August 12th, 2017
Key Bank Pavilion
Words and pix: Ed Thompson
I can sum this review up in three easy words. And I don’t think that anyone that was at Pittsburg’s Key Bank Pavilion Saturday night would disagree. Kelly Hansen ROCKED!!!
The band hit the stage from behind a huge black curtain to the opening song Double Vison. From the first note to his last breath of Hot Blooded, Kelly Hansen rocked from one end of the stage to the other and everywhere in between. Even as far as where the seats end in the seating sections of the pavilion. Yes, Kelly Hansen went DEEP into the crowd and got the already frenzied crowd rocking even more. He literally had enough energy for the entire band. Thinking he does that every night being in his mid 50’s is hard to believe, but apparently, he does. He looked like a young Mick Jagger running from one end of the stage to the other and jumping and leaping in between. Hansen was rough in my opinion in his early years filling in for the great Lou Graham. He didn’t really have an identity with the band other than “he’s filling in for Lou”. But between that time and last night in Pittsburgh, Kelly truly has found an identity. And it’s as “Foreigner’s Front man” without any doubt. He controlled the stage like he owned it and in turn owned the band. It helped that he had Foreigner’s founder and legend Mick Jones with him tonight in Pittsburgh. We were lucky enough to be one of the cities that Mick’s wanted to play in. It was truly great to see him play again. Last time I got to see Mick and the band itself was in the late 90’s right after Lou Graham had his brain surgery. While it was tough seeing Lou struggle to cover the basic’s in the Foreigner catalog back then, last night was the exact opposite. Kelly covered the night’s setlist and covered it well. Maybe even too well. He left the crowd screaming for more even following the encores. Seeing the legendary Mick Jones was great though. Such a master at his craft and really controlled the music end of the show. I’m not sure how much Mick plans to be on the road in the future, so I feel lucky to have been able to see him perform again and also get some great images of him having fun.
Getting back to the concert itself, I have said, the band itself was electric. The stage was all white with mostly white lighting throughout the show which really made the photos I got to take to pop. Kelly wearing white with sunglasses on really helped the photos look great too. Following Double Vison, both Head Games and Cold Ice were next on the set list. Both really showed Hansen’s vocal strength and durability. Waiting for a Girl Like You gave him and the band a chance to slow down and catch their breath. Following that, Hansen and the band gave the crowd a choice of the next song they wanted to head and Blue Morning, Blue Day once overwhelmingly. Turning up the energy next with Dirty White Boy and Feels Like The First Time. The highlights of the night in my opinion from the reaction from the crowd was both Urgent and Juke Box Hero. Both were huge hits for the band in the 80’s of the Foreigner 4 album. Both had great lead ups to the song but I think the sax solo on Urgent by Thom Gimbel really was incredible. SO loud and so strong. Not one note missed or added. Just incredible the way that sax echoed off the roof of the pavilion and into the crowd. Starrider closed the set out and left the crowd in awe. Begging for more, the nearly sold out crowd got two more from Hansen and Company. I Want To Know What Love Is, is a weird one for more on the encore list. To me, and this is only me, the first encore should pick up where the last song left on at. To slow it down kind of seems like wasted energy for me, but still, Kelly nailed every note and then some. Picking it back up and closing the night out was the band’s anthem Hot Blooded. And truthfully, that’s the way they left the crowd. This was an incredible night and show. So much energy and positive vibes left me ready to run home from the show. It was like watching a Rocky movie. Incredible show guys and put this one down as a “must see” if the band comes to your town.