The sounds of classic rock wafted through KeyBank Pavilion just outside of Pittsburgh on Saturday evening. Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience were on tap to open for Foreigner who is celebrating their 40th Anniversary.
The founder of Foreigner, guitarist Mick Jones led the band through a litany of hits that ruled the radio from the late ‘70s through the mid ‘80s.
Although Jones was the only original member on stage, the other musicians including singer Kelly Hansen, bassist Jeff Pilson, saxophonist Thom Gimbel, drummer Chris Frazier, keyboardist Michael Bluestein, and guitarist Bruce Watson recreated the music perfectly.
Jones and company were firing on all cylinders as soon as they hit the stage. Starting with a blistering version of “Double Vision,” the band then segued into the Top 20 hit “Head Games.”
A keyboard was brought out and Jones played the familiar intro to “Cold As Ice” and he continued behind the keys as the band finally slowed things down by playing the #2 hit “Waiting For A Girl Like You.”
In a classy move, Hanson who is a great frontman in his own right, paid homage to original singer Lou Gramm by thanking him for writing such great songs that have stood the test of time.
Towards the end of the show, Jones got the chance to take center stage and sing “Starrider” from their multi-platinum self-titled debut album.
The set closed with an extended version of “Juke Box Hero”that saw Hanson go out into the crowd and go up on a riser high above the pavilion audience to belt out the song.
“I Want To Know What Love Is” was the first song of the encore which brought out a local high school choir to sing the chorus and give it a gospel feel.
The show ended with “Hot Blooded”making this 40th Anniversary show complete. Hopefully we will get to see a true Foreigner reunion in Cleveland next spring if this deserving band finally gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, 2015 Rock Hall inductees Cheap Trick were the second band on the bill and they are out supporting their latest release We’re All Alright.
These veteran rockers are true professionals and always put on a great show. True Cheap Trick fans were very happy as the band played many deep album cuts that you don’t normally get to hear. Songs like “He’s A Whore” and “High Roller” were welcome additions to the set.
A few hits like “On Top of the World” and “Stop This Game” were sprinkled into the first half of the show and their newest single “Long Time Coming’ fit in nicely.
Rick Neilson mentioned that it was his son Daxx’s birthday. He said “37 years ago I wasn’t there when he was born because I was recording with John Lennon.” But tonight he was playing with his son on stage as he is now the drummer for Cheap Trick. Now that’s pretty cool.
The second half of their 15 song set became basically a greatest hits collection that started off with Robin Zander strumming an acoustic guitar and singing “The Flame.” Then it was a three hit tidal wave as “I Want You To Want Me” the frenzied “Dream Police” and “Surrender” were played in succession. It was just like Mike Damon from Fast Times at Ridgemont High singing the montage of their hits, only it was the real thing.
The show closed with the appropriately titled “Good Night.”
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience opened the show with outstanding covers of Zeppelin material. After opening with “Rock and Roll” and “Black Dog,” Bonham welcomed the crowd by saying “Good Evening, or should I say good afternoon? We’re on pretty early!” He then quipped, “I guess it’s never too early to get the Led out!”
Even though they are basically a cover band, they do the music justice and are all great musicians. Bonham even noted that he “never got the chance to tell my dad thank you, thank you for the music.” This was his way of “keeping the music alive.”
Great versions of “Ramble On,” “Kashmir” and “Whole Lotta Love” kept the audience singing and dancing along. It was a great way to open the show for an evening of classic rock.