Gig review: FOREIGNER – Shepherds Bush Empire, London, 12 April 2014

Foreigner - Shepherd's Bush Empire, 12 April 2014

A different gig tonight as Foreigner were playing unplugged, their only UK acoustic date slotted in after their headlining tour with Europe and FM was announced. Not quite the sell-out that the full electric tour has been but a healthy turn-out nonetheless.

Featuring founding member Mick Jones (acoustic guitar/vocals), back in his hometown, the band – Kelly Hansen (vocals/percussion), Michael Bluestain (piano/vocals) Jeff Pilson (acoustic guitar/acoustic bass/vocals), Tom Gimbel (sax/flute/vocals), Bruce Watson (acoustic guitar/mandolin/vocals) and former Eddie Money/Whitesnake drummer Chris Frazier – played a superb gig, simple as that.

Foreigner - Shepherd's Bush Empire, 12 April 2014

The band seemed to have a great time on stage, almost as much as the audience and midway through the set was a fan-generated Q&A session hosted by the DJ who does the AOR show on Team Rock Radio. There were treats for the longstanding fans including the never before performed live ‘Girl On The Moon’ from their classic ’4′ album and ‘The Flame Still Burns’ penned by Mick Jones for the ‘Still Crazy’ film.

Songs like ‘Jukebox Hero’ and ‘Dirty White Boy’ (which still managed to sound heavy despite being acoustic) sounded great in their stripped back form. ‘Say You Will’ is done like their full electric set, so it was really the only song of the night the band would have been playing regularly in that style.

Foreigner - Shepherd's Bush Empire, 12 April 2014

Even my mum would have been chuffed as they covered an Elvis classic ‘That’s Alright’. Special mentions to Kelly Hansen whose vocals never fail to impress and he is a perfect fit for the band. Jeff Pilson must also get credit for tonight as he had a hand in the arrangements of the songs in their unplugged form and newboy Bruce Watson (not the Big Country guitarist!) who plays a mean mandolin!

Of course the ballads like ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’ worked well in the acoustic setting and the band’s backing harmonies on ‘Feels Like The First Time’ were jaw dropping. The set ended with ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ with the band joined by a choir to make a perfect ending to one of the best gigs I have seen in a long time.

If they do their acoustic show again get along to it as you see a whole new side and sound to this band. I have been lucky enough to have seen this band three times now and they never disappoint.

Review by Jason Ritchie
Photos and Gallery by Darran Scott

Gig review (Foreigner/Europe/FM, April 2014)

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