Foreigner - LIVE: Hammersmith Apollo, London 2014

World Tour
April 13 (21:15 - 22:55)
Capacity 3600

From time to time a tour package comes around that is a dream for fans of the genre it represents, and the teaming of Foreigner with Sweden's Europe and England's FM, both revived in the last ten years after a long period of hiatus, is one such bill.

Several shows on the trek, including this one, sold out and the house was close to full when FM took to the stage, which is rare for an opening act. Tonight was also not a night for imaginative setlists or experiments - people were here for hits, and hits alone. FM didn't have time for anything other than that anyway, afforded just 30 minutes, while Europe played a 60-minute version of their current standard set, and Foreigner played the same set they've been doing for more or the less the last four years. And that was just fine with all concerned.

Europe, afforded a full hour, delivered their usual high energy, heavy performance making sure to touch upon both their latest material and pre-hiatus songs from the late '80s and early '90s, making just one mistake. Scream of Anger was needlessly added into the main set, which they hadn't been playing on previous nights, and that, coupled with taking far too long to come out for their encore, led to the brilliant Last Look At Eden being dropped, and The Final Countdown being oddly shortened as they struggled to keep up with the ominous red digital countdown clock at the side of the stage. Up until the encore they'd been superb, with even Carrie and Cherokee, far from their best output, sounding great. But an encore which took too long to happen, missing one of their best songs, and shortening their biggest hit, meant the set went out with a bit of a whimper.

Foreigner had no such worries, not least because their red stage-side clock was counting up, instead of down. Playing their standard 100-minute set they began in what has become their customary way, without band-leader, guitarist, and last remaining founding member Mick Jones, in order to give him a big introduction and entrance some way into the set. It's not really necessary for that period to be four full songs though. The same impact could be achieved after two songs, but as it is, Jones got his introduction after Waiting For A Girl Like You, taking them into Feels Like The First Time.

Having taken so long to bring him on, his entrance wasn't as big a moment as it could have been, allowing Thom Gimbel's brilliant saxophone histrionics in Urgent, and a simply superb Starrider to steal the show, which was just as well, as they softened the tedium of Chris Frazier's over-long drum solo which followed.

A non-stop sing-along finale of first Juke Box Hero to close the main set, then an encore of a slightly disappointing Long, Long Way From Home, but a big I Want To Know What Love Is and Hot Blooded closed out a thoroughly enjoyable set, and night as a whole. Front-man Kelly Hansen is often the focal point of the band on stage, and his charisma combined with his acute awareness and modest understanding of his place in the history the band, make him a joy to watch and listen to.

Foreigner readily embrace that cliché image of an old rock band - greatest hits sing-alongs at every opportunity - and are one of the best around at it.

“ hits, and hits alone ”

Europe setlist: Riches To Rags / Firebox / Superstitious / Let The Good Times Rock / No Stone Unturned / Carrie / Scream of Anger / Sign of The Times / Cherokee / Rock The Night // The Final Countdown

Foreigner setlist: Double Vision / Head Games / Cold As Ice / Waiting For A Girl Like You / Feels Like The First Time / That Was Yesterday / Dirty White Boy / Starrider / Urgent / Keyboard Solo / Drum Solo / Juke Box Hero // Long, Long Way From Home / I Want To Know What Love Is / Hot Blooded

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2014, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock, ,

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