Foreigner rocks Ruth Eckerd Hall with the Dave Eggar Orchestra and Lakewood Ranch High Choir
Foreigner’s show on Sunday night was sold out to the brim at Ruth Eckerd. It was a special night for rock fans as they were treated to a special show with the Dave Eggar Orchestra and the Lakewood Ranch High School Chorus joining for the finale! Lead singer Kelly Hansen made the introductions and said that this is a limited orchestra concert series with only 8 shows. Clearwater was in for a treat!
An incredible intro by the orchestra, the band took the stage to Blue Morning, Blue Day and setlist of their biggest hits. The energy on the stage rubbing off to the audience was thunderous! Hansen’s stage antics are reminiscent of another high energy rocker, Steven Tyler. Hansen leaps across the stage, twirling mic stands and walking on seats up into the audience. The band settled down for a short acoustic set with “Say You Will” and “The Flame Still Burns”. Then the orchestra and the band were back in action with “Double Vision” which had everyone rocking. Guitarist Tom Gimbal also plays the iconic sax riffs on “Urgent” was keeping the momentum going.
Founding member and record producer Mick Jones, treated the audience to a stellar guitar solo. Jones is also the stepfather to one of today’s hottest producer/musicians Mark Ronson (Bruno Mars –Uptown Funk). A great band lineup of players, Wildman guitarist Jeff Pilson, formerly of Dokken and Dio is on hand. Former Big Country Canadian guitarist Bruce Watson rounds out the guitars. Mike Bluestein on keyboards also plays a Hammond B3 and works with Stevie Nicks. Drummer Chris Frazier has played with Steve Vai, Whitesnake and Eddie Money. Hot Blooded and Juke Box Heroes rounded out the setlist which by that time had the audience up out of their seats, against the stage as close as they could get.
Coming back for the encore, Kelly Hansen promises a special finish. The Lakewood Ranch High School Chorus comes to the stage to complete the ensemble and sing the melody of “I Want to Know What Love Is”. The audience all singing along to the band’s 1984 megahit that continues to be covered by many artists and is #479 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Songs. A great finish to a superb show!
Foreigner will be going out on the 2018 Jukebox Heroes Summer Tour with Whitesnake and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience starting June 15! Check it out at www.foreigneronline.com
Sarasota Post had the opportunity to interview Giselle Panagiotakis, the chorus teacher from Lakewood Ranch High School to find out how they came be in this exciting show with Foreigner!
SP: Giselle, how did it this happen that Lakewood Ranch High School Chorus performed with Foreigner?
GP: One of my students, Michael McKiephen, he listens to the radio station Eagle 107.3, and they were doing a contest that you submit a video of your choir to sing with Foreigner. They are really good but I didn’t know if we could win. We sent in a video and about a week before the show we got a call from Foreigner’s marketing manager John Latham, to say we had won! In addition to winning the gig, we got a $500 donation from Foreigner for our chorus program. We had 22 students that went. It was all very exciting!
SP: What was the rehearsal process?
GP: We were given the music and instructions from Foreigner and had a one 30 minute rehearsal because they are that good and that was all we needed. We did not rehearse with Foreigner.
SP: What was it like for the students once they got out on stage?
GP: We were all extremely excited and nervous as we waited backstage and then the doors opened for us to walk out onstage and we heard them singing the song, this was it! We walked onto the stage, all the cellphone lights and all the people were standing and singing. There were some women we met before the show who were in the front row and they started crying when we were singing. The students were just floored by it all and it was such a great experience!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography