I saw Foreigner in concert Wednesday night. For lack of a better term, the show was eh… and that’s putting it politely.
Book suppliers send me books to read and review. If they’re good, and I make it through them, I generally write a favorable review. If they’re bad, I put the books down and spare the authors the tongue-lashing. It just isn’t worth the energy. It’s that whole ‘if you have nothing nice to say’ premise. That, plus I’m not a mean guy. At least I never used to be.
Upon experiencing said Foreigner concert, I was struck by how mediocre the show was. For a band that has released as many hits as your average-to-above-average, pop-rock band (they’ve sold 80 million records), Foreigner’s performance was, dare I say, flat.
Wait, let me take that back. Foreigner outright sucked in concert.
My boys with whom I attended to the concert will probably be laughing about this, considering I brought it up all night long, but the show was mediocre at best.
Which got me thinking about Worst Fives.
We always talk about our favorite this and our second favorite that, the greatest _____ we’ve ever seen. It’s in our nature to rank. Rarely, however, do we talk about our least favorite things. Sure, it’s easy to say we hate liver. That’s on everybody’s bottom five. But instead of talking about the best bands we’ve ever seen live, why do we never talk about the worst?
Well, I’m about to. You’re getting my gist here, right? As much as I hate to say it, of all the concerts I’ve seen, that Foreigner show would have to rank dangerously near the bottom. And I love Foreigner. Maybe that’s why the experience was such a letdown.
At this very same outdoor venue, the constantly-changing-names Amphitheater that resides directly across the interstate from Tampa’s Hard Rock Casino, I’ve seen a ton of classic rock bands: Heart, Journey, Steve Miller, Chicago, Joan Jett, Doobie Brothers, Al Green, Cheap Trick (they opened for Foreigner), Motley Crue, Nine Inch Nails, Kid Rock, Jane’s Addiction, 311. As far as I know, none of the aforementioned tours were sponsored by AARP. Furthermore, none of them were as uneventful as the show I saw Wednesday night.
Maybe I’m just getting crotchety after realizing that maybe those “rock” bands I grooved to in high school weren’t all that rock after all. For every Barracuda, 25 or 6 to 4 and Feels Like the First Time, these bands rolled out some awfully cheesy love ballads like Alone, Hard to Say I’m Sorry and Waiting For A Girl Like You. Somewhere on the way to getting old, my hard rock grew soft… or maybe it always was and I just never realized it.
I suppose it’s not Foreigner’s fault they sucked. The voice who made the band famous, Lou Gramm, no longer tours with them. The band they rolled out Wednesday night was a shell of its former self, with only founder Mick Jones, now 72, at the helm. Which brings us back to the old argument as to when these acts become tribute bands. Other than obviously Jones, not a single band member on stage wrote or recorded any of Foreigner’s top hits. They just play them and most likely get paid handsomely for it. I just wish they did so with a little more effort. Seemed to me like they were going through the motions.
The band’s current lead singer, while able to hit Gramm’s notes, was no Gramm. And he was awfully cheesy at that. In relatively sleazy rock and roll fashion, he kept telling all the ladies in the crowd how good they looked. It was enough to make me throw up in my mouth a few times. We get it, dude. You’re a “rock and roll” star, sort of, and you’re trying to get laid after the show. The fine art of subtlety was lost on Kelly Hansen, who’s been polluting concert halls as Foreigner’s front man since 2005.
I’ve used this analogy before to connote jarring turns of events in my life. I grew up loving Mary Tyler Moore. Who didn’t? But her portrayal of the unloving mother in Ordinary People was so convincing that to this day, I can’t not see her and think of that performance. On the flipside, I’m afraid Foreigner’s performance was so bad, it may stop me from listening to their music altogether… or at least be reminded of how bad a show they put on when I do.
I don’t think it’s too much to ask of a band that hasn’t written a meaningful song in thirty years to still perform their hits with a little soul. Wednesday night featured none of that. The band added accents where they didn’t need to be added as if to put their own stamp on those particular songs.
In a word, it was disappointing.
It’s perfectly okay to speak negative of something if you’re being constructive, right? It’s okay for me to say that a show was blah instead of the hundred other times I’ve walked out of a concert hall saying it was awesome? That’s how businesses with poor Yelp reviews correct what they’re doing wrong. It’s called customer feedback.
Perhaps Foreigner should listen to their critics. Or better yet, listen to themselves and figure out where things went so horribly wrong.