Rocktopia Features Foreigner

Foreigner - The Palladium, London (UK) - 7 June 2016

With the London Palladium now hosting more Rock shows, founding member Mick Jones brings his version of Foreigner to this prestigious venue. It's hard to believe that singer Kelly Hansen has been in the band twelve years, yet is still seen as the "new guy". His vocal work has enough of original lead singer Lou Gramm's tone to keep the songs sounding authentic, yet he still manages to stamp his own identity on these AOR classics.

Classics is exactly what this show is all about, with opening number 'Double Vision' effortlessly flowing into 'Head Games' and 'Cold As Ice'. Hansen, wearing a striped shirt and sunglasses (resembling a young Steven Tyler), engages the audience at every opportunity, even climbing down and singing among the seats at the front.


Former Dokken man Jeff Pilson races around the stage, laying down solid bass lines, while supplying part of the "wall of sound" backing vocals. The revamped acoustic version of 'Say You Will' is a masterpiece of vocal harmony, and my highlight of tonight's show. Founding member Mick Jones is often a forgotten hero of the guitar world, but what he lacks in flash showmanship, he more than makes up for with solid ear-catching guitar riffs; he demonstrates this to perfection during 'Dirty White Boy' and 'Juke Box Hero'. On occasion, Jones has had to sit out shows, or only play part of them due to health problems. Luckily tonight, he stays with us for the full set, therefore looking after his musical legacy.

The "radio-friendly" ballads are all here as well; 'Waiting For A Girl Like You' and 'I Want To Know What Love Is' (complete with Notting Hill School Choir) both reminding us of the glory days when Foreigner ruled the airwaves.

Only the keyboard and drum solo lose some of the momentum, taking up the time better used by adding at least one song from underrated album 'Can't Slow Down' the only studio release from this version of the band.

'Urgent' has lost none of its infectious groove live, and comes complete with an extended saxophone solo from talented multi-instrumentalist Thom Gimbel, before the band encores with 'Hot Blooded'. This gets the crowd on their feet (where the majority have been since the opening number!) and the capacity audience sings along enthusiastically to bring this show to a rousing conclusion.

Ray Paul