Before last weekend, I had no idea how many rockin' hit songs of the 80s were
by Foreigner. Since I was definitely not "hip" with what kids 2 or 3 years older
than me were listening to in the late seventies and early eighties, and since I have
a hard time remembering anything that happened before I was 20, I've always mentally lumped
Foreigner into the same category as REO Speedwagon and Loverboy.
This is not to say that I didn't know any Foreigner songs back in the day actually, my
favorite song when I was 8 or 9 was by Foreigner ... I just didn't know it. Back in '78, in
what was my first musical collaboration with my older brother, we spent hours rehearsing
"Hot Blooded" in the basement. He played guitar and I sang. I assumed that it was a song about
how we're different from the lizards. That seemed like a pretty cool thing to sing about.
When I saw that Foreigner was going to be at the state fair, I was not immediately struck
with the desire to see them. However, Margaret expressed some interest, so I decided to do a little
research. HOT DAMN! How could I have been so blind! Foreigner wrote practically every song I love!
Ok, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but take a look at this list that I made:
Juke Box Hero
Cold as Ice
Waiting for a Girl Like You
I Want to Know What Love Is (ok, this one sucks)
Blue Morning, Blue Day
Long, Long Way From Home
I've left out a few notable songs ... but you surely get the picture. These Foreigners are huge! I had to see
My next question was: just where are they from that makes them Foreigners? The answer to this question
turns out to be more complicated than one would imagine. It actually depends on which particular
Foreigner you're talking about. You see, some of the Foreigners are from the U.S., while other are from
jolly old England! I can only imagine the wackiness that occurs when they go through customs!
Anyway, we arrived at the State Fair four hours before the Foreigner show was scheduled to
start. This gave us plenty of time to eat deep-fried everything, see baby animals of every
variety, watch the hypnotist again, and eat more deep-fried food.
By the time we made it to the area where Foreigner was going to play, the place was packed
wall-to-wall (pretty good for an outdoor show), and the only room for us was standing off to the
side. We did not let this deter us from doing our best to have a great time, however.
Foreigner went on a little late (as rock stars are apt to do). The signature Foreigner
guitar sound blasted out of the State Fair speakers in that polite and safe State Fair way ... but
blew me backwards nonetheless. It was all downhill from there albeit fun.
Apparently, the singer has had some troubles and surgeries in the last few years, and it was
showing. To say that his voice is severely degraded since the heyday is an understatement. He's
also put on more than a few pounds, and he hasn't taken off the mullet. The guitar player, however, was
extremely entertaining. He was the embodiment of Rock Star Attitude. The same goes for the sax player ...
it's never necessary to fall to your knees or do herky-jerky movements during a solo, but
the fact that he did (and did quite well) showed that he was giving 110%. I appreciate that.
In some ways, the show was excellent. Yet it was also a huge disappointment. I was
hoping that Foreigner would blow me off my feet and that I would truly appreciate them
for their music and their contribution to Rock. I really didn't want to view them in an "ironic
generation X cheesy music appreciation" way. However, in the end, that's just what had to happen.
The basic problem with this Foreigner 25 year reunion tour is that it's ridiculous. The singer
can't sing half the songs (so they end up playing lots of ballads), the venues are almost exclusively
state fairs and Indian casinos, Foreigner live just doesn't sound anywhere near as good as
Foreigner recordings, and they've got no sense of humor about the whole thing. By the time they
got to the third encore and the singer yelled "We're going to leave you with a little BLOOD!", I
honestly didn't care how they left, as long as they did and didn't come back.