FOREIGNER/WHITESNAKE/JASON BONHAM — BB&T PAVILION — JUNE 23RD, 2018
On June 23rd, I had the opportunity to see easily one of the best tours hitting the United States this summer, the 2018 Juke Box Heroes Tour. With three iconic bands from multiple eras of rock; the legendary Foreigner, Whitesnake, and the one and only Jason Bonham, it was without a doubt a night to remember.
Going into this show, I was incredibly excited for Whitesnake as I know they always put on an amazing performance. David Coverdale is undoubtedly one of my favorite vocalists, so it’s always a joy to see the band. All in all though, I didn’t really know what to expect during my first live Foreigner experience. Growing up, I had always known the hits and heard them on the radio along the likes of, ‘Hot Blooded’, ‘Feels Like The First Time’, ‘Urgent’, ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’, ‘Juke Box Hero’ and more, but had never considered myself a huge Foreigner fan. But this past Saturday night changed all that.
First up was Jason Bonham who performed a set full of Led Zeppelin covers. Being the son of iconic drummer John Bonham, Jason’s talent without a doubt goes unquestioned. Being behind the kit from an extremely early age, Jason has seen it all and has gotten to play with some of the greatest musicians of all time. Over the years, that has never changed! Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening, originally Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, pay tribute to the music his father had been such a huge part of creating. His current line-up consists of vocalist James Dylan, bassist Dorian Heartsong, both keyboardist and guitarist Alex Howland, and lead guitarist Jimmy Sakurai. Although I missed a big portion of his set to complete an interview (that is coming very soon I might add), I was able to see the final song, 'Stairway To Heaven', and was completely blown away. For those who missed the mighty Led Zeppelin like me, this is the closest and most accurate tribute that you will ever see, and it needs to be a bucket list show for all.
Next was Whitesnake, which as I stated before, I was incredibly excited for. The band consists of David Coverdale (of course), the incendiary (yes they both are) Joel Hoesktra and Reb Beach on guitar, Michael Devin on bass, and the ever so talented Tommy Aldridge on drums. Although this was truly a ‘greatest hits’ show, I loved it all the same. The band performed fan favorites such as ‘Bad Boys’, ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’, ‘Crying In The Rain’, ‘Is This Love’, ‘Here I Go Again’, and more. I feel sorry for the person standing behind me, who was probably sick of me shouting every lyric and flailing my arms around. I personally believe the band is still at the top of their game. Joel Hoekstra who also makes his rounds with Trans Siberian Orchestra and Cher, is a complete talent. He always has a smile on his face, and very clearly enjoys soloing over some of the best songs of the 1980's. Reb Beach who has played with rock and roll heavy-weights along the likes of Alice Cooper, Night Ranger, and Dokken is another perfect puzzle piece for the group. Hoekstra and Beach 'duel' it out onstage; and surely by the end of the set will make you go home and practice your guitar. The impeccable Tommy Aldridge is a madman on the drums as always; his talents known to the rock community from his times in Ozzy to Whitesnake, and everything in between. Nothing is more mind-blowing than watching the man play the drums with his hands, yes, HIS HANDS! And no, it doesn't get any less amazing the more you see it.
Now to address naysayers that say David Coverdale’s voice isn’t quite like it once was (yes, I’m pointing at you social media Blabbermouth commenters who have nothing nice to say, please tell me whose voice is exactly the same after 40 years of singing?), he does a FANTASTIC job, and tastefully resigns himself from any screams or high notes that would cause any damage to his voice while still being the same David that we all know and love. For someone who’s career has been going full steam since the early 1970’s, DC has no signs of slowing down, and I'm already anticipating the next time I attend a Whitesnake show.
Finally, the headliner of the evening took the stage. Prior to the show, I didn’t really know what to expect from Foreigner with Mick Jones as the sole original member. But boy did the band absolutely blow me away. With the miraculous Kelly Hansen on vocals, one of the nicest guys in rock and roll Jeff Pilson on bass, Michael Bluestein on keyboards, Thom Gimbel and Bruce Watson on rhythm, Chris Frazier taking over the drums, and of course the one and only Mick Jones on lead, the show was a success.
The band opened up with ‘Long, Long Way From Home’ and were without a doubt filled with high energy right off the bat. The band played a variety of their biggest hits like ‘Double Vision’, ‘Cold As Ice’, ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’, ‘Head Games’ (my personal Foreigner favorite; I was singing the loudest to that one), ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’, and SO many more. Not only is a Foreigner a group that can pull numerous classics out of their catalog, their live show makes it all the more special.
I was so impressed and awestruck with vocalist Kelly Hansen who without a doubt fits the band like a glove. Known for his time in the band Hurricane in the 1980’s, Kelly is the absolute perfect replacement for original Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm. Although his voice holds the same range as Gramm’s, it’s still unique and original. Not only is his voice a perfect match for Foreigner’s catalog, he also has hilarious and relatable banter with the audience which only made him more likable to the crowd.
Another key player to the band for me personally is Jeff Pilson. Although I originally became a fan of his because of his time with Dokken, his work with Foreigner is truly amazing and as always he has INCREDIBLE energy throughout the entire show; from start to finish. Not to mention that he is one of the nicest people in the music biz that you could ever meet. (Look out for our interview, set to be posted VERY soon to the very site you're reading this on!)
And of course, there's Mick Jones, the player and creator of so many songs that we rock fans know and love. Although for a stretch of time there Jones was not a full-time active member of the band, he is now and he brings it onstage every single night. From playing the iconic riffs, to the touching song 'Starrider' in which he dedicated to his mother, Jones has still got it and truly brings the magic to the group that the original fans love.
All in all, the show was a BLAST. I left the show wanting the entire night to start over again, and plotting ways to somehow get to the tour's next stop. If you have any hesitation with seeing this tour, DON'T. Get out, buy a ticket, and see the show because you will not regret it.
I give this show 🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻!
Below are a list of the remaining dates for the 2018 Juke Box Heroes Tour:
7/03 — Raleigh, NC, PNC Music Pavilion
7/04 — Charlotte, NC, Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
7/06 — Nashville, TN, Ascend Amphitheater
7/07 — Alpharetta, GA, Verizon Amphitheatre
7/08 — Simpsonville, SC, Heritage Park Amphitheatre
7/10 — Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Blossom Music Center
7/11 — Chicago, IL, Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
7/13 — Noblesville, IN, Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center
7/15 — Clarkston, MI, DTE Energy Music Theatre
7/17 — Kansas City, MO, Starlight Theatre
7/18 — St. Louis, MO, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
7/20 — The Woodlands, TX, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
7/21 — Irving, TX, The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
7/24 — Denver, CO, Pepsi Center
7/25 — West Valley City, UT, Usana Amphitheater
7/27 — Auburn, WA, White River Amphitheatre
7/28 — Ridgefield, WA, Sunlight Supply Amphitheatre
7/31 — Chula Vista, CA, Mattress Firm Amphitheatre
8/01 — Irvine, CA, Five Point Amphitheater
Also, connect with the bands on social media:
JASON BONHAM - @jasonbonham
WHITESNAKE - @whitesnake
FOREIGNER - @foreignerlive