Monday, October 3, 2016


Our rockin' weekend continued Saturday Night when we saw Lou Gramm, former lead singer of Foreigner, live at The Arcada Theatre.

I have been a Foreigner fan from Day One ... I played their first four album incessantly as each was released.  (I remember the first Foreigner album coming out shortly after the first Boston album topped the charts ... two brand new INCREDIBLE bands who were creating Classic Rock staples at the time ... still played every single day for the past 40 years now!) 

Despite my love of their music, I never had the opportunity to see Foreigner live during their hey-day.  In fact, because of other commitments, I missed Lou Gramm the last couple of times he was here ... and wasn't able to attend this summer's Foreigner concert in Elk Grove Village either ... so I was bound and determined to make it to this show. 

Local group Soul Patch Monkey kicked things off Saturday Night, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that louder isn't better ... it's just ... louder. 

Although their set list contained some interesting classic rock selections, they were painful to listen to ... the volume was just too loud to be enjoyable. 

Their lead vocalist / drummer wasn't half bad ... when he was singing on key ... which was about 50% of the time ... which, doing the math, drops their overall rating to about 25% ... yeah, I'd say that's pretty accurate.  I enjoyed about 25% of their set. 

After an intermission followed by a brief delay, Lou Gramm took the stage around 9:15.  My hope was that this seasoned professional wouldn't blast us out of our seats ... surely his band knew better that to really enjoy the music, you have to be able to HEAR the music at a sound level that allows your brain to process all the little nuances that make the whole thing come together as a collective piece of work.  Unfortunately, I was wrong. 

They were every bit as loud ... and seemed to get louder as the night went on.  (In fact, at one point Gramm, addressing the balcony asked "Are we loud enough up there?" and then stated "'Cause I think we're about to get a little louder.") 

I have to admit that this statement pretty much did me in.  I LOVE their music ... but it became such a muddled mess due to the volume that I wasn't able to enjoy the show.  (This has to be the loudest show I have ever heard at The Arcada ... and I've been to two or three others where the artist seemed more concerned with "turning it up to 11" than providing a concert experience that one could actually enjoy.)  Too bad ... as I had been looking forward to this one for a long, long time.  

Now, for the record, I will also state that's just me ... the REST of the crowd spent the entire concert up on their feet, cheering and screaming along with the band ... EVERY song drew this type of reaction ... and he did them all ... all of Foreigner's greatest hits plus a couple from his solo career.  The audience LOVED it!!!  It was a head-bangin' night of classic rock and roll and the audience absolutely ate it up.  

And I was surprised to see the mix of fans in that audience ... literally EVERY age group ... from a pack of screaming girls in their 20's ... to 40 year old women up on their feet, fist-pumping and singing along with every single word ... to couples in their 60's, drifting back to driving around listening to these tunes blasting out of their car radios when they first heard them some 40 years ago.  

So how was the show? Almost impossible to gauge ... but he certainly accomplished what he set out to do ... Gramm rocked the house Saturday night with an incredible selection of material. 

Was he good?  Absolutely ... and the audience LOVED him ... the music he and Mick Jones created is timeless.  It just would have been SO much better if it wasn't sledgehammered into your brain and presented instead at a volume level that you could actually enjoy.  (Seriously ... as I type this, it is 12 hours after we got home from the show ... and my ears are STILL plugged and ringing.  I'm sorry ... but that just doesn't present an enjoyable concert experience for me.)   


One forgets just how many hits Foreigner had ... Lou Gramm presented a non-stop assault of hit after hit after hit Saturday Night ... and still had to leave out a ton of material.   

Between 1977 and 1995, Foreigner placed 22 records on Billboard's Hot 100 Pop Singles Chart, nearly all of them co-written by Lou Gramm and Mick Jones.  16 of those made The Top 40, with nine of those hitting The Top Ten and one of them ("I Want To Know What Love Is") going all the way to #1.  Gramm then added four more chart hits under his own name, including the Top Ten Hits "Midnight Blue" (#5, 1987) and "Just Between You And Me" (1990) 

Here is a complete list of Foreigner's 21 Top 50 Hits, showing Billboard's peak position for each title ... I have also included three Lou Gramm solo tracks that met this criteria.  

Songs with an asterisk were performed Saturday Night): 

1977 - Feels Like The First Time (#4)*  
1977 - Cold As Ice (#6)*
1978 - Long, Long Way From Home (#20)* - he started the show with this one
1978 - Hot Blooded (#3)*
1978 - Double Vision (#2)*
1979 - Blue Morning, Blue Day (#15)* - one of my favorites (and one that we used to do back in the day ... I wasn't expecting to hear him do this so it was a real treat when he did!)

1979 - Dirty White Boy (#12)*
1979 - Head Games  (#14)*
1980 - Women (#41)
1981 - Urgent (#4)* - HUGE response to this one ... the crowd went nuts ... and let me tell you, Lou Gramm's sax player is PHENOMONAL!!!
1981 - Waiting For A Girl Like You (#2) - I was surprised he didn't do this one ... another GREAT Foreigner ballad that broke the mold before "I Want To Know What Love Is"
1982 - Juke Box Hero  (#26)* - Gramm bills himself as "The Juke Box Hero" ... and has an awesome, color logo that depicts him as a silhouette.  Despite this being on #26 hit at the time of its original release, it has gone on to become one of the ultimate rock classics ... another stand-out performance from Saturday Night's show
1982 - Break It Up (#26)
1985 - I Want To Know What Love Is (#1)* - another one that had the crowd swooning
1985 - That Was Yesterday (#12)* - a Forgotten Hit that was a pleasant concert surprise
1987 - Midnight Blue (#5)* - a Lou Gramm solo hit
1988 - Say You Will  (#6)
1988 - I Don't Want To Live Without You (#5)
1990 - Just Between You And Me (#6) - Gramm solo again ... and my favorite Lou Gramm solo track ... would have loved to have heard this one

1990 - True Blue Love  (#40) - Gramm solo track
1995 - Until The End Of Time  (#42) 

He also did the Free classic "All Right Now" as part of his encore.

Lou has several more shows coming up ... he's already got dates booked well into 2017 ...

If you love this music, go ... but I suggest you bring some earplugs with you so you can truly enjoy the show!   

Gramm unsuccessfully fought his drug demons throughout his first stint with Foreigner.  (He returned on several occasions to rejoin the band for special projects.)  Then he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that required immediate surgery. 

In this interview with Fox News, he explained how drugs and a brain tumor nearly killed him ... and how rehab and becoming a Born-Again Christian has kept him on the right path ever since ...