Carlos Santana may be getting old, but guitars do not age and he still rocks!
Back in May The Lovely Anna and I had occasion to visit Las Vegas scouting locations for the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Weekend, and while there we saw the 80’s rock band Foreigner perform at the Green Valley Ranch Resort.¬¨‚Ä† Last night, Anna and some girlfriends was Foreigner again with Journey and Night Ranger here in St. Paul… 80’s rock flashback.
When I Facebooked about seeing Foreigner, I got a few comments about how it’s not the “real” Foreigner since original lead singer Lou Gramm was not touring with the band. Likewise, Journey is touring without Steve Perry. Both have young guys who sound just like their predecessors on lead vocals. Many people feel like this is a rip-off…that it’s just a money-grab and the fans are getting cheated without the full line-up on stage.
Well, or course it’s a money-grab… but that doesn’t mean it also isn’t better for the fans.
Let’s face it, the only people who really want to see bands like Journey and Foreigner perform are fans of their classic rock music… they are not reaching out to a new generation of fans with new songs. Both those bands have new albums out, and both did a few numbers from those albums, but in both cases the crowd was silenced and just looked around blinking at one another thinking “what the $%$#@ is this?” until it was over and they went into another of their classics. That’s what these fans want to hear, and in most cases they wouldn’t be hearing it if the original lead singers would be up there trying to belt it out.
Unlike guitars, bass’s, drums and such, voices are instruments that do not last, especially those being abused singing rock music. Few 70’s- 80’s singers can still hit the same notes with the same ferocity now that they are 60-plus years old. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith comes to mind, but not many others. The crowds want to hear the songs the way they remember them… it would be sad to hear some 63 year old geezer up there either butchering the songs or singing it differently to cover up their aging vocals. Steve Perry is rumored to be unable to sing at all anymore due to health issues. I doubt Lou Gramm would be half as energetic and spot-on as the young guy who sang in his place when we saw Foreigner. Mick Jones, the band’s lead guitarist, stood like a statue in silk pajamas during the show, but he brought it on the guitar and sounded as good as he ever has. He’s lucky… his instrument doesn’t age. I saw AC/DC a year or so ago, and Brian Johnson‘s voice was in rough shape. He had to alter the songs so he didn’t have to hit some of the tougher notes. Still fun to see but…
Yes, I’d prefer to have the original lineup there and hear them all playing together… if they were still in their 30’s. This way, with younger lead singers who can hit all the notes with gusto, the crowds get to hear what they want to hear and still see most of the band they remember. In many cases the original lead singers don’t want to participate anyway… so this is as close as you are going to get to the classic bands.
They should skip the new material, though. They’ve already done 80’s rock as good as it will ever be done… who needs another album?
630 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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