When Foreigner takes the Grandstand stage at the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Wednesday, it will feel like the first time. That’s appropriate considering it will be the group’s first show at the fair and first in Spokane since August 2014.
Formed under the vision of British guitarist Mick Jones, the group has remained a force of rock radio since its self-titled debut in 1977, much to the credit of backseat anthems like “Feels Like the First Time” and the 1984 No. 1 smash “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
Plus, any fan of 1985’s coming-of-age drama “Vision Quest,” starring Matthew Modine (and filmed exclusively in Spokane), will recognize “Hot Blooded” from the film’s soundtrack, which also features Madonna and Journey on an album that’s as definitively ’80s as anything could be.
Moving forward from the band’s early riff-verse-chorus-riff construction, the songwriting chemistry between Jones and lead singer Lou Gramm progressed into ballads like “Waiting for a Girl Like You” that routinely shot onto the charts and legitimized the band as a stadium-rock staple of the early ’80s.
And similar to stadium-rock peers, the outfit has grappled with lineup changes, diverse sonic directions and the task of affirming how a band with roots in the 1970s and prominence in the ’80s can thrive in 2019.
Speaking of the audiences Foreigner attracts, Jones told Forbes in 2018, “Sometimes you look out there, and it looks like it could be 1977.
“Kids are really getting into stuff that their parents liked, and you get kids at the show, right down to the ages of 10, 11, who are singing all the lyrics to all the songs. It’s uncanny. But I love it. To me, it proves we did something valid, which just doesn’t get pigeonholed too much. And that we wrote some great songs together.”
Not to mention the band’s latest release, “Live at the Rainbow ’78,” which reintroduces the group on the brink of stardom, armed with those same great songs that the radio would turn into legend.
Today, Foreigner owns 16 Top 30 hits and has sold upward of 75 million albums worldwide, with nearly 7 million monthly Spotify listeners.
Despite the lack of a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction (Foreigner has been eligible since 2002), the fans are nowhere close to forgetting the band’s impact.
Reminders can be found all over rock stations and the local choirs, including one from East Valley High School, which jumped at the chance to accompany them for “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
And Foreigner is still hot blooded after all these years.
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