Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
One of the most popular radio rock bands of the 20th century is returning to the Golden Triangle this weekend.
Foreigner will perform at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 9, at Ford Arena in Beaumont. Tickets for the all ages concert at $35 - $55 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, including HEB on Dowlen Road and the Ford Park box office, as well as www.ticketmaster.com and by phone at 800-745-3000. There is no opening act.
The band still features guitarist and song-writer Mick Jones, as well as Kelly Hansen, vocals; Jeff Pilson, bass; Chris Frazier, percussion; Thom Gimbel, guitar; and Michael Bluestein, keyboards.
Foreigner is a British-American rock band which formed in 1976 and featured Jones along with original vocalist, Lou Gramm. The group has sold approximately 80 million albums around the world, nearly half of that amount being purchased by rock fans in the United States. The group has released 39 singles, 14 of which were Top 20 releases and includes hits such as “Juke Box Hero,” “Hot-Blooded,” “Cold as Ice,” “Urgent,” as well as its No. 1 mega-hit, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
The 21st century version of the band is known for its relentless touring, and the band plans on reacquainting itself with rock fans from Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana for the first time since its last local performance in December 2006.
The band’s bassist, Jeff Pilson, joined the group in 2004 and began touring with the unit in 2005. He has been a fan “for life” he said, even back in the days when he played bass with Dokken.
“It’s always funny when we play and people come up to us and say they knew every single song in our set or they didn’t realize how many of our songs they did know,” Pilson said in a telephone interview. “This band has a lot of really good songs. Original vocalist Lou Gramm has one of the greatest voices ever, and it is also because of the top-knotch songwriting by Mick (Jones).”
Pilson said the band is seeing a resurgence in its popularity over the past several years and he believes it has a lot to do with the songs and musicianship of Jones.
“Mick Jones is such an amazing songwriter, but, if anything about this band is underrated, it would be how good of a guitarist Mick truly is,” Pilson added. “He ranks right up there with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. He’s that good.”
Foreigner may get referred to as a “classic” rock band because of the time period it was formed, but the band is anything but a nostalgia act.
Foreigner released its first CD of original material in 15 years with “Can’t Slow Down” in October 2009. Then, in September 2011, the band “re-invented” some of its hit songs in an acoustic format and released it the album, “Acoustique.”
Although the group just released a new compilation album on Feb. 3, “I Want to Know What Love Is - The Ballads,” Pilson said the band has plenty of life left and new music is part of the equation.
“Our creative juices are still flowing, and there is talk of new music,” Pilson explained. “But it’s a different world now and we tour year-round. There’s no timeline, but I will tell you that we definitely want to get some new music out.”
The band performed live on Fox and Friends on Tuesday morning and announced a late spring and early summer tour with Styx and Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles. The tour will traverse the United States with 50 cities on the itinerary and begins in Oklahoma City on May 16. In the meantime, the band is in the midst of touring the U.S. and Canada through mid-March, and then it will travel to Israel, the United Kingdom and other European destinations through late April.
Pilson, who described himself as a fan “for life” of Foreigner, said he does not really have a favorite song to perform.
“There are just so many good songs,” Pilson said. “It’s a little hard to choose just one, but there are definitely a lot of highlights. That is what has made it so great being part of this band. Mick is the greatest guy in the world, and we rock every time we hit the stage. It’s fun being in a band that kicks butt every night.”
Visit www.fordpark.com for more information about Sunday’s concert. Visit www.foreigneronline.com for more information about the band.