Rockers of real note
By Martin Hutchinson
FOREIGNER, with special guests Europe and FM, appear on-stage together for the first time when they undertake a short tour of the UK throughout April.
Europe, the legendary Swedish hard rock band, perform tracks from their last four albums and their classic worldwide smash anthem The Final Countdown.
FM were formed 30 years ago and had a reputation as being hot on the road. After a 12- year break, they got back together in 2007 and have recently released the albums Rockville and Rockville II to great acclaim.
Foreigner, fronted by founder member Mick Jones, have sold more than 75 million records and 10 multi-platinum albums in their career, which began in 1976.
The band is responsible for some of the most enduring rock anthems in music – tracks like Cold as Ice, Juke Box Hero, Waiting For A Girl Like You and the worldwide best-seller I Want To Know What Love Is.
The sound of Foreigner owes much to the vocal interpretations of the music, and original singer Lou Gramm was the template. Lou left the band and a new singer was required. Enter Kelly Hansen.
“It was about 2004 and I was not happy with my career and I decided to make some changes.,” the singer said. “I saw an internet article about a charity show by some of the members of Foreigner and I thought I might be able to get involved with a Mick Jones solo project if one was in the offing.
“They eventually sent me a CD of five Foreigner songs without vocals, to which I added my singing; the next thing is that they came to LA, where I was at the time, and we jammed for an hour or so, and that was it. I did my first show with them the next week.”
But following in Gramm’s footsteps might have been a bit daunting? “I’d been a singer for a long time and I knew it might be an issue, but I also knew that Foreigner was a great band and it’s a gift to be able to sing those songs.
“When I joined, we had lots of discussions about how we would present the songs live, and I’m one of those singers that likes to do the songs as they are on the records – after all, that’s the version the fans fall in love with, and I’m happy to say Mick was in complete agreement. I have my own voice – and my own shoes!” Since then, Kelly has really made those songs his own and the band recently re-recorded their biggest hits. “We did that for a lot of reasons. The band owns the songs, and the new recording is a good representation of what the band is today, where we are now.”
Kelly does not have a favourite. “No, I’m not a ‘favourite’ type of guy. I take things individually. They’re all apples, peaches and pears and, one day, I fancy apples and one day I fancy peaches.” With the two other bands on the bill real out-and-out rockers, is Kelly and the band going to try and out-rock them? Kelly answers tactfully: “We’ll just be doing our show, you have to present a full, well-rounded show – but we’ll have the heavy guys out. We’ll be playing our big hits and the songs people know.
“I always love going over the pond to the UK: it’s a super-nice change because there’s a different vibe. The people are really into the concert scene and the fans are really into the music.
“I really enjoy being in this band and the demand for us is bigger than ever. It’s challenging material but I enjoy singing it. It’s gonna be a really great night of music.”
Foreigner, with Europe and FM, appear around the country during April.