Search This Blog

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Foreigner + Special Guest Gary Hoey live review

Foreigner + Special Guest Gary Hoey live review

 Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, Sterling Heights, MI - Thursday 3rd July, 2013


Foreigner live on stage at Sterling Heights, Freedom Hill Amphitheatre.
Photo: Alun Williams

Every year when Foreigner has come to the Detroit area, I have always tried to catch the show, although last year we missed an appearance here, due to sole original member Mick Jones, undergoing some medical treatment that had followed his heart bypass surgery in February 2012.

Sadly we had also missed the previous year’s performance, with Journey and Night Ranger when my mother was taken ill and Rhonda and I had to make an unscheduled trip back to the UK to be at her bedside.
In fact, on that tour which was the precursor to Mick’s surgery, he missed a lot of shows and Night Ranger’s Joel Hoekstra actually stepped in for Mick on many dates.
So another year on, what does this tour bring us?

Well, tonight’s show has the extremely talented – So I understood before the gig, but had never seen for myself until tonight … – Gary Hoey and his band opening for Foreigner.
He opens with an old classic blues rocker, ‘Goin’ Down,’ which gets my attention right away, nicely done!

Gary Hoey live at Freedom Hill, Sterling Heights - Photo: Alun Williams 

Then I’m stunned as he starts jamming ‘Lunatic Fringe,’ yes the old Red Rider / Tom Cochrane track, it misses keys but the fact that he goes out and gives it a go has my respect!

Then it’s to some of his originals in the shape of new tune and title track of his forthcoming album, ‘Deja Blues,’ which is a laid back style instrumental followed by another original in ‘Peace Pipe.’
For a three piece outfit, they make a great combined sound I must say.
He tells a story about losing his wallet that contained a sum total of sixteen dollars and how he couldn’t believe he’d done it, with his driver’s license and credit card in, but then someone return returned it and he gave them the sixteen bucks as a reward and his story about bad luck leads into his version of ‘Born Under a Bad Sign.’
I loved Pat Travers version of this tune and Gary’s is certainly enjoyable too.

More originals come in the shape of ‘Reaction,’ ‘Stranger’ and ‘You Turn Me On,’ the latter track starting out not unlike AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck!’
Some really nice lead work from the guy continues to impress.

With another cover in the form of ‘Lowrider,’ Gary Hoey introduces his band, with Brad Russell a Detroit native on bass and Matt Scurfield on drums.


The Gary Hoey Band live in Detroit, well, Sterling Heights actually!
Photo: Alun Williams

Wow! He’s certainly working the covers angle with the crowd, with ‘Hocus Pocus,’ by Focus next and to wrap things up, we get a little tribute to the troops ahead of the 4th July with the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ done (Jimi) Hendrix style closely followed by Hendrix classic ‘Foxy Lady,’ to close rather good set by Gary Hoey and band.

So to Foreigner ...

I’ve really missed seeing Foreigner live even if there is only one original member left in Mick Jones and when he doesn’t come out on stage at the start, I’m thinking this isn’t good, what now?

Bruce Watson – From UK rockers Big Country - enters the stage instead and immediately as confused as I am, I get a text from a friend here tonight saying, ‘No Mick Jones? Did you know? The guy behind me said he’s had a heart attack?!’

I fear the worst and wondering how the hell the rest of the band could continue if this is the case, I text back saying I have no idea. I look online, for news through my phone, I contact my wife at home who couldn’t make it tonight and we find nothing …
Now the night seemed soured with the not knowing ….
 Sure ‘Double Vision’ sounded good, but where’s Mick and is he alright?

Bruce Watson onstage in place of Mick Jones ... - Photo: Alun Williams

‘Head Games’ follows and I can’t knock the band, but my mind is kind of elsewhere at this point … I wish I knew what was going on ...?!
Kelly Hansen jokes about swallowing two bugs already tonight, sorry Kelly, but what is going on, that’s what I’m thinking about right now.


Kelly Hansen, Detroit bug eater! - Photo: Alun Williams

‘Cold As Ice’ next is a great jam, with some fantastic keyboard work from Michael Bluestein.
They then slow things down with Kelly saying ‘grab someone’s hand or hold someone, as we’re slowing thing down here for ya.’ Cue ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You.’

I get a text from my wife saying she still can’t find anything current about Mick Jones ...

Kelly rips on the crowd for ‘sitting on your asses …’
You have just played a ballad dude, come on?!

‘Blue Morning, Blue Day,’ next certainly gets most people on their feet and Kelly is taking advantage of everyone in the front row reaching out to him to touch their hand …
Again, the band is faultless in their presentation, it still seems wrong without Mick, but that’s me …

Kelly Hansen uses pretty much the same line he uses all the time next when he messes with the crowd talking about, ‘Are there any crazy, sexy women in the crowd tonight?’ Huge screams of response and he replies with, ‘Well that’s good ‘cos we’ve got some ‘Dirty White Boys’ up on stage here!’ Cue song …. It does indeed rock!

Then Kelly – Clearly interacting pretty well with the crowd. – says ‘the next song is one that was originally all electric, but our man Mr. Jeff Pilson here took it and rearranged it like this!’Bring on an all-acoustic version of ‘Say You Will.’

Acoustic time above, with Foreigner playing 'Say You Will.' - Photo's: Alun Williams
It’s time for introductions next as Kelly introduces Chris Frazier (Ex-Whitesnake) on drums, on keyboards Michael Bluestein, ‘on bass guitar and yes, he was in the movie ‘Rock Star’ alongside Mark Wahlberg, and yes he was in Dokken as an original member and he was in Dio .. Mr. Jeff Pilson!’

‘Next up the man who can play every instrument, with his hands or lips and has been a part of Foreigner for the past twenty years, give it up for Tom Gimbel!’
 Then Bruce Watson is introduced and I’m wondering if Kelly will at least have the decency to acknowledge Mick Jones, which of course he indeed does ...

‘… Finally, would you please give it up for the man who’s not been well lately and is only able to play part-time for Foreigner right now, but he’s the man who started it all, so please give it up for MICK JONES!!!!’
Massive response! Huge!

Mick Jones, the original Foreigner! Welcome back to Detroit!
Photo: Alun Williams

This jumps into ‘Feels Like The First Time’ next and sorry, but it’s sounding and feeling way better for me already!

Next Kelly, Tom, Jeff and Bruce all leave the stage leaving just Mick, Chris (Drums) and Mike (Keys) to provide the lead in to what becomes ‘Urgent.’Back comes the band with Tom Gimbel playing some very impressive saxophone and Mick remains with us – a good thing! – and a keyboard solo from Michael Bluestein, which is pretty impressive.

Mick Jones and Bruce Watson (Top) and Tom Gimbel and Mick (Bottom) making it 'Urgent!'
Photo's: Alun Williams

It’s drum solo time next from Chris Frazier and he stops for a drink which he proceeds in pouring it out on his drums and then lets rip by hitting the skins significantly, which splashes up very effectively in the white spotlights around the drums. Sweet!

Chris Frazier gets a solo spot! - Photo: Alun Williams

Back comes the full band for ‘Juke Box Hero,’ with Mick cranking some seriously heavy guitar riffs indeed!
It’s a track that has always rocked out and it does so, very well indeed especially Mick’s riffs / solo at the end of the song. Excellent and tis closes the set.

The band comes out once more and Mick steps up to the microphone to add some very moving comments.
‘Thank you! It’s great to be back in Detroit! I was thinking I would never get to play here again, you’re great, thank you all!’You have no idea Mick, how many people you probably moved right there!

Mick Jones and Kelly Hansen, the Foreigner frontmen. - Photo: Alun Williams

Long, Long way from Home’ kicks in next, one of the first songs to break through for the band and yes, it’s indeed still every inch a winner!

Kelly invites everyone in the crowd to come on down to the front of the stage to join them ‘to sing along with this next song,’ then the band bring out a local choir from Livonia, on the west side of Detroit to sing, ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ and I have to say, it is monster!!!


Foreigner with a local kids choir from Livonia. Detroit folks, see someone you know?
 Photo: Alun Williams

They close the evening with the stage drenched in red lights for ‘Hot Blooded!’
Kelly is slapping hand after hand at the front of the stage and for this number; Jeff Pilson has taken over Mike Bluestein’s keys while Mike takes over the role of bass player on the final song of the night.


What a great finale to a night that started with many folks very concerned as to the whereabouts of Mick Jones, but who were then very pleased indeed to see the man come out onstage even if it was towards the end of the set.

I know Mick is no spring chicken, but I hope we see him around again next year, praying for it Mick!
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Very entertaining night!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Judas Priest – ‘Epitaph’ live DVD review

Judas Priest – ‘Epitaph’ live DVD review

Released through: Legacy / Sony. Release date: Available now.


So when Judas Priest wrapped up their lengthy ‘Epitaph’ world tour in May 2012, they chose to do so at London’s (England) Hammersmith Odeon, sorry, Apollo as it switched to a number of years back now sadly, although those of us that remember going to the old ‘Hammy Odeon’ mostly through the 80’s will always consider it as such!

With Richie Faulkner now in the lineup in place of JP legend KK Downing, joining Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Scott Travis, they’ve done well by the masses that came out to see them in 2011 / 2012.
The opening intro for the show, is ‘Battle Hymn’ from Priest’s ‘Painkiller’ album, which then roars into ‘Rapid Fire,’ which is a killer opener for JP in anyone’s book!
Phenomenal lighting and ‘new’ boy Richie Faulkner shows his ‘metal’ – cough, cough … sorry!  – with some great lead work alongside Glenn Tipton.

Rob fronts it all so well, what a vocal range!

Flames burst from the stage and the ‘British Steel’ album cover appears on the screen behind the band introduces ‘Metal Gods,’ which just sounds so full.
You know, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness ‘The Priest’ twice live in the past four years, once on the anniversary tour for ‘British Steel’ back in 2009 with KK Downing and then in 2011 on the ‘Epitaph’ tour, both here in the Detroit area and live they are still such a great live act.
Rob then introduces the next song with ‘Is everybody ready for some Judas Priest Heavy Metal?’ Cue ‘Heading Out To The Highway’ which brings on a huge Hammersmith roar from this London crowd, who also do an excellent job echoing Rob on each chorus, great!
Really love the band when the harmony lead break kicks in, albeit too brief.
I will add at this point that there definitely appears to be a much better rapport / interaction between the old band members and Richie Faulkner, than how it seemed back in November 2011.

Good to see, although they are saying this was their final, full scale world tour as Priest. Hmmm, I wonder just what that really means, if anything?

‘Judas Rising’ from ‘Angel of Retribution’ is next and it’s funny as the band had all appeared to have left the stage at the end of the last song, then they all come back out as the actual intro tape for ‘Judas Rising’ acts as a lead in for the band. Just seems a little odd as this DVD is taken from a one night show at Hammy Odeon, sorry … Apollo.

‘Starbreaker’ next is introduced by Rob as, ‘This one is from ‘Sin after Sin.’The crowd is more than happy to sing the ‘Starbreaker’ chorus line. Glenn encourages them by cupping his hand behind his ear.

The harmony guitars again come into play on this song briefly and it’s all great, I love it!
Glenn Tipton seems to smile from ear to ear throughout, much happier looking ‘chappie’ than he looked when they played here in Detroit last time out.

Richie and Glenn take the front of stage position to lead the band into ‘Victim of Changes,’ which as all Priest fans know, has a fine harmony intro indeed!
Faulkner is sporting a ‘Flying V’ guitar - Favoured of course by former Priest legend KK Downing - after having started out the show with a black Gibson Les Paul, totally looks more than fitting in Priest.
Glenn Tipton takes a bit of a solo moment here with all but drummer Scott Travis having left the stage for a minute or so and then Richie Faulkner impresses with some truly stunning lead work, to which the crowd praise him up for.

Scott Travis and Ian Hill remain solid to a fault, as the backbone and rhythm section for the band throughout.

Rob then introduces ‘Never Satisfied’ as, “a song from ‘Rocka Rolla’ with some brilliant riffs!”It’s certainly one of those oldies but goodies style tune.

What was great about the ‘Epitaph’ tour was Rob’s little history lesson given before pretty much every song in the set and next tune, the Joan Baez classic, ‘Diamonds and Rust,’ made even more so by Priest is no exception, as he tells the crowd that “this is our latest interpretation of her beautiful song, ‘Diamonds and Rust,” that is a tune that’s starts out gently and then really rocks out, as anyone would expect of a Priest tune, right?!
That said, it does seem rushed in Rob's vocal delivery, once they do start rocking it out.
As the song really gets into its groove, flames appear all over the back video screen to add to the massive finale of the song.

The band all leave the stage once more, as backing tapes start rolling – Unless there’s a keyboards guy behind the curtain? – and then impressive lighting brings the band back out for ‘Prophecy’ with Rob cloaked in a golden hooded cape and clutching a Neptune like trident.

One of the things that has always got me about Rob, is that he never seems to make any real eye contact with the crowd, with his head always looking down at the stage or side to side of the stage, as he ‘stalks’ around the stage area. I’ve never really understood that and I’ve never heard it discussed in any interview with him either?
Kind of weird …
Of course he’s doing exactly this throughout the song ‘Prophecy.’It’s also very obvious the prominent keyboards evident throughout the song.
I guess the album did feature Don Airey (Rainbow, Ozzy, Deep Purple) on keyboards, so how did they cover the keyboards here .., pre-recorded backing tracks ...?

‘Night Crawler’ next is an absolute epic like track and it gets very intense and actually brings Iron Maiden to mind in places, although we all know Priest have been around longer than Maiden, although ‘Night Crawler’ was not released until 1990 ...
Anyway, monster track nonetheless.

Another old favourite these days is ‘Turbo Lover,’ which I can remember back in the day, Priest fans questioning the bands use of synths at the time. That seems to be a minor detail today, as this track goes down a storm with the London crowd, with the ‘Hammersmith choir’ taking over singing the chorus.

So all the band except Rob Halford take another walk from the stage, who remains to talk some about the ‘Stained Glass’ album and what “a huge ballad ‘Beyond the Realms of Death’ is” next.
It’s always been such a monster, monster track in my mind and once more Richie Faulkner as the new guy deserves much praise for some great guitar work, but for me the icing on the cake is Glenn’s killer solo.

Glenn and Richie walk out first again and tease the crowd – as they are roaring … - that they can’t hear them!
This leads to their joint introduction to ‘The Sentinel’ and then the band all return and how Rob sustains his voice as long as he does always astounds me still.
Love the guitar duel between both Richie and Glenn, brilliant!

You know the more Priest you take in, the more you hear where Iron Maiden got a hell of a lot of their influence from …
‘Blood Red Skies’ is a killer song up next and again, those keyboards are very, very obvious and it’s yet another crowd pleaser!

Rob does a little more crowd chat, saying that “as the stage has turned green, that can only mean one thing, it’s the ‘Green Manalishi (With the Two Pronged Crown’and the band proceed to rip through their version of the Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac classic.

Then its sing-a-long time for the crowd as Rob leads the crowd into, “’Breaking the what?’ BREAKING THE WHAT?!’ ‘Breaking the Law’and he lets the crowd sing the entire lead vocal for the massive hit song. Brilliant!

Scott Travis gets a brief drum solo spot, which then leads into ‘Painkiller.’
It's monster double bass drum time here and another monster solo from Glenn and likewise, Richie's solo in the song isn't too shabby either!

Once again the band all depart the stage, only to return soon after for the double barrelled assault of 'The Hellion / Electric Eye.' Killer stuff!
The band departs at the end of the song, but only until we hear the rev's from Rob's Harley, that he then rides out onstage, leather whip in mouth to signal 'Hell Bent For Leather.'
Amazing that Rob can sing the track while sitting astride the monster bike, but he does and the crowd helps once again with each chorus of the song.

The clearing the stage after each or every other song continues and when Rob comes back next he asks the crowd to make as much noise as possible for the Judas Priest crew that is behind the band to put on show. Of course the audience duly obliges!

Rob then does a little playing vocally with the crowd, in a similar fashion to what Freddie Mercury always did with Queen audiences, pacing up and down and gets a good sing-a-long, back and forth activity with his crowd and then the band joins him for '(You've got) Another Thing Comin'.'
Rob works the crowd some more having them sing every second line of the first verse and it's great stuff.

'Living After Midnight' is the evening closer, to wrap up an impressive set once again for Judas Priest in front of final audience of the 'Epitaph' tour.

It's a very good DVD concert, although surprised there are no bonus features here.
You'd think if they're saying it's the final full scale world tour, that they'd be some interview footage or something from behind the scenes, but alas no.

Still, I enjoyed it, Priest fans will no doubt love it too!

Rating: 4 out of 5


To purchase this DVD or on Blu-ray:


Blu-Ray -