||MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
Eventim Apollo, London
13th April 2014
A very special evening for lovers of hard melodic rock where none of the members from any of the bands have goatee beards, wear baseball caps or have Love and Hate tattooed on their knuckles.
A night of pure unpretentious rock for those who know a good tune when they hear one and there where plenty of them to be had at the Eventim Apollo, or as it is called by anyone with an ounce of rock in their heart - Hammersmith Odeon. I end up spitting beer over my mate every time I say Eventim Apollo.
The last time I saw FM tread these boards was way back when they supported Bon Jovi on their magical 'Slippery When Wet' tour in 1986 and tonight was just like being transported back to that golden year all over again. However this was no nostalgia trip for these boys as they knocked out a set covering their entire career and like all the artists tonight had a bloody good time in doing so.
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Europe are no strangers to this venue either having headlined here on many occasions. Joey Tempest swings his microphone about more than David Coverdale ever could without ever doing himself an injury in the trouser department.
Joey with his youthful looks and gleaming white teeth can still make the ladies get all excited thrusting his mic into the open mouthed faces of those near the front. New tracks from 'Bag Of Bones' are raunchy rockers.
Whilst the ladies remember their teenage years with the ballad 'Carrie', the guys pop off to the bar for another beer before rushing back as they hear the band strike the opening chords to 'Cherokee'. An encore of 'The Final Countdown' is regarded as 'that song' by far too many trendies but 'this song' has to be one of the greatest and instantly recognizable rock anthems of the past three decades. Parptastic.
Now before I make a mess myself, let me get a couple of negatives out of the way before I get all energized about Foreigner's set.
Main man, founder and songwriter Mick Jones didn't appear for the first four songs under doctor's orders following a recent operation, but what was a tad annoying was that it meant the rest of the band, all relatively new to Foreigner, performed four of their best classics on their Jack Jones rather than with Mick.
This would've been the perfect opportunity to at least knock out one track from their last album 'Can't Slow Down to at least give it some kind of authenticity.
Now the for the gung-ho positives. Foreigner came out ready to rock with the emphasis on party. Kelly Hansen just improves as a confident frontman with each passing year. Slim physic and boundless energy, not only does he want to get in your face, he even comes out and climbs over dozens of seats to touch every fan during 'Cold As Ice'.
Mick Jones enters for 'Feels Like The First Time' and his opening chord brings a bit of Britishness rightly into the sound of Foreigner.
Despite his recent health scare, Jones looked comfortable and dressed in a summery relaxed attire. All the band were having fun and making the most of the room of the stage with bassist Jeff Pilson throwing all the right moves.
Many modern melodic rock bands would give their right arm to have any of these tunes but they forget how to roll with the rock.
Upbeat driven anthems like 'Dirty White Boy', 'Long, Long Way From Home' and 'Hot Blooded' is what 'Guitar Hero' was made for and who today would dream of having a breathless saxophone solo like the one in 'Urgent'?
Foreigner even bring on a high school choir for the ballad 'I Want To Know What Love Is' where Hansen insists that everyone must have their arms around the person next to them, regardless of their sex, before the song begins. Everyone duly obliges.
Foreigner have never been better than this as a live act. Contender for the gig of the year.
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Feels Like The First Time
That Was Yesterday
Dirty White Boy
Keyboard and Drum Solo
Juke Box Hero
Long, Long Way From Home
I Want To Know What Love Is
Photos by Noel Buckley