Foreigner & Cheap Trick at BB&T Pavilion

Rock from the ‘70s and ’80’s came alive again at BB&T Pavilion on Thursday, July 13! Jason Bonham and his ‘Led Zeppelin Experience’ opened the show and had the goal of transporting the majority of the audience back to their middle school and high school days. Bonham explained to the crowd, “I never really appreciated my father’s music until I was older. I used to be like, ‘take me to see The Police and I’ll be happy, and now The Police are seeing me’.” It was definitely unusual to watch a band led by the drummer, but all the members of the band contributed to a very impressive tribute to the music of Bonham’s late father. The lead singer reached for those high octaves of Robert Plant and nailed them, throwing in those classic Plant vocal interjections and moans.

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As people were returning to their seats from the set break, little snippets of Cheap Trick’s songs began playing over the speakers. It highlighted their accomplishments, including their recording of the ‘That ‘70s Show’ theme song, and a cover of ‘Dream Police’ sung by Apu from The Simpsons. Cheap Trick took the stage and opened with ‘Hello There’, greeting the audience with power chords and guitar picks flying from the hand of lead guitarist, Rick Nielsen while his son filled in on drums for the band. Lead singer Robin Zander came out sporting a tall, white top hat, with his iconic long blonde hair flowing from underneath. Zander’s impressive voice is still intact, and he hit all the high notes throughout the show. Although they might not have been as crisp as they were in the early days, Cheap Trick put on a great show and closed out with fan favorite ‘Surrender’, leaving the crowd chanting “We’re all alright! We’re all alright!”.

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Foreigner came out guns blazing, to celebrate 40 years of playing their music. The band was accompanied by an extensive stage setup which included three rows of lights suspended from the ceiling that changed positions throughout the show. The band was full of energy, especially from frontman and lead singer, Kelly Hansen. Hansen was picked up by the band in 2005, and started his music career with the glam rock outfit ‘Hurricane’ in the 1980s. Hansen constantly ran around the stage, flipping the microphone stand, and nailing the vocals. Throughout the show, Hansen would jump off stage and just run through the crowd, high-fiving everyone.

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At one point, founding member Mick Jones spoke to the audience about his time in the band, and sang a beautiful rendition of the song ‘Starrider’. Another interesting moment of the show was during ‘Juke Box Hero’. The audience was focused on the main stage during this encore performance but as the vocals began, Hansen was not on stage. The crowd began to look around to find that he was about 20 feet in the air, standing on a raised column in the area between the lawn area and the seated area of BB&T Pavilion. Finally, the band recruited a local high school choir for backup vocals on ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’, while the audience, reminiscing about their proms, swayed to the beat. All of the bands put on a great show and were a testament to their staying power over the decades; they weren’t slowing down for anybody, least of all, Father Time.

[Photos by: Rick Pettine]

[Article by Kyle Pettine]

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