One Foreigner fan, rejoicing at the opening strains of “Cold as Ice,” turned to her partner and exclaimed “This is a classic!” “This is Foreigner,” he corrected. “They’re all classics!” Such was the attitude at Station Casino, where the dirty white boys (and girls) in attendance eagerly devoured every selection from their heroes’ jukebox. Years of touring have severely constricted singer Lou Gramm’s vocal range (he couldn’t hit his high notes with the aid of an Olympic archer), resulting in songs that stroll where they once swaggered, but the band still kinda rocks as much as it ever did. Live, the riffs that fuel “Double Vision” and “Hot Blooded,” shake off their classic rock mothballs and seem strong, vital, even, well, “Urgent.”
In an attempt to compensate for his inability to erect his voice to the upper echelons, Gramm did a lot of emoting, adding a groan here and a quivering drawn-out syllable there, and such embellishment often caused him to lag behind his still-potent band. Even with Gramm a beat behind during the verses, the songs charged forward into their anthemic choruses, and the singer was able to make up ground during the guitar, sax, and even flute (remember, Foreigner’s original lineup included a former King Crimson member) solos.
When not dutifully supplying rhythm riffs, singer/guitarist Mick Jones took turns on the keyboard, tapping out the melodies to tunes such as “Waiting for A Girl Like You” and “Cold as Ice.” Drummer Mark Schulman, keyboardist Jeff Jacobs, and bassist Bruce Turgon, all of which have served six years with team Foreigner, each did their part to make the group’s performances of its hits feel like the first time.
“In the old days, we had a full-on gospel choir,” Jones reminisced about previous performances of “I Want to Know What Love Is.” “Nowadays, it’s just us boys. You be the choir. You be the angels.” Thus instructed, the sell-out crowd chanted along with the ballad. Gramm described the off-key crooning as “beautiful,” proving he’s perhaps even more forgiving than the fans who spot him a few octaves. On a night of “nothing but classics,” this was a classic moment — unconditional love between an aging star and his loyal following.