometimes one or two original people are replaced. For years I was aggravated about Steve Perry being replaced by Arnel Pineda but the two major writers and essences of Journey is still there, and Arnel is spot on.
The Little River Band, I LOVE THESE guys and they were the first band I reached out too directly who said yes to letting me photograph them. But they catch a lot of hell about who is in their original line up.
As a concert goer and I have been one since I was 11, I have and will pay good money to see my hero's perform. I recently gave up going to Eric Clapton in Ohio for personal reasons but he was worth a plane ticket, hotel, and admissions because I know every tour could be his last and I worship him. We pay good money to see concerts, Foreigner were no exception. $50+ for a cover is fine so long as you understand that is what you are paying for. You should get some kind of heads up when you buy the ticket. If you don't care and just went for the music then don't read any further. But I do care, I pay money to see the artist printed on the ticket. At least one of them better be there!
So okay, now that I have explained what they are not, let me tell you who I did see.
Kelly Hanson is an energetic front man, with a decent set of pipes. Kelly chooses a Stephen Tyler style, I assume that is what he is going for because he screams it with the scarfs, tight pants and black feathered hair. He did a lot jumping around, swinging the standing mic and climbing the side of the scaffolding; anything to get the cheer and hollers from the crowd was entertaining. LSD (lead singer disease) would be putting it mildly for this guy. However, I am not sure if he was just getting tired, tired of the tour or tired of the photographers, because at 61, running around the stage like a wild monkey night after night, can have that effect when you're on a big tour.
At the end of the third song I was given to shoot, Kelly Hanson took his mic stand and put it so close to my camera lens that I was beginning to think he might actually touch it. As I was shooting what was probably going to become my evidence, I noticed that he wasn't smiling, he wasn't joking, he was looking at me with disgust. Several pictures are posted so that you know I am not crazy.
The only reason I am giving the front man Kelly any observation is because he turned out to be a dick. This band needs to retire. It's okay to let a band retire. This isn't easy for me to say. I love Foreigner, but I own various forms of music media (vinyl, CD, Playlist etc) and I always know where to find it when I need or want it.
Mick, if you don't have any of the original band members on stage performing the songs that wrote them its not the same band. Let it go. Start something new and call it something new.
I would like to comment on the music I heard from the first three songs I heard while in the photo pit. They sounded a lot like Foreigner! Better than any tribute band out there because they have been hand picked and have the backing of Mick Jones, which gives them access to the good sheet music. And of course the Foreigner name, which brings the crowd.
And for those of you who are about to flip out about the fact that Mick is still a member of the band, I am reviewing this show and only this show. If he shows up in the next show then only the couple thousand in my hometown missed it.
I am not giving them a traditional review because I didn't stay for the show.
For 3 reasons. 1. I had to walk across the parking lot in the heat to put my camera away and would have to walk back through security and the crowd to find a place to watch the show. All because they don't trust us to be adults and keep our camera in our bags. 2. They packed a full house of people who thought they were going to see at least one member of Foreigner 3. The lead singer was rude and disrespectful with his big stick.
Kelly Hanson if you don't like photographers, then don't allow them. Simple as that. You do have a say. If you want us out of the way, put us out of the pit, but being an asshole shouldn't be allowed.