Foreigner brings rock energy to Silver Springs
Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 12:04 p.m.
Some rock 'n' roll fans - even the classic rock delegation - may write off Foreigner in the modern age. After all, the '70s and '80s supergroup is down to one original member, guitarist and co-founder Mick Jones.
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Silver Springs, 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Silver Springs
Park Admission: $24.99-$29.99
Information: 236-2121 or www.silversprings.com
But hold the cynicism. The revived Foreigner has been making the rounds on late night television, including "The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien." In November, they appeared on Howard Stern's satellite radio show.
The biggest factor keeping the multi-million-dollar-selling band relevant is contemporary gaming, as in Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Kids and teens are rediscovering rock from decades ago. Judging from the through-the-roof gaming sales, they dig it in a big way.
So with a new CD to push, modern-day Foreigner has a new platform for its hard-driving catalogue - "Hot Blooded," "Dirty White Boy," "Urgent," "Cold As Ice" and "Juke Box Hero." And teens attend concerts and often know every lyric, said bassist Jeff Pilson.
Foreigner fans now range from 8 to 80, he said. Thanks to the video games that allow kids to jam along with Foreigner songs, Pilson contends the younger fans "get it."
"They get the energy," said Pilson, who has played with many bands including Dokken and Dio.
Recent rock concerts at the park have drawn young fans for bands that originally rocked their parents and grandparents. Hundreds of kids and teens attended October's Original KISS Army concert, many painted in the KISS make-up their parents wore in the '70s and '80s.
Those young music fans, however, are a much different breed than fans who savored bands such as Foreigner on records and CDs. Modern music consumers soak up tunes in single doses, be it the Internet or games. And while that dents traditional CD sales, it also provides new windows onto old music and sends new faces to concerts, Pilson said.
"I would have never guessed live performances would be more popular than CDs, and CDs would be going by the wayside," he said.
But while many rockers, particularly those who made a living on album sales, bemoan the per-song download market, Pilson has rolled with it and is preparing for an even bigger digital "revolution."
In fact, he wants better-quality digital downloads, hoping for increased bandwidth that will produce "really fast and great-sounding downloads." The technology is there, he said. It just needs to filter into the consumer market.
"People are going to start hearing things that are really good. Sonically good. And that may inspire the next Nirvana or The Beatles. We're at a real low point for sound quality right now," he said, calling current MP3s "ear fatigue."
At Silver Springs, Foreigner will play much of its gold-and-platinum catalogue. But the band also will play some tunes from its latest CD, "Can't Slow Down." Asked how hard it is to warm long-time Foreigner fans to new music played by new members - including lead singer Kelly Hansen - Pilson said, "It's not as hard as you think. The new music is very Foreigner, and it's very good."
The park's concert series has been - and still is - predominantly country music, but the park has been throwing a few classic rock acts into the mix lately to attract a wider audience. Rock acts have included Eddie Money, Rick Springfield, 38 Special and Kansas, with '80s pop bands Loverboy and Starship still on the schedule this season.
So far, the shows have expanded the demographics at the park, said Brooks Jordan, Silver Springs' director of marketing.
They appeal to several generations, Jordan said, noting the Guitar Hero effect has contributed to that.
"We found that out with Kansas," he said.
But for local fans whose youth was fueled by a Foreigner soundtrack, Saturday's concert is a huge deal.
The show prompted Ocala's Dana NeSmith and her friends to buy season passes to Silver Springs. She said she has attended country music concerts there before, but she would like to see more rock concerts at the park.
Fellow Ocalan Stacey Verrico Dionne also bought season passes because of Saturday's concert. Additionally, she said, the Foreigner show will be the first concert she has ever attended at Silver Springs.
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