Schenectady County

Foreigner bringing 40 years of hits to Proctors

“When people come to the show, I think sometimes they don’t realize how many songs they know that Fo
Lead singer Kelly Hansen with Foreigner at the South Carolina State Fair in 2013. The group performs at Proctors Thursday night. (Tribune News Service)
Lead singer Kelly Hansen with Foreigner at the South Carolina State Fair in 2013. The group performs at Proctors Thursday night. (Tribune News Service)

If rock fans know “Cold As Ice,” they know rock band Foreigner.

That means they also know “Feels Like the First Time,” “Hot Blooded” and “Dirty White Boy.”

And “Urgent.”

And “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

And “Waiting For a Girl Like You.”

“When people come to the show, I think sometimes they don’t realize how many songs they know that Foreigner is responsible for,” said Kelly Hansen, the 55-year-old singer who has been the voice of Foreigner since 2005.

“There’s a lot of ‘Oh, I didn’t know they did that one.’ I think we really enjoy having a high-energy, interactive show with the audience. I like to say I like to play with the audience, not play to the audience.”

Foreigner

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady

HOW MUCH: $200-$20

MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org

Hansen will play with the audience at Proctors in Schenectady tonight. Foreigner takes the stage at 8 p.m.

With hit songs created during a 40-year career, it can be tough for Hansen, guitarist Mick Jones, bassist Jeff Pilson and their four band mates to put together set lists.

“It’s very difficult to add new material to the show sometimes, because that means you have to take something really big out of the show,” Hansen said in a telephone interview from Austin, Texas.

“You can’t always just make the show longer. So that’s one of the challenges. Also, just with the existing material, there are things we can’t put in the show because there’s not enough time. I guess that’s a really good problem to have.”

Lou Gramm, who along with Jones helped found Foreigner in New York City in 1976, was the group’s first voice. Some fans might still consider Hansen the new guy, even though he’s been out front with the band for 11 years now.

“I feel I am representing these songs with sincerity and in a way that really reflects the vibe of Foreigner and I really enjoy doing it,” he said. “I’ve been spending pretty much all of my last 11 years of my life focused on doing this and making sure I’m doing this well. You’ll never please everybody, but I’m doing what I think is right for myself and for the band.”

He is plenty experienced. His rock outfit Hurricane produced three albums between 1984 and 1990, progress halted when the band’s label went bankrupt in 1991. Hurricane later reformed for a fourth album in 2001, and Hansen recorded with bands such as Air Pavilion, Unruly Child and Perfect World. He was a guest singer and session man for bands like Slash’s Snakepit and for guys like Don Dokken.

With Foreigner, Hansen knows he’s singing songs for fans who know the melodies and the lyrics. And they kind of want to hear them in their original styles.

“It’s not my job to necessarily go out there and say, ‘Hey, look at how differently I can do this song!’ which some people find is the right thing and some people don’t seem to understand,” he said.

“I’m definitely doing these songs my way, but this isn’t a band that does song stylings of Foreigner. This is Foreigner doing Foreigner, so you have to do the songs the way people learned to love them.”

Hansen is not one for favorites. But he compares Foreigner’s big collection of hits to ripe fruit.

“One day, I might be in the mood for an apple,” he said. “One day, I might be in the mood for an orange. Luckily, I have a very wonderful garden of fruit I get to choose from. A lot of bands don’t have that many great songs. They have the two songs people know at the end of the set. I’m so fortunate to be in a band where the catalog is this vast and all the songs are well known and well-crafted.”

With all that good Foreigner material around, there is no room for any Hurricane stuff. Hansen said his earlier band just didn’t have enough people interested, so people will not hear any Hurricane samples at Proctors.

“We don’t do any Dokken songs either,” he said.

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124, [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

Categories: -News-, Entertainment

Leave a Reply