Foreigner Of Old And New On Display At Mohegan Sun

Patrick Gustavson, Sports Editor

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On the last date of their 2018 tour, legendary rock band Foreigner brought both its current lineup as well as original members to Mohegan Sun to showcase 40 years worth of hits.

It was a ticketed event advertising the original lineup playing together for just the sixth time since 1981, with all shows taking place in the last two years.

Founder and lead guitarist Mick Jones was joined by singer Lou Gramm, keyboardist Al Greenwood, bassist Rick Wills, drummer Dennis Elliott and multi-instrumentalist Ian MacDonald.

The original lineup played early hits such as “Feels Like the First Time,” “Double Vision” and “Long, Long Way From Home.” Musically, the performance was spot on, as all members still possess their respective talents. Though Gramm’s vocals are not what they used to be, that is expected of an aging rock singer, especially with what he has been through.

Gramm has been through the wringer in his career, struggling with drug addiction as well as a brain tumor that almost took his life. It was great to see him healthy and performing once again, and he sounded better than he has in years.

But the lineup, unfortunately, lacked stage presence. Wills was the only one who appeared to be having fun, dancing and hamming it up, while acting as the primary backing vocalist. Elliott was also enjoyable to watch, with his emphatic and aggressive style driving the songs.

Jones, MacDonald and Greenwood looked incredibly lifeless, despite Jones still touring with the current lineup.

Despite these shortcomings, it was a surreal experience for the many lifelong fans in the audience to witness a rare reunion that seemed impossible just a few years ago.

As for the current lineup, they brought the house down. The elephant in the room is that they are technically not Foreigner, without a single original member on stage. But it makes no difference as the band is filled with phenomenal musicians who execute the songs to perfection, maintaining integrity.

Lead singer Kelly Hansen, who has been with the group since 2005, is a spitting-image of Gramm vocally, and since he is 11 years younger than Gramm, his voice remains fully intact, hitting the high notes with ease. He also has remarkable stage-presence and charisma, constantly moving around the stage while keeping the audience engaged, leaping into the crowd during “Cold As Ice.”

But Hansen is supported by a band of top-notch musicians who note-for-note replicate the hits. But what makes them truly outstanding is their backing vocals. With four other singers, it gives the songs so much depth and beauty, something that was unable to be replicated by the original lineup.

So, what is next for the group? It’s fair to speculate that Jones, the last remaining original member, will soon retire. At age 73, Jones does not play full shows with the group and sometimes does not appear at all. His stoic stage presence may also be a sign that he is slowing down, in addition to heart problems that led to a leave of absence in 2013.

Should Jones retire, no original members would remain. Would this end the band’s career? Likely not. It is clear Jones has no problem trotting out the new lineup that could be viewed as a tribute.

But even if that’s what it is, they pay homage to the band night after night, showing appreciation for its legacy, and more importantly, keeping its music alive. Fans tend to complain that there are no original members, but should be thankful that these musicians, with the original members’ blessing, continue to bring us the music we love.

This concert showed that Foreigner’s legacy and music are in good hands for years to come.