With Help From Local Choir, Legendary Band Perform in Charleston For Perhaps One Final Time
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
They are one of rock n' rolls most durable bands, hitting the road almost every year since 1977. Monday night before a near sell out crowd at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center Foreigner brought their 'Feels Like the Last Time' tour to the low country for what appears to be the last time.
Despite 78 year old guitarist and founding member Mick Jones sitting the farewell tour out, the six member unit fronted by long time vocalist Kelly Hansen and bass player Jeff Pilson enthralled fans of the iconic band for just over 90 minutes. With 16 Top 30 hits to their credit, including several chart topping ballads, Foreigner's songs are among the most played catalog on classic rock radio formats.
The boys exploded onto stage offering up a thunderous extended version of 'Double Vision', the title track to their multi-platinum second album. From that moment on they rifled through what can only be described as a double greatest hits album set, with Hansen taking a minute or two between numbers to address the crowd.
From 'Head Games' and 'Cold as Ice' to 'Urgent' and 'Juke Box Hero' fans sang along to easily recognizable numbers, as Hansen kept audience members entertained throughout, asking the ladies in attendance if they enjoyed having a 'naughty guy' to strike their fancy, which was an ideal segue into 'Dirty White Boy', just prior to introducing one of the hardest working bands in all of the entertainment industry.
As with past concerts, Foreigner's show was a blast from the past for baby boomers, with Hansen lightheartedly poking fun at those above 40 and above 50. He stopped at the over 60 mark, not willing to step on the toes of anyone in the crowd that might be 70 plus. Much like a stand-up comic Hansen garnered laughter when trying to explain to the few under 40 what it was like to rewind a cassette tape using a #2 pencil, or recalling when those over 60 could stand for a whole concert.
62 years young Hansen remains an unbridled firecracker and manages to keep the audience thoroughly engaged, often turning the mike stand towards the crowd to have them join in on familiar choruses. He works the stage similar to Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger, invoking an enthusiasm that can only be equaled by the Energizer Bunny, if the famed battery spokes-rabbit strutted across stage with a microphone.
Fans were happy to take a trip down memory lane as Hansen said he was going to take everyone back the beginning. 'Feels Like the First Time' was as welcome on a North Charleston Monday night in 2023 as it was coming from FM radios in 1977.
The crowd on their feet, and with non-stop applause and cellphone lights filling the hall, fans whet their appetite for what was one hell of a send off. With support from the the Charleston County School of the Arts choir under the direction of Heather Hammond, the band slowly edged into 'I Want To Know What Love Is', offering up their biggest across the board hit as more of a soft rock meets Sunday morning church sing-along.
For years Foreigner has allowed local high school choirs to join them in what has become a signature power rock ballad and a fixture near the end of each show. The heavenly voices from the New Jersey Mass Choir helped propel 'I Want To Know What Live Is' to the top of the charts in 1984, and the teenage singers from the Charleston County School of the Arts brought the same intensity to the performing arts stage. The band gave the SOA their due, with Hansen adding arts programs are essential in schools. Part of an epic encore!
Coming full circle Foreigner closed the show with 'Hot Blooded' which was the follow up single to 'Double Vision', with both songs reaching number three and two respectively in the summer of 1978, an incredible feat for a hard rocking band during the disco era. Again with the crowd singing in unison, Hansen asked a capacity crowd 'I Wanna Know, What you're doin' after the show?' No doubt, the crowd left rockin' into the night.
Great bands with even greater songs have long since learned you don't need a whole lot of theatrics to sell a show, relying on neon lights and the occasional blasts of smoke. Foreigner is among the tightest bands touring today, with exceptional musicianship and one hell of a front-man.
During the rock n' roll era iconic bands have come and gone. However, few have made their mark as much as Foreigner. Realizing this tour will be their last left concert goers with a 'bittersweet feels like the last time' feeling. Foreigner has performed in Charleston numerous times, but sensing finality made this show more impactful. Fans I talked with came from as far as Myrtle Beach, Asheville, and Tampa (8 hour drive) to see one of their favorite bands.
They say all good things must come to an end. While this unit with Hansen and Pilson (who both have close to 20 years in the band) may continue to do private shows and a Vegas stint in 2024, it's still sad to see the touring leg of Foreigner close up shop. Hansen further added he and the boys want Foreigner to go out on top. Just shy of five decades the legacy of Foreigner is a testament to the vision of founder Mick Jones.
While a few 1960's era bands i.e The Rolling Stones continue to hit the road, thankfully there are still plenty of bands that got their start in the 70's going strong. Among them are ZZ Top, Skynyrd, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Toto, The Doobie Brothers, and The Eagles. Although they too will soon call it quits, their legendary songs much like Foreigner's will live on until the end of time. Rock n' roll will never die, even as the legends pass on or hang up their guitars!
Foreigner's farewell concert tour continues through mid March before they wrap up 2024 with a residency at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Unless you're planning to visit Vegas I suggest you catch them as they crisscross America. It could very well be your last time to see one of the hardest working bands in the history of rock n' roll. For more visit https://www.foreigneronline.com/tour