Judge Steve Power has a fever of a hundred and three.
Our reviews of Foreigner: Alive And Rockin' (published November 8th, 2007), Foreigner: All Access Tonight (published July 21st, 2004), and Foreigner: Live (Blu-ray) (published July 30th, 2011) are also available.
From "Cold as Ice" to their new single "Too Late," this thrilling 16-song Soundstage performance proves Foreigner to be more powerful and explosive than ever.
Foreigner are about as representative of the late 70's and early 80's "arena rock" scene as any other band to come out of the era. Their lackadaisical approach to lyrical content and generally accessible blues-tinged riffing combined with a charismatic and suitably wailing front man certainly endeared them to, oh, about 70 million albums worth of people. To the rest of us, they've been thrown into the same swimming pool as bands like Journey, Kansas, and Chicago—AM Gold for the Beavis and Butthead generation, or those reared on the thrash and hair metal of the '80s. While the performance shown here, taken from a 2008 episode of PBS' Soundstage program, probably won't change any minds, it's actually one heck of a well played show.
The first thought that entered my head upon booting up the disc was, "What the hell happened to Lou Gramm!? When did he turn into Steven Tyler?" That was immediately followed by my thought that "Night Life" actually sounded pretty bitchin'. No, the singer wasn't Lou Gramm (or Steven Tyler), and the only original member of the band remaining is founding member Mick Jones, who looks more like a high-school music teacher than a jukebox hero. Mick has used the mad Foreigner coin he's earned wisely, and he's surrounded himself with some great session talent, including Dokken/Dio bassist Jeff Pilson, and drum-god Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin legend, John Bonham. Kelly Hansen does a fantastic job with the vocals, bringing a ton of energy to the classic tunes, and the band plays one hell of a tight set, with nary a note wasted. All of the classic hits Foreigner fans love, and the rest of us hear repeatedly on classic rock radio, are represented, and every tune is performed exceptionally. Sure, the usual cheese-ridden trimmings of Roland keyboards and embarrassing lyrics are present in spades, but the performances have a life behind their sound that makes them quite enjoyable. It's a punchy show, with the only dull moment for me being the keyboard-heavy rendition of "I Want to Know What Love Is," which just screams for a string section or something to fill out the epic sound it's striving for. On the flipside, the surprisingly intimate acoustic rendition of "Say You Will" was fantastic, the new track, "Too Late" is definitely classic Foreigner that should please the fans who stuck around through all the lineup changes, and Zep's "Whole Lotta Love" sneaks in there at one point. Beyond Foreigner fans, people who enjoy a good music performance on DVD will probably enjoy this one as well.
Soundstage has always been a well presented show, and Foreigner definitely suits the more "adult-chic" approach favored by the PBS series. The shiny direction and production values translate well to DVD, with a nice clear picture presented in anamorphic widescreen. It's not perfect, but it's pretty solid for your run of the mill concert DVD. Sound on the other hand is excellent, with a robust 5.1 mix that really fills the room and provides a good bottom end that will give your subwoofer something to do. The crowd has been recorded pretty low in the mix, really putting the music front and center, and the clear, skilled performance from the band really sounds more polished than your typical live show. I hope you don't want any bonus material, because you're not getting any, and that's just cold as ice.
While Foreigner are a far cry from Led Zeppelin, they do what they do with
skill, and Foreigner: Live makes for some solid musical entertainment on
DVD. Not Guilty.
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