Written by Dave Clements
I recently heard that often bands bypass the Houston Market because they don’t like to play HERE (referring to this market). Not sure it’s true or where ‘here’ is given that our area has several terrific music venues, small to large and everything in-between, and they sure seem to be providing us with lots of live music this year including two terrific Classic Rock and Roll bands this evening in the beautiful Woodlands, Texas.
One of the ‘Top of List’ venues in Houston is The Woodlands Pavilion and they have had a significant line up of artists this summer and the crowds have been equally significant in spite of the heat that has engulfed the Great State of Texas for several weeks now – with more coming!
Tonight, when the house lights dimmed (you couldn’t tell as the harsh sun was still above the upper part of the lawn) the full house welcomed the Canadian rock band Loverboy enthusiastically. This four-piece band came out ready to show us that ‘cool weather people could hang tough with us warm weather people.’ Mike Reno, Loverboy’s lead vocalist with his legendary normally red but tonight black bandana came out ready to Rock n Roll and show Houston that he and his bandmates were ready to give them a strong dose of terrific upbeat music.
The guys started off with Notorious, then Lucky Ones & Queen of the Broken Hearts. It was during those three songs I was allowed to photograph the band and I’ll tell you it’s hard to listen to music and concentrate of taking quality pictures at the same time. I’m not complaining just saying the time my head is behind a camera body is generally a blur.
You can go to the HMR Photo Gallery to see was I was able to capture on film!
They played seven more songs over the hour ending with Hot Girls in Love, Turn Me Loose and (of no surprise) Working for the Weekend.
It was a very entertaining show and fun to be able to see it, shoot it and still have Foreigner to follow.
Three of the original Loverboy members remain and this is after being together for over forty years (minus about a five-year hiatus in the early nineties). Paul Dean and Ken ‘Spider’ Sinnaeve are still around yet sadly Scott Smith also an original member died in a boating accident off the coast of San Francisco in late 2000.
And before starting to write about Foreigner one more comment about Reno. He just looks like he is delightful guy and really enjoys what he is doing on stage. The big smile on his face seemed to be there from beginning to end and time after time complimented the audience for being so active and supportive on this extremely hot and humid evening.
How humid was it? Mike pulled off his bandana at the end of their set and twisted it with his hand and perspiration followed in a steady stream for several moments. I was soaked just watching the show.
Foreigner hit the stage at nine sharp and knowing they had to bring their ‘A’ Game given the job that Loverboy had just done.
Absolutely no problem from this reviewer’s perspective and I would take on anyone who tried to argue with me.
These guys were clearly beyond ‘up to the task’. Foreigner has been around as a band nearly five decades playing great music and of course like many bands have seen personnel go, perhaps come back again, leave a second time, etc. etc. You know how it works. Age, health, personalities and travel get in the way of keeping those that start forty-seven years ago to be today decades later. Shit happens but my reaction is SO…these guys today are the real deal and if you read something that suggests otherwise you are reading the wrong publications.
It has to be very tough to be on the road week after week, then in the studio in between, then giving interviews, then this and that. Might sound glamorous to some but after a while I bet it becomes a real grind.
My point is that the Foreigner of today is not the Foreigner of nearly fifty years ago but this CURRENT EDITION kicked some rock N roll ass this night for the near sold-out eleven thousand plus crowd. They were amazing and so far beyond my expectations that I am almost embarrassed to think earlier today that they may not have hit the target tonight.
Before continuing let me share that Mick Jones, the only original member that still is with the band, was not available to perform this night due to a chronic heart condition but I’m sure he was there in spirit and although I would have liked to have photographed him there was no shortage of great music with this group of bandmates that were assembled this evening. As an aside I do hope Jones is able to say one day ‘I made it from beginning to end!
Evidently the end is near given the band is calling this the ‘Farewell’ Tour (I’ll come back to that in a minute).’
Those that chose live music this night and further, chose Foreigner over Stevie Nicks, the best I could tell loved every minute of the show, had no regrets at being in The Woodlands vs Downtown and frequently expressed that sentiment during the course of Foreigner’s set.
How could they not. They absolutely got the best of Foreigner and each song was delivered just like you would hope…. Live, no Memorex!
During the Acoustic portion of the show, that was so very special, lead singer Kelly Hanson made the comment, and I will need to paraphrase…we may not be perfect up here on stage tonight but we are real….no vocal tracks no AI, just us giving you our best.
Hanson was off the charts. His vocals were some of the very best I have heard in a very long time. His energy level was unmatched in the genre, certainly equal to Mick and Arnel and he sang every note from his lips to the mic…no ‘voice tracking’ for him or his bandmates. It was SO refreshing as I have witnessed a lot of it lately and I will not disclose WHO but you know who you are. Stop it or quit. The fans deserve more than listening to a record while you move your lips, kind of in sync with the sound coming through the sound system. It is just fundamentally wrong in this reviewer’s opinion.
(This is for the band and/or it’s management…I know you are calling this the Farewell Tour and I think this is a mistake unless you are going to be like Elton John and have a ten year ‘Farewell Tour’. Kelly has much too much left in the tank and you must give him a platform to continue to entertain audiences around the world for another decade or so. There are so many lesser acts still out there, stealing their fan’s money it is just WRONG to quit with him still having so much VOICE & ENERGY left! Just saying!)
Sorry for the rant.
I almost had to put down my camera during Foreigner’s first three songs so I could enjoy the music coming from the stage. The guys started with Double Vision, Head Games and Cold As Ice, good grief, three of my favorites! You talk about hitting the ground running, these guys were at a full sprint from the moment the lights came up on stage!
From there they did Waiting for a Girl Like You and Dirty White Boy (can we still say that today?) …no wonder their songs are some of the best ever recorded and listened to my millions over the past four plus decades.
After a brief acoustic set that was so entertaining as they all sat side by side on bar stools and the tempo obviously changed. During that section of the show Hanson introduced his bandmates in a loving sort of way and then was introduced by the bass player. It was declared by Jeff Pilson, who is suffering from an injury and sat the entire night while playing, that in his opinion Kelly had one of if not the very best voice in Rock n Roll today…and for the record, Pilson you are spot on.
When the bar stools were taken off the stage the guys kicked it back up with Feels Like the First Time, Urgent, Juke Box Hero and then in the encore I Want to Know What Love Is and Hot Blooded.
The music was so outstanding while I was watching my mind started drifting towards Cleveland, OH and I asked myself…’Is Foreigner in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?’ ‘They must be, surely, they have been inducted at some point during the last decade. We have bands in The Hall that I have never even heard of, certainly this band has to be there.’ Nope, and worse yet, they are not even on a list I found on the internet of the Top 100 Snubs by The Hall. Someone/s have lost their freakin’ mind/s. They need to close down The Hall until this group of guys along with the earlier Edition of Foreigner takes the podium. Put a sign at the door that says ‘We have lost our minds and when we find them, we will open back up’!
Sorry for (another) rant.
Before wrapping up I was also impressed and found it refreshing that they genuinely were humble and grateful of the fans that came this night to make the evening so special.
Please help keep live music alive and hope to see you down the road.