Energetic band gets enthusiastic audience on its feet at Santa Barbara Bowl
Fans didn’t want it to end.
“One more song!” audience members yelled after Foreigner performed its encores Saturday night at the Santa Barbara Bowl. But after having played energetically for a couple hours, the band left the stage, and the lights came up above the smiling faces of an enthusiastic audience who stood and danced at their seats during a concert full of hard rock fever.
The concert began with the ethereal “Double Vision” and ended with perennial favorites “I Want to Know What Love Is,” complete with fans standing and waving the lights on their smartphones, and “Hot Blooded,” still a powerful rock anthem 53 years after it was written.
Kelly Hansen, who succeeded original lead vocalist Lou Gramm in 2005, captured the intensity of Mr. Gramm’s voice. And guitarists Bruce Watson and Luis Maldonado joined the only remaining original member, guitarist and co-founder Mick Jones, in recreating the legendary sound that defined Foreigner from its start in 1976.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Gramm co-wrote Foreigner’s hits, and as the audience saw Saturday night, the lyrics, melodies and again, the unstoppable power of the guitars (a Foreigner trademark), have stood the test of time.
The band sang everything from “Blue Morning Blue Day” to “Feels Like the First Time” and its powerful ballad, “Waiting For A Girl Like You.”
Foreigner poured power into one of its best hits, “Cold as Ice.”
Everyone on stage and in the audience had fun, and Mr. Hansen, who served as emcee in his role as lead singer, set the tone from the start.
“Santa Barbara is beautiful,” he told the crowd, looking around the bowl. “I want to buy that house!”
Mr. Hansen joked between songs and later gave a heartwarming speech that led into “I Want to Know What Love Is,” during which Mr. Jones played the keyboard.
Foreigner didn’t bring an orchestra as originally planned, but that was OK. The concert was fine without that layer, and Mr. Hansen, the guitarists and bass player Jeff Pilson had freedom to roam around the large stage and interact with each other. A highlight was Mr. Jones jamming with Mr. Watson and Mr. Maldonado.
Although he did some backing vocals, Mr. Jones focused on his guitar playing, sometimes closing his eyes and smiling as he felt the music.
He didn’t speak to the audience, but left the songs he co-wrote with Mr. Gramm do the talking.
During his enthusiastic round of introducing the band, Mr. Hansen graciously made a point of stressing Mr. Jones’ importance in the world of rock ‘n’ roll.
The night was a tribute to Foreigner’s timeless music, but there was also a sense of lighthearted fun. When most of the band members took a short break halfway through the concert, the music kept going, with solos by keyboardist Michael Bluestein and drummer Chris Frazier.
The audience clapped along with Mr. Frazier, who ended his solo with a big smile.
Later, in-between songs, bandmates threw drum sticks to each other.
The youthful energy of the longtime band prevailed from start to finish. No wonder Foreigner remains a powerful force in rock ’n’ roll.