Foreigner brings its sizable catalog of hits to Simmons Bank Arena on Sunday, and veteran rockers bring in local talent to open the show.
The Little Rock Presbyterian Church Second Chamber Choir will perform a 15-minute set of a capella versions of rock ‘n’ roll classics before Foreigner takes the stage.
“I had never thought of that,” is how Bevan Keating, second Presbyterian music and arts director and choirmaster, says he responded when approached by Foreigner representatives. “But Foreigner is right in my wheelhouse.”
And in addition to providing an opening slot on the show, the veteran group is donating $500 to the church’s children’s music ministry.
Foreigner was formed in 1976 by British guitarist Mick Jones, fellow Brit Ian McDonald and American singer Lou Gramm. Along with Boston, Journey, Styx and other outfits from the same period, Foreigner would become a mainstay of rock FM radio for decades to come.
The jukebox hero band was a business force from the start. His self-titled debut in 1977 included the hits “Cold as Ice”, https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/aug/05/help-from-foreigner/ “Feels Like the First Time” and “Long, Long Way from home.” The follow-up, “Double Vision”, was another bestseller and included the “Hot Blooded”, https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/aug/05/help-from-foreigner/”Blue Morning, Blue Day” and the title track among his hits. The “Head Games” LP, which included “Dirty White Boy”, continued the streak. By late 1980, however, McDonald and fellow founder Al Greenwood were out of the band.
“4” was released in 1981 and included outtakes from rock radio “Jukebox Hero,” https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/aug/05/help-from-foreigner/“Urgent” and “Waiting for a Girl Like You.”https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/aug/05/help-from-foreigner/ “Agent Provocateur” dropped in 1984.
The latter contains the group’s only Billboard No. 1, the radical ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is”, written by Jones and recorded with the New Jersey Mass Choir.
There would be a few more hits before Gramm left the band in 1990 after his second solo album, 1989’s “Long Hard Look”. He joined the band two years later, but health problems forced him to quit. the band again in 2003.
Besides lead guitarist Jones – Foreigner’s sole founder – the current lineup includes vocalist Kelly Hansen, bassist Jeff Pilson, drummer Chris Frazier, keyboardist Michael Bluestein, keyboardist-saxophonist Tom Silverstein and guitarist Bruce Watson.
Pilson, who played with Dokken during that band’s hair-metal heyday, has been with Foreigner for more than 15 years, having attended what he thought was a once-in-a-lifetime show at a California resort in July 2004.
“We were just testing the waters,” Pilson said of the gig from his home in Los Angeles. “Mick had such a good time it convinced him to revamp Foreigner and I’ve been here ever since.”
Members of the Little Rock Presbyterian Church Second Chamber Choir who will perform at Sunday’s Foreigner concert include, clockwise from top, Elizabeth Riddick, Leann Hatley, Shea Williamson, Satia Spencer, Moriah Patterson, Janette Robinson and Kira Keating. (Special for the Democrat-Gazette/Keely Reeves)
Foreigner did a string of dates in June and early July before taking a few days off and returning to a long stretch that saw them play through the fall.
Pilson says after more than a year of not performing due to the pandemic, performing for live audiences has rejuvenated.
“That’s great,” he says without hesitation. “The crowds have been really good.”
For years the band has invited local choirs to sing along to “I Want to Know What Love Is”, but with covid-19 it’s not the best idea at the moment.
“We found other ways, like having the choir open the show and get a little boost,” Pilson said. “We’re just trying to do our bit for music and music education.”
In press materials, Jones states: “For me, music is not only the most powerful form of communication between the peoples of the world, it provides a gateway that opens up a fantastic new dimension of sensation and creativity. what we can do to provide our young people with the tools to express themselves through music is our goal in this partnership.”
Foreigner’s donation will go to Second Presbyterian’s children’s music ministry, said Keating, who is also executive director of Wildwood Park for the Arts in West Little Rock.
“The youth music ministry is led by Mary Ibis, and we have children’s choirs, children’s art programs, a bell choir. They don’t just sing in church on Sundays, they get an education quite involved music that complements what they do at school or privately.”
The chamber choir consists of 20 professional musicians and has toured North America and Europe.
The singers will do their sacred and secular duty on Sunday, performing in church that morning and for rock fans that evening.
Assistant conductor Eric Meincke, who completed the Second Presbyterian Children’s Program and is pursuing a Master of Music in Choral Conducting at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, is working on the arrangements for the ensemble, said Keating.
“We brainstormed and put together some really cool music. Foreigner gave us permission to do one of their songs and we practiced like crazy. I can’t tell you how excited we are about it. .”
Overseas: Greatest Hits
- 7 p.m. SundaySimmons Bank Arena, 1 Simmons Bank Arena Drive, North Little Rock
- First part : Chamber Choir of the Second Presbyterian Church
- Admission: $39.50, $69.50, $89.50, $149.50
- (501) 975-9000 | simmonsbankarena.com