With Foreigner & Loverboy teaming for gig: ‘Make sure you go to the bathroom before we start the show’
Preview by Joshua Maloni
Music fans know there’s usually a time at each concert where they can take a song or two off: Go to the bathroom, get a snack, grab a cold one, check email.
That routine is going to be a little trickier when Foreigner takes the Darien Lake concert stage, pairing with fellow 1980s hitmakers Loverboy.
“Loverboy is killing it out there. And we're just having the time of our lives,” Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson said in a phone interview this week. “I think the set has been real strong. So, I guess the clue is, make sure you go to the bathroom before we start the show. Get a beer – have it all ready!”
His band has begun its “Farewell Tour,” of which a press release explained, “The spectacular show will thrill audiences with stellar performances of more than 20 combined chart-topping songs.”
Foreigner – including lead singer Kelly Hansen and founder and guitarist Mick Jones – brings a barrage of bangers and big ballads to the ball, including “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Juke Box Hero,” “Urgent,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Feels Like The First Time,” “Head Games,” “Say You Will,” “Dirty White Boy,” “Long, Long Way From Home” and “I Want To Know What Love Is.”
Not to be outdone, Loverboy, led by vocalist Mike Reno and guitarist Paul Dean, has fan-favorites including “Lovin’ Every Minute of It,” “This Could Be the Night,” “Hot Girls in Love,” “The Kid is Hot Tonite,” “Notorious,” “Turn Me Loose,” “When It’s Over,” “Heaven In Your Eyes,” “Queen of the Broken Hearts” and “Working for the Weekend.”
Pilson previewed the show in this edited Q&A.
Q: I know you guys are a couple of days into the farewell tour. How is that show going so far, and what's been the reaction from fans?
Jeff Pilson: It's been amazing. The fans have been fantastic. I mean, sold-out shows. It's been really wild. It's been more exciting, and more activity than I expected. Loverboy have been great. It's a hell of a show, and I'm just so excited, and people seem to be really happy.
Q: Obviously, Foreigner has no shortage of hit songs. I'm sure you're going to cover most if not all in this show. But as far as the setlist goes – because this is the farewell tour – did you guys have an opportunity to maybe plug in some of your favorites that you might not have another opportunity to play?
Jeff Pilson: Well, we are doing a little bit more than we usually do. We're doing an acoustic portion of the show, which is really exciting. Just to make it a little different, give it a little more of a different feel for this farewell tour. It's been really fun. So, yeah, we're playing a long show, doing a lot of stuff, adding some little extras, going the extra mile, man. We want to take this all the way to the top.
Foreigner’s Kelly Hansen on stage (Photo provided by Lappen Enterprises)
Foreigner’s Jeff Pilson (File photo)
Q: In having the conversation about having the farewell tour, what made it the right time to say that this is going to be it?
Jeff Pilson: You know, a lot of it kind of centers around our singer Kelly, who, you know, I mean, it's a physical job. These are very, very challenging songs to sing, and he is very committed to never, ever sucking, basically (laughs). You know, if he senses that it's starting to go, he's going to stop.
So, I think what it is, is this is preempting that. He wants to go out while he's still on top. And while the band is still on top. So, the feeling is really, you know, let's go out in a blaze of glory.
Q: Does that speak to his talent and to what he's added to the band, that you're not just saying, “Let's go find someone else”? You’re basically saying he's irreplaceable at this point.
Jeff Pilson: Well, I think what it really says is his integrity and the band's integrity. It's about, you know, if we can't give it 100%, we're not going to do it. So, makes sense to me.
Q: You've been in this band 20 years now. As you've sung the songs, as you’ve taken to the road with Mick and the guys, what have you learned about these songs, about the music, about the Foreigner experience that maybe you didn't know coming into it?
Jeff Pilson: Well, I think I know Mick Jones’ headspace now, and understand that, and realize that that's a lot of the reasoning for why the Foreigner records were the quality they were. Because I love Foreigner records. I think Foreigner records were just exemplary recordings. And I know why, because I know Mick’s standards are very, very, very high, and he doesn’t let stuff go. It’s great. It's got to be right.
I think that's the main thing I learned. You just got to keep on it until it's right. And Mick is incredible with that. And like I say, I think I've learned a lot from him about that.
Q: You've been coming here to Western New York as long as I've been covering music and, certainly in that time, we've seen different generations of Foreigner fans. What does it mean to see grandparents and parents and kids – and just new generation after new generation – loving this music, loving the band, coming out to see you show after show?
Jeff Pilson: You know, I think it speaks to a very universal quality in music itself, which is the fact that it can kind of break those barriers of age and genre and everything else. I mean, people that love country music love Foreigner and so do hard-rockers. It's a pretty wide range. And I think that that just means great, universal music.
I mean, the objective of music is to communicate and to elicit emotion. And we certainly are able to do that with these songs. So, something about these songs must be magical. And I know I feel the magic. So, I think when you got magic songs, you have that ability, and that's worth its weight in gold in a rock band.
Q: So, in as much as this is the “Farewell Tour” tour, I believe Kelly said there could be some one-offs or some special appearances here and there. Have you guys talked about that at all?
Jeff Pilson: Well, yeah, I mean, it's the “Farewell Tour,” but, No. 1, the “Farewell Tour” doesn't have to be over within a year. We're going to go until at least the end of ’24; Possibly later. And, yeah, that doesn't mean there couldn't be more recordings or one-offs or private shows or residencies. There's possibilities of other things; just not slogging it out nine months a year on the road anymore.
Q: Tell me a little bit about the decision to bring Loverboy on board. You mentioned that they've been rocking it out night after night. What do you like about those guys, and what can fans look forward to as far as that part of the show goes?
Jeff Pilson: I personally have known the Loverboy guys for almost 40 years, because Dokken played with them a bunch in the ’80s, and so we've known those guys for a long time.
No. 1, they're a great band. I mean, they sound every bit as good as they ever have. And like I say, I go back to their early days, and they just sound amazing. Mike sings fabulous. They're just a great band. They have a lot of great songs.
And we knew that when you put that ad up there – between their hits and our hits, what a killer sounding event that was going to be. So, it was just kind of a no-brainer.
I mean, I know Live Nation really thought this was a good pairing – and they must be right, because we're doing great.
Foreigner and special guest Loverboy perform at the Darien Lake Amphitheater on Friday, July 28. The show has a 7 p.m. start time. Click here for more information, or for tickets.
Foreigner’s Kelly Hansen on stage (Image courtesy of Wolfson Entertainment Inc.)