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Foreigner returns to Spokane: Fans have been waiting for group’s concert at Northern Quest

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 9, 2021

Already midway into their touring season after a year at home, the chart-topping musicians of Foreigner are thrilled to be getting back onstage and into the swing of things.

“When we kick into gear, we’re doing four to five shows a week,” keyboardist Michael Bluestein said. And, this year, they could be doing more as “with COVID makeup dates and everything, we still have a lot of ground to cover.”

Joined by glam metal artist Lita Ford, Foreigner headlines Northern Quest Resort & Casino at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. For Bluestein, transitioning from essentially living on the road to a whole year off wasn’t all bad. The extra time gave him plenty of space to get creative and have a little fun.

“It was kind of satisfying … switching gears and spending a lot of time in the studio, doing more livestreaming, learning a lot about technology and kind of getting the video and audio part of that down,” he said, explaining how he’s been able to concentrate more without having to squeeze his work in between concerts.

Bluestein has been able to write more solo work – including a parody single titled “Why Corona?” – and started a podcast with fellow band member Bruce Watson. “VIB: Very Important Beer” is available on YouTube.

Still, he was more than ready to get back on the road with the supergroup. The delta variant has threatened to “throw a curveball” into the band’s plans more than once, but so far, all of the members have managed to remain free of COVID-19.

“Of course, everyone in the band and crew is vaccinated, and we do biweekly COVID tests now while we’re on the road,” he said. “We’ve been hearing about other tours shutting down and other cancellations. So, it has felt like kind of an achievement to make it all the way through without anyone succumbing.”

Mick Jones, the band’s sole remaining founding member, has been especially careful. “It’s sort of touch and go with certain health concerns,” Bluestein said, cautiously optimistic, explaining that Jones has been able to join the band onstage more than once over the past couple of weeks. “We always love having him when we can, but you know it’s a little bit tenuous.”

Local choir to perform again

Returning to Spokane for the first time since their September 2019 concert at the Spokane County Interstate Fair, Foreigner will once again be joined by the East Valley High School Choir.

In 2019, the choir won the chance to perform with the band onstage after submitting an audition tape of Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is” to a KISS 98.1 contest.

This time around, the choir will perform a 10-minute a cappella medley of rock classics including “Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe, “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and “Any Way You Want It” and “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” by Journey. Since the pandemic forced their 2019-2020 school year to an abrupt end in March 2020, the students have suffered without music.

“We lost a lot of kids because we couldn’t sing last year, and the kids who came back were just so sad all the time,” East Valley High School Choir director Andrea LaPlante said. “I mean, they love to sing, and they want to be with their friends, but they really struggle to see the positive sometimes.”

The loss of singing on top of the isolation and fear made an already difficult time of life even harder for her students, LaPlante said, “but I’m always trying to help them.” After 18 months without singing together, the choir has hit the ground running with two weeks of intensive rehearsals before the date with Foreigner. The students will perform unmasked but socially distanced during the outdoor concert.

“It’s super fun music, and the kids really like it,” LaPlante said. Mostly juniors and seniors, the 25-student choir is full of anticipation. “We still have about 10 days to get it performance ready,” LaPlante said, keeping her fingers crossed for good luck. The 2019 concert was an optimistic start to a bleak school year, but LaPlante hopes this concert will be a step in a new and happier direction for her students.

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