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Jason Bonham (Foreigner) Concert Feb 23rd 2008


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Retooled Foreigner finds niche in smaller venues

Judith Salkin • Desert Post Weekly • February 21, 2008

There are bands in the annals of rock history that everyone can relate to.

Foreigner definitely fits that bill.The group was formed in the mid-'70s by guitarist Mick Jones, one of rock's hired guns who worked previously with the likes of George Harrison and Peter Frampton.

Jones - along with original members Ian McDonald, Dennis Elliott, Al Greenwood, Ed Gagliardi and frontman Lou Gramm - hit the charts with their 1977 self-titled debut, "Foreigner." The disc produced classics like "Feels Like the First Time," "Cold As Ice" and "Long, Long Way From Home" - rock anthems ideally-suited for the sold-out arenas they filled.

Powerful chemistry

Today, Foreigner's lineup has changed and the venues are smaller, but as Jones said during a break from writing in Los Angeles, "The fans still seem to like us."

On Saturday, Foreigner returns to the valley, performing at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.

"The last time we were there, we played the McCallum," Jones recalls. "That's a lovely little theater; we had a great time."

Jones also enjoys playing in more intimate settings, as opposed to the packed arenas of the band's heyday.

"The audience is much closer," Jones said, "you feel closer to them, not just physically."

Though Jones remains the only original member of Foreigner, the band boasts a solid blend of musicians that includes drummer Jason Bonham, son of late-Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham.

Rounding out the lineup are singer Kelly Hansen, Tom Gimbel (rhythm guitar, sax and background vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass) and Michael Bluestein (keyboards).

"We have a chemistry together that's really powerful," Jones says. "People in the audience see us on stage having fun and that it's all natural, pretty soon we're all having a good time."

Jones and Foreigner are having such a good time that they're back in the studio working on new material, looking to a summer release," he said.

Once the new album is finished, Foreigner will hit the road for a five-week tour with Bryan Adams. "Back in the '80s, Bryan opened for us when he was just breaking," Jones said.

"We've very compatible, and now it feels like we've come full circle."

Arena rock

What: Foreigner in concert

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fantasy Springs Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Drive, Indio

Cost: $39-$69

Information: 342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com

"Foreigner," 1977

"Double Vision," 1978

"Head Games," 1979

"4," 1981

"Agent Provocateur," 1984

"Inside Information," 1987

"Unusual Heat," 1991

"Mr. Moonlight," 1995

"The Very Best... And Beyond," 1992 (Compilation)

"Jukebox Heroes: The Foreigner Anthology," 2000 (Compilation)

"The Essentials," 2005 (Compilation)

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Great head's up. Looks like the Foreigner boys are certainly capitalizing on the Jason Bonham/Zep reunion fervor. I mean...$40-70 for tickets??? You can usually catch them for $15-20 tops on the ribfest/county fair circuit most summers.

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