Last year Foreigner released the excellent Alive & Rocking' concert DVD, which captured their heroic appearance in front of a heavy metal hungry crowd at the 2006 Bang Your Head!!! Festival, in Balingen, Germany. This show featured the recently revamped lineup of Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass), Jason Bonham (drums), Tom Gimbel (guitar & saxophone), Jeff Jacobs (keyboards), and the sole remaining original Foreigner member, Mick Jones, on guitar. Michael Bluestein has since replaced Jacobs on keyboards.
When the original voice of Foreigner, Lou Gramm, quit the band again in 2003, I'm sure it was no easy task to find a worthy replacement for one of the best rock vocalists of his time, but Mick Jones definitely hit a home run when he invited ex-Hurricane frontman, Kelly Hansen, into the fold. Hansen sounds similar enough to Gramm to keep that signature Foreigner sound firmly in tact, but he also has enough unique qualities to elevate these live versions well beyond the originals. The guy sounds amazing, and he is also one of the most charismatic frontmen in the game.
On a gorgeous, June 1st, Sunday night in Ashburn, Virginia, this current incarnation of Foreigner swung by the Loudoun Summer Music Fest as a warm up to their 2008 summer tour, which officially kicks off in July. I never though I would again be so excited about a band I once worshiped way back in junior high school, and haven't really listened to regularly in over 20 years, but after seeing the killer set they turned in on that Alive & Rocking' DVD, I couldn't wait to see in person if these guys were really that good.
With the sun still blazing overhead at about 7:30 PM, Foreigner took the stage and instantly ignited the crowd with the Foreigner 4 leadoff track, "Night Life". They couldn't have picked a more energized song to kick the show off with. Although the sound mix had me a little worried during the first song, the overall volume was much too low and it sounded somewhat muddy, the sound man cleared things up by the second song, and everything sounded awesome for the rest of the show.