Foreigner brought energy and the emotion on the first leg of their 40th Anniversary Tour, with opening act Cameron Matthew Ray.

When you’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of your eponymous debut album with a worldwide tour, you’ve done something right. Several things right. You’ve put out music that fans love to listen to over and over. You’ve entertained fans in concert so that they want to come back to see you perform. And, you’ve gained a whole new generation of fans along the way.

This perfect storm came about Friday night when Foreigner captivated the sold-out Verizon Theatre. They are on the first leg of their 40th Anniversary Tour that continues through September. The tour also goes to Europe and will feature additional well-known acts with them.

The wall-to-wall crowd roared as soon as the lights dimmed and an unseen announcer welcomed them to the stage. The audience stood in unison at the first notes of “Double Vision” and stayed on their feet all evening. Vocalist Kelly Hansen looked and fit the part of a rock star as he sang, danced, and entertained as only a rock star can.

All the band members were dressed in some combination of black on black, which matched their cohesion as a group. Even without co-founder Mick Jones (out with health problems), the band jammed as the crowd sang the refrain of “Head Games.”

Kelly went into the crowd as Thom Gimbrel traded his guitar for keyboards on “Cold As Ice.” The lights then lowered, and every woman in the seats thought the vocalist was singing directly to her during “Waiting For A Girl Like You.” His sweeping gestures kept the ladies swooning to the forthright lyrics.

In an impromptu move, Hansen told the audience to put away their phones as they were going to vote on the next song. “Blue Morning, Blue Day” received the loudest cheer among the two hits and two deep cuts on the ballot. Again, it was a singalong as every fan knew the words to the hit song.

Kelly got everyone’s attention by talking about naughty Texas women and asking about dirty girls. This was a perfect segue to a raucous version of “Dirty White Boys.” Bassist Jeff Pilson (co-founder of Dokken) began a new arrangement of “Say You Will” with a slow beginning on his Fender P as all the musicians lined up at the front of the stage. Hansen got a huge hand when he said, “It’s all us. No pitch, no sampler, no backing tracks. This is real people singing real live music.”

The audience erupted for Foreigner’s very first hit, “Feels Like The First Time.” The crowd sang the entire song as Kelly alternately shook hands with them and also explored every inch of the stage with his dancing. The lights lowered as Thom moved to center stage with his saxophone for “Urgent” to everyone’s delight.

The rest of the band got a chance to show their prowess as Michael Bluestein played a resounding keyboard solo before drummer Chris Frazier joined him. Chris then pounded the skins he had just covered with water to create a stunning visual effect to go along with the throbbing beat.

The lights went out to start “Juke Box Hero,” one of the many songs that led to founders Mick Jones and Lou Gramm being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Hansen worked the crowd, hit notes above his usual range, and picked Bruce Watson’s Gibson Les Paul guitar with a tambourine. The band turned the set-ending song into a long, crowd-pleasing jam session.

The standing ovation brought them back out, and the women swooned again to “I Want To Know What Love Is.” They brought out the Arlington Heights High School Choir to sing backup as the young girls enjoyed to the thrill of a lifetime.

Almost everyone stayed until the end, and they got to hear one of the ultimate concert-closing songs in “Hot Blooded.” All the musicians soloed, then joined for a jam session that lasted several minutes and raised the energy level to new heights.

The 15 songs over one-and-a-half hours showed why they have sold over 80 million albums. With 16 top 30 singles, they can’t play everything, but what they did play was a Greatest Hits setlist.

Singer-songwriter Cameron Matthew Ray opened the show with a short set that expressed his story-telling style. Check his website to see where the Dallas resident is playing next.

Thanks to the Verizon Theatre staff for their help.

Joe Guzman of National Rock Review was on hand to record the event.

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Cameron Matthew Ray
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Verizon Theatre
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Event Date: 03-Feb-2017