Foreigner w/ Loverboy • July 09, 2023 • MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amp — Tampa, FL • Photos by Randy Cook — instagram.com/horns_raised
FOREIGNER LIVE REVIEW
Foreigner | July 9, 2023 |MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, FL
Review by: Randy Cook
When rock n roll titans Foreigner announced a farewell tour late in 2022 to commence in the summer of 2023, I had circled the Tampa date as a must see. This is a band that I can say I literally grew up with. Before I ever hit my teenage years, my older siblings in the late 70s and early 80s had Foreigner’s records on near continual repeat I remember. Fast forward a few decades later and Foreigner brought their ‘The Historic Farewell Tour’ to Tampa as the third stop on this farewell endeavor to thank the fans for our continued support over the years.
Foreigner leader and founder Mick Jones said: “Many years ago, I wrote a song called ‘Feels Like The First Time’, and today we are launching one last worldwide tour. We will be presenting a show that I know will have the same enthusiasm as our very first appearances…while I’m sure our fans will have mixed feelings about the end of the road for the band, I know our shows are going to delight audiences everywhere.”
The day of the show arrives and I begin the adventure carpooling to the venue with my friend Lord Nikon and his wife. Spirited musical conversation ensues enroute regarding the show ahead. This always occurs with any road trip with his Lordship, as he has already forgotten more about rock history than I will ever know.
Foreigner continued their tradition of inviting local high school band choirs to enter a contest with a chance to open the show when the tour arrived in their town. Selected from our area “About 20 students from Frostproof Middle-Senior High School’s choir will open the concert at MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.” Sadly, traffic was a nightmare trying to get into the venue so we missed the local choir. As we were waiting to get into the parking lot, I had to hop out of the car and dash to get to the box office and get my credentials and ticket. I made it to the designated photographer meeting area with literally two minutes to go before we photographers were escorted to the photo pit for Loverboy.
Ten time platinum selling Loverboy opened the show. This was my second time seeing Loverboy. That number is surprisingly low considering they also were one of the bands I grew up listening to since I discovered them back in the MTV days. I did one time hear them play outside of a paid ticketed show, but I do not count that toward my show list. Opening their set with ‘Notorious’, ‘Lucky Ones’, and ‘Queen of the Broken Hearts’ my three songs from the photo pit felt very casual and not rushed. There was some daylight during my time behind the lens and that made for some great captures.
Formed in 1979, Loverboy has released nine studio albums and I can recall how their song ‘Turn Me Loose’ had “heavy guitars” in it when I was a kid. That song was the frequent subject of me being told by my step-dad to ‘turn that rock music down!’ By the time I made it to my seat (at this venue we have to stow our camera gear with the Security team after our three songs) the band was already into ‘The Kid is Hot Tonight’. Lead singer Mike Reno made mention of how the temperature was fitting for this song. Next up was the ballad ‘Heaven in Your Eyes’ from the soundtrack of the original Top Gun movie, and not only did couples start dancing in the aisles of their seats, Mike Reno himself pointed out to the crowd how singing this song still gives him goosebumps.
The love ballad segued right into the hits everyone had been waiting for. The crowd was on their feet and singing along for the remaining songs as the band saved their biggest hits for last and even had me singing along with ‘Lovin’ Every Minute of It’, ‘Hot Girls in Love’, and ‘Turn Me Loose’. I had to start heading toward the Security area to get my camera was the band closed out their set with ‘Working for the Weekend’ and the crowd rewarded the band with an extended, rousing applause once the final notes hit our ears. One thing I would like to note, Mike Reno can still hit those high notes, in no way did he rely on the crowd to carry the songs. It was a fantastic performance.
Then it was time for the reason we were all there this evening. The crowd roared as one as the members of Foreigner took the stage. Part of the discussion on the ride over to the show included whether or not we would see Mick Jones perform, knowing it was announced he would only play a handful of dates. He is the last remaining original member and one of the founders of Foreigner. Unfortunately Mick did not make an appearance this evening but every single person in that venue knew he was there in spirit. The band was founded in 1967 and their historical album sales are certified platinum twenty seven times over! With nine studio albums, and yet no new music released since 2009, the band continues to nearly sell out these twenty thousand person venues with their anthemic rock hits, which to this day continue to have massive radio airplay.
The opening notes to ‘Double Vision’ begin and the crowd’s roar gets three times as loud as when the band hit the stage. It is evident if the show is starting off with that monster hit, then for the rest of the night we were in for few deep cuts. Lead vocalist, Kelly Hansen, greeted the crowd with a smile and a wave and tore into one of the band’s biggest hits. A very simple and open set design gave plenty of room for guitarists Luis Maldonado and Bruce Watson to move around and interact with each other and the crowd as they traded off playing lead throughout the set. Bassist Jeff Pilson was seated off to the left of Chris Frazier’s drum kit. Reading after the show, Jeff is suffering from a back injury and that is the only way he is able to perform.
The opening song concludes and the band pivots into ‘Head Games’, another of their monster hits. The crowd stays on their feet and the band sounds absolutely spectacular even from that close up in the photo pit. Each instrument is clearly heard and the vocals are crisp and clean. My third and final song behind the lens up front in the photo pit, ‘Cold As Ice’, concludes and I am headed to go get my camera stowed so I can get back to my seat and see the show. As I was walking to the Security area I could hear the crowd sing along with ‘Waiting for a Girl Like You’. I get my gear stowed and return to my seat just in time to sing along with the opening lines of ‘Dirty White Boy’.
This was my third time seeing Foreigner and nearly as I expected, the age demographics of the show were skewed towards my generation and a little older but I noticed a strong showing of younger people in the crowd. I think I even witnessed what were three generations passing in the aisles in the distance at one point, as the family resemblance was that convincing to me between the three of them.
The next part of the show turned acoustic and all of the band members were seated facing us in a semi-circle. ‘When It Comes to Love’ and ‘Girl on the Moon’ were the only two songs that I did not recognize of the evening and before the band closed out the acoustic portion, Kelly made a comment to the tune of everything we were hearing tonight was played live, there was no backing tracks in use. The band closed out the acoustic portion with ‘Say You Will’ and I think the people in the area around me were singing louder than the band was. I call that that some great crowd reaction. Kelly then took the time to introduce the band and jokingly asked the crowd the order we wanted them in, by age or by band seniority?
To say that this show was a walk down memory lane is an understatement. I tried not to let myself get lost in the moment so I could actually enjoy what was being performed in front of me. We all knew that the rest of the night was nothing but every mega hit yet played. When the band launched into ‘Feels Like the First Time’ the crowd was instantly back on their feet singing along and stayed doing so for ‘Urgent’ which was next up. After both a keyboard and a drum solo, the opening notes of ‘Juke Box Hero’ start and we hear the vocals but no Kelly on stage. There was a small rising platform near the soundboard that had quietly been set up during the instrument solos and there was Kelly up there singing with half the crowd still not sure where he was. This song closed out the main set and the band took a bow at the front of the stage but we all knew that the show was not over.
When the opening notes of ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ started the entire crowd was lit up under the glare of cell phones in hand, above people’s heads with flashlights on. I tried to get a cell phone photo of it but it did not turn out that well and I was instead more focused on the song and knowing the minutes of this show were nearing their end. The band finished off their set in spectacular fashion, unleashing a barrage of pyro and flames emitting from the stage as the band played ‘Hot Blooded’ to finish out the show. Because of the traffic nightmare that venue is to get in and out of, and seeing as how it was a work night, we did not stay for the final bow of the evening, opting for an exit as those last few notes were being played.
Although our seats were not next to each other during the show and I was absent for a couple of songs, banter on the ride home between Lord Nikon, his wife, and I was like we were all sitting right there together. We all had a fantastic time, agreed that the acoustics were spot on and with his Lordship being a concert photographer of greater skill than I, we talked about how great the lighting was for when I was up there behind the lens capturing the moments of my youth in the distance.
For current and still to be announced dates see: https://www.foreigneronline.com/tour
Luis Maldonado – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals
Chris Frazier – drums and percussion
Bruce Watson – rhythm and lead guitars, backing vocals
Michael Bluestein – keyboards, backing vocals
Kelly Hansen – lead vocals, percussion
Jeff Pilson – bass, backing vocals
Foreigner set list:
Cold as Ice
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Dirty White Boy
When It Comes to Love
Girl on the Moon
Say You Will
Feels Like the First Time
Juke Box Hero
I Want to Know What Love Is
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