Botanic Gardens, Adelaide SA
October 14th, 2018
Supports: Cheap Trick, Sheppard and Neon Tetra
There are shows and then there is THIS show !!
Upon arriving in Adelaide I was greeted by rain and a thunderstorm; just great, and not exactly what you want when you are about to shoot and review two of your all-time favourite bands on the one bill. But what the hell, I love a challenge. Set in the incredibly beautiful Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, I wandered through the spectacular ground and found my way to the stage carefully noting where I could have the best vantage point and stay dry as possible.
First up were Neon Tetra the local guys who are sure to make a name for themselves once the word gets out about them. Neon Tetra have something quite unique about them their mix of soulful, hybrid disco-pop tunes. Since gaining exposure through JJJ Unearthed these guys have gone from strength to strength and are gaining some pretty serious traction. Their set had a really nice flow to it and the band were incredibly tight. Although unfamiliar with their work prior to this set, they are certainly a band I’m sure we will hear more from over the next 12 month.
Brisbane’s Sheppard took to the stage next and their energetic blend of overproduced pop laden with sugary sweet catchy choruses. While they delivered a high energy set it was apparent that they were not 100% live as the use of pre-recorded backing vocals was quite obvious. Otherwise their set was entertaining and the musicianship was amazing. They opened their set with the breakthrough single ‘Bombs Away’ which had the growing crowd singing along from the word go. All the singles were there and they even included a version of Moving Pictures “What About Me?” Why I don’t know, seriously it’s been done before, but I guess it is this decade’s turn to have it thrust down our throats again. Sheppard looked quite at home on the big stage and worked it well with Vocalist/Keyboard player George Sheppard threatening to come out into the crowd if it rained. The weather remained overcast and humid for their set so it was not to be. Closing with their best known tune “Geronimo” they had the crowd at full voice. Good show and certainly had appealed to the sub 40’s in attendance.
The moment grew closer to the might Cheap Trick taking the stage as the heavens opened up and the rain had finally arrived. But this did not dampen the spirits of what was now a sea of rain ponchos. Opening with ‘Hello There‘ they blistered their way through an incredible 75 minute set that spanned their entire career including some deep cuts and all of the obvious hit. Rick Nielsen threw pick after pick with pinpoint accuracy to those in the first 10 rows. Despite what appeared to be a slight technical issue with his monitors he wandered the stage and commanded the crowd’s attention. The energy was high and the band were full of smiles. Robin Zander was in particularly amazing form and sounded as good if not better than I have heard him live. For a guy that is 65 years old Robin certainly sets the bar incredibly high for any of his contemporaries as a powerhouse vocalist and great frontman. Daxx Nielsen (Rick’s son) was incredibly tight and adds so much to the classic Cheap Trick sound, Daxx captures the essence of original drummer Bun E Carlos perfectly while adding his own style, Daxx makes playing these classic and iconic songs look so effortless, while adding backing vocals to the dynamic of the band.
Tom Petersson let his cool and charming personality shine through, smiling as he tore through the set. Not only were we treated to a Bass solo by Tom, he took lead vocal duties on for ‘Waiting for The Man’ a Velvet Underground cover which unfortunately lost some of the crowd as it was a really left of centre addition to the set in what was a greatest hits set. The fans wanted to hear the hits and I personally wanted to hear songs like ‘Voices’, ‘Can’t Stop Falling In Love’, ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, ‘Ghost Town’ or any of the many, many hits that span their career. While Tom delivered the song really well, for me it was the low point of what I would consider a near perfect set.
The addition of Robin Zander’s son Robin Taylor Zander to the band on backing vocals, rhythm guitar and keyboards was one that I really welcomed. While his presence on stage was quite low key he certainly played a really valuable part to the whole sound and obviously freed Robin Zander from additional guitar duties (bar ‘The Flame’) so that he could give us all a master class in the delivery of these songs. At only 25 years of age, Robin Taylor Zander will be one to look out for as he is an amazing songwriter and performer in his own right.
Rick Neilsen, what can I say about the master? Rick was his usual goofball self, hamming it up for the crowd, throwing picks, changing guitars and jackets almost every song. While Rick is not the tightest of guitar players live, he certainly is one of the most captivating and fun players I have ever seen. It’s crazy to think that at 69 years of age Rick can continue to show the youthful enthusiasm he did in 1977. The jumps may not be as high as they once were, but god I hope I am as active as he is at his age.
The crowd were invited to sing with the band on so many of the classics which they did in force (if like me they weren’t already singing along).
During ‘Dream Police’ Rick Nielsen showered the first few rows with handful after handful of guitar picks. Surrender also saw the now ritualistic Frisbee-ing of an album cover with picks taped to it into the crowd. Someone was extremely lucky in catching this incredible souvenir.
In all honesty, 75mins was NOT long enough for these guys. As a fan, I could have heard them play for hours.
Cheap Trick Set List
You Got It Going On
If You Want My Love
Aint That A Shame
The Summer Looks Good On You
Waiting For The Man
I Want You To Want Me
Never Had A Lot To Lose
As dusk began to set in Kelly Hansen; Foreigner vocalist took to the stage to announce what tonight was all about and how different this show would be with the addition of the Orchestra. As the stage lights dimmed the Orchestra launched into ‘Overture’, building an atmosphere unlike anything we had heard today and confused a few fans behind me as they were unsure of what was to come next. One asking for Cheap Trick to be brought back on.
The powerful opening riff of ‘Blue Morning, Blue Day’ just whipped the crowd into a frenzy and set the tone perfectly for what was to come. If anyone had any doubts as to how an Orchestra would work with these songs, their minds were quickly put at ease. From this point on we were treated to hit after hit after hit. ‘Cold as Ice’ was huge and powerful. The band were on fire visually and from a musical standpoint awe-inspiring. Every member of the band looked so happy to be there smiling, waving and pointing to the crowd. Their mere presence on stage was a photographer’s delight, lots of shapes and poses for the cameras in the pit.
During ‘Waiting for a Girl like You’, Kelly Hansen leaped from the stage and invited the audience to sing along, high fiving the front row from behind the barrier. If he didn’t have your attention by now, he certainly demanded it from this point on. A powerful version of ‘That Was Yesterday’ was up next and again highlighted the power the orchestra added to tonight. Guitarist and backing vocalist Bruce Watson couldn’t contain his smile as he delivered his parts perfectly and adds so much to the power of Foreigners live sound.
Keyboard player/backing vocalist Michael Bluestein although hidden further up the back was all smiles as he played and sang his way through the night, such a talent. Mick Jones was on point and showed exactly why he is a songwriting force to be reckoned with, switching from keyboards to guitar, Mick delivered as only he could; perfectly. I for one was blown away as he played the whole set (which he doesn’t do every show) this was a real treat for me.
The next section of the show was stripped back to a couple of songs done acoustically ‘Say You Will’ was perfect and lead the first of many full voice singalongs from the crowd. This was one of the many highlights for me in the set.
Things then went into overdrive again as the band took the night out with a slew of their greatest hits which included two of my favourite Foreigner songs EVER ‘Feels Like The First Time’ and ‘Urgent’. Between these two songs, they treated us to ‘Fool for You Anyway’ and ‘Dirty White Boy’ with a horn section. In this environment, it was amazing and added so much to these two classic songs. ‘Urgent’ put a spotlight on Guitarist/Saxophonist/Backing Vocalist Thom Gimble as he delivered a powerful and extended performance of this classic saxophone solo. Thom’s presence prior to this was laid back and defined cool.
Jeff Pilson led us into the final song of the set with the pounding opening bass line of ‘Juke Box Hero’ which just shook you. The band’s performance just kicked ass and the power of this song was undisputable and never fails to stir something inside of me as it is such a great piece of storytelling and songwriting. As a performer, Jeff never stands still and is just a joy to watch and hear sing. Jeff Pilson is an amazing addition to Foreigner and a much as I love his back catalogue of work (Dokken/Dio/T&N) this is safely where he belongs.
We all knew the show wasn’t over as there was one song missing from the set tonight, and that was ‘I want to know what love is’. Performed with the assistance of a vocal choir it brought on goosebumps; it was delivered with so much power and beauty. Hard to explain this feeling in words; if you unless you were there, you would understand. It, of course, lead into the night’s biggest and loudest sing-a-long. Closing out the night was ‘Hot Blooded’ which was just a stream rolling good time. Before we knew it; it was done, the show was over and what a way to leave us all wanting more.
Although Mick Jones is the only original member of the band, the new Foreigner line up is simply incredible. It is hard to fathom that Jeff Pilson (Bass/Vocals/Musical Director) and Kelly Hansen are now 15-year veterans of the band, with the rest of the members being in place for the better part of a decade. The final piece to what seemed to be an ever-changing position of drummer during this 15 year period has been filled by legendary powerhouse drummer Chris Frazier who has now been behind the kit for 5 years. Foreigner have NEVER sounded tighter, more powerful or alive.
Some still say it’s not Foreigner without Lou Gramm out front, but for me, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The band fires on all cylinders and the decision to forge ahead has been one of my favourite decisions made by a rock band. What gives the reborn Foreigner credibility is the fact that they have recorded new music (2009’s Cant Slow Down was simply amazing) solidifies this band as more than a nostalgia act.
40 years on Foreigner are a stronger force than ever and it is great to see that with or without Mick Jones, his legacy and songwriting perfection will live on and be done every inch of justice it deserves for generations to come.
This day will go down as one of my favourite live experiences ever. So it may have rained and I got somewhat drenched, but I wouldn’t have it another way. Both Cheap Trick and Foreigner were outstanding and awe-inspiring. The crushing reality is that no one is getting any younger, and who knows how much longer we will have to see these bands at their performing peak. 40 years is a long time of memories and moments that have influenced this guy, let alone others all around the world.
So grateful to have witnessed this and please even if you only know one song from each band; get along to these shows, take your kids, invite others and share the pure joy and influence that these iconic bands have left on so many. A huge thank to all that allowed this to happen for me, especially Live In The Park, Chugg Entertainment and the one and only Browny !!!
Overture (Orchestral Intro)
Blue Morning, Blue Day
Cold As Ice
Waiting For A Girl Like You
That Was Yesterday
Say You Will (Acoustic)
The Flame Still Burns (Acoustic)
Feels Like The First Time
Fool For You Anyway (With Horn Section)
Dirty White Boy (With Horn Section)
Juke Box Hero
I Want To Know What Love Is
Foreigner – Australian Tour 2018
Oct 18th @ Sydney Opera House, SYD
Oct 20th @ Gold Coast 600, GC
Oct 25th – 26th @ Rock The Boat, SYD
Oct 29th & 30th @ Hammer Hall, MLB