Foreigner, Rialto Theatre, Saturday, April 30

When I met up with my dad in the Rialto balcony at the packed Foreigner show, he had just come from a meet-and-greet with the band. He told founding guitarist Mick Jones that his two kids were raised on the music of Foreigner, to which Mick replied, "Wow, that's great to hear. Thank you."

It's true. I was singing along with "Juke Box Hero" at the age of 5, while my dad mowed the lawn in a Lou Gramm (the band's original singer) T-shirt. I took my mom to see Foreigner perform when I was in high school as a Mother's Day gift. The nostalgia wrapped up in those ubiquitous pop-rock hits is undeniable.

I was skeptical about how they would sound with only one original remaining member, but the naysaying part of me was silenced once the music started. Opening with "Double Vision," charismatic vocalist Kelly Hansen showed off his incredible singing chops, which are almost identical to Gramm's. He had all the rock-star moves—the high-fives with the audience, the fist pumps, the shouts of, "C'mon Tucson, clap your hands!"—and the crowd full of baby boomers responded enthusiastically.

The set included all the hits, including "Head Games," "Cold as Ice," "Hot Blooded" and power-ballad "Waiting for a Girl Like You." Mick Jones played many blazing guitar solos throughout; at 66, he is still the head counselor at Camp Badass. Keyboardist Michael Bluestein and bassist Jeff Pilson were all smiles, appearing to have as much fun as the people they were there to entertain. A high point was when guitarist Thom Gimbel picked up his saxophone and blew everyone's minds with a solo on the track "Urgent." Drummer Mark Schulman, who was with Foreigner in the mid-'90s and early-'00s, was back in the lineup for this show.

Mega-hit "I Wanna Know What Love Is" was performed with a choir consisting of students from Tucson Magnet High School. In a benevolent gesture, an autographed guitar was raffled off after the show to help raise money for the arts programs at their school.

Fittingly, the encore was an extended version of "Juke Box Hero." I glimpsed at my dad singing along; 30 years later, the song is still pretty darned powerful.

More by Mel Mason


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