Foreigner 40th Anniversary Tour, with Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow, Virginia, USA, July 25, 2017
Growing up in the late 1970s, it was hard to turn on the radio without hearing songs by Foreigner, Cheap Trick, or Led Zeppelin. All three bands, although different in their styles, were all icons of the time. But unlike many bands of the seventies, the music produced by these three acts remains popular and relevant today… four decades later. Although an impressive feat in and of itself, Foreigner and Cheap Trick have continued to tour and produce new music through the years… and are still able to draw large arena sized crowds with their ever-classic sound. Although Led Zeppelin elected to disband in 1980 following the tragic and untimely death of their drummer John Bonham, their music can still be heard live today, as John Bonham’s son Jason has “taken up the torch” and tours the world with his band, giving crowds the chance to continue to experience Led Zeppelin’s music live. The opportunity to see all three acts perform on a single night on one stage was too good to pass up… so I got in the car and made the 2 ½ hour drive to see the show on a pleasantly cool evening this July.
The Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience (JBLZE) was up first. Jason Bonham is a well-respected session drummer and has performed with many famous musicians over the years, as well as performing with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin at a few reunion shows. He is an extremely well respected drummer in his own rite, and there really is no one better to give a live homage to his late father’s band. I love that JBLIZE doesn’t actually try to “be” Led Zeppelin. Unlike a lot of tribute bands, they do not try to emulate the stage presence members of Led Zeppelin. All the musicians in this group have their own unique stage presence as they give us an impressive rendition of the classic Zeppelin music. As he always does, Jason took a moment during the show to lead the audience in a shout out to his father up in heaven. It was a great set! I didn’t realize that, unlike the other two bands that were playing that evening, JBLZE’s set was a soundboard shoot… so I didn’t bring any long lenses. Which means I wasn’t able to get any close-up shots of the band… sorry about that everyone.
JBLZE set list
Good Times Bad Times
Over the Hills and Far Away
The Wanton Song
What Is and What Should Never Be
When the Levee Breaks
Whole Lotta Love
Cheap Trick took the stage next and gave us a 14 song set of their classic tunes from the 70s and the 80s as well as a couple new songs from their most recent album… 2017’s “We’re All Alright!”. Having been on the music scene even longer than Foreigner (formed in 1973), Cheap Trick has been a very prolific band… releasing 18 studio albums to date. This version of Cheap Trick was pretty close to the classic lineup, with Robin Zander on lead vocals and guitar, Rick Nielson on lead guitar, and Tom Petersson on his classic 12 string bass. Drumming duties have been taken over by Rick Nielson’s son Daxx in recent years. Cheap Trick has been a very consistent band over the years, sticking to their successful pop/rock formula that catapulted them to success four decades ago. It is always fun see them live after playing their records incessantly during my high school days back in the seventies. They put on a great show, both visually and musically. As expected, Rick Nielson was the scene stealer with his crazy on stage antics and constantly changing parade of oddly shaped and colorful guitars.
Cheap Trick set list
Long Time Coming
Ain’t That a Shame (Fats Domino cover)
You Got It Going On
Magical Mystery Tour (The Beatles cover)
I’m Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground cover with Tom Petersson on lead vocals)
I Want You to Want Me
Never Had a Lot to Lose
I was pretty excited when Foreigner finally took the stage. Having been a fan since their first album release in 1977, Foreigner will forever be a huge part of my musical memories of my formative years. For some strange reason or another, however… after all of these years… I had never been able to catch live Foreigner concert… so tonight would be a big first for me. I did have some trepidation going into the show however, as this was not quite the Foreigner of my childhood memories… Foreigner was founded in 1976 by Guitarists Mick Jones and Ian McDonald, as well as vocalist Lou Gramm. Mick Jones is the only remaining original member with Ian having departed in 1980, and Lou having departed in 2004. Lou was replaced by Kelly Hansen, who remains the bands current vocalist. But all trepidation vanished within seconds of the band hitting the stage with a trio of high energy classic songs, including “Double Vision”, “Head Games”, and “Cold as Ice”. Kelly Hansen is a master showman and he and the rest of the band took us on a nostalgic journey down memory lane with a total of 12 of the bands classic rockers and power ballads.
Foreigner is currently a seven-member band with additional members Thom Gimbel (since 1992) and Bruce Watson (since 2011) on guitars, Jeff Pilson of Dokken fame on bass (since 2004), Michael Bluestein on keyboards (since 2008), and drummer Chris Frazier (since 2012). The stage itself was fairly simple with small risers for the keyboards and the drums. There was a huge backdrop with the number 40 logo (similar to the cover of Foreigner’s “4” album) to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the band’s first album. There was a tremendous amount of interaction between the band members during the show, which is also nice to see in a band that has been around for so long. There was a lot of interaction with the audience as well, including Kelly Hansen making a trip out into the audience in the early part of the show for some face time with audience members that weren’t so fortunate to be right up next to the stage. Another highlight of the show was during the first encore when a local high school choir took to the stage to perform with the band during the song “I Want to Know What Love Is”. The evening ended with the energetic hit “Hot Blooded”
Foreigner set list
Cold as Ice
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Blue Morning, Blue Day
Dirty White Boy
Feels Like the First Time
Juke Box Hero
I Want to Know What Love Is (with the Freedom High School Chorus)
All in all, it was a great evening of classic rock with three talented and energetic bands keeping the music alive. From the noise the audience made throughout the concert, it was very obvious the almost sold out crowd agreed with my assessment. If you haven’t seen it yet, there is still time to catch this tour as it continues almost until mid-September. So, come see the show!