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Monday, Jan. 16, 2017

Classic Rock Renaissance

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Foreigner’s 40 years to be celebrated at Riverdome

Foreigner is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2017 and will be performing at the Riverdome on Jan. 28.

A summer tour will feature Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience. Bonham used to play in Foreigner.

2016 proved to be the most successful since founder Mick Jones re-formed the band in 2004 by adding vocalist Kelly Hansen. Hansen, in a telephone interview, said the weight of the success of the band and its number of hits made him strive to give the songs justice. “I stayed true to myself. I am my harshest critic,” he said.

He said original members may pop up on the anniversary tour. “The great vibe backstage translates to the front,” Hansen said. He added that Foreigner will be filming and recording in Switzerland. He said some of the band members were Americans and some English, thus the name, that someone would always be a foreigner wherever they played.

Hansen is a product of a public school choir, and he said being exposed to all kinds of music when in a small town makes students more well-rounded. The Highland Community Choir will be performing here with “I Want To Know What Love Is,” and Foreigner will donate $500 to them for appearing. They will sell Foreigner CDs at the concert to raise money for Foreigner’s charity partner, The Grammy Foundation, to keep music education available to students.

Hansen said that Foreigner’s longevity is due to the quality of the songs. “Great songs stand the test of time.” He sees a new generation coming to the concerts with 8-year-olds singing the lyrics.

Foreigner ended the year on a high note with the band’s biggest ever oneweek digital single sales. YouTube views of Foreigner’s hits have passed the 250 million mark. Foreigner songs continue to be featured in some of the biggest movies, TV shows and commercials, Hansen said.

Hansen said it is a challenge to “morph, modify and move” with social media. “The goalposts are always moving, and we re-evaluate different challenges.”

The band’s latest CD is a three-disc set entitled “Feels Like the First Time,” featuring two CDs (one contains acoustic versions of the hits, and the other, newly recorded studio versions of the hits), and a DVD.

No other heritage band makes more NASCAR appearances than Foreigner. “I like to go fast,” Hansen said. The band sang the National Anthem at many NASCAR events, and he eventually rode in a pace car without earphones, which he called equivalent to the energy of a live stage.

Hansen was the champion of the “Chopped Rock Stars” episode on the Food Network, but doesn’t get to cook on the touring bus because it only has a microwave.

When asked, “Hot Blooded” or “Cold as Ice,” he answered “Hot Blooded.” “I like spicy,” he said.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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