|Foreigner - 25 All Access Tonight|
|Written by Jeff Fish|
|Tuesday, 21 October 2003|
I’m trying to find a nice way of putting this … I felt bad watching this disc. It’s visually uninspired and sonically boring. While I know these are all professional musicians and they’ve all made a really nice career in Foreigner, I think it’s about time to give it up. I thought I was watching someone’s home movies. Isn’t this supposed to be a celebration of 25 years in rock music? And that is something to really celebrate, 25 years in any business is great achievement, but 25 years in rock is truly special. How many bands get to do that – and this is what they’ve come up with? To come clean with you, Foreigner was never a band that I cared much for, but I always did respect their talent and their songwriting. Lou Gramm’s vocals were always the high point for me personally in the band and on this DVD they are just not there.
Every song (or so it seemed) was dropped a key or two, since Gramm cannot hit any of the notes that were present on their earlier recordings, not anywhere close. If you want to hear him belt out “Jukebox Hero” like the old days, pull out an old recording. I believe that he had throat surgery several years ago. If he did, then please excuse this review, but I can only review this DVD, not something I might have read somewhere. But I really thought I was watching a club band after a while, not one of the biggest bands of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Visually, this disc is like watching a bootleg, although it is not as grainy as some bootlegs I’ve seen, but just a really an amateurish video production. Most of the concert scenes are a montage of several performances, which in itself isn’t a bad thing (in fact, I generally like it), but the audio to video registration is pretty poor and the amount of concert scenes jumping around doesn’t really give you any continuity at all.
There are several scenes on this disc that take place away from the stage: the band checking into their hotel at 3:30 AM (why?), Gramm and Mick Jones talking with an interviewer from Mexico City and going over the band’s history, which for big Foreigner fans I imagine would be good thing, and a backstage slice of life, with Denny Carmassi being pretty damn funny. But an anniversary disc should be all about the music, and this is not. The band plays all right but not great by any stretch of the imagination, pretty much like I remember them back in the early ‘80s. They’ve always played it safe musically, in my eyes, and this disc does nothing to dispel that notion. Maybe they should have really done some serious rearrangements to compensate for the vocals. There are a couple of extended guitar solos by Jones, but other than that it is just like the original recordings.
I’ve had a hard time doing this review because I don’t like ragging on a band (except for bands like Journey or Kiss), but I really don’t understand the releasing of this disc. I would have rather watched a concert from Foreigner’s heyday this. My wife had only one reaction to watching this disc: she thought it was kind of sad. There is one recommendation that I would give this disc, though. If you’re in a band and you’re a screamer, then watch this. See what can happen if you don’t use your voice properly. But this review really comes down to, what do you want to see – a disc of a band that is well past its prime or the same band in a concert that happened 20 years ago? I’ll take the 20 years ago personally, since this disc makes me feel like I’m watching a club band, and one that I don’t think does itself justice. To be honest, the best part of the band here is the rhythm section of Bruce Turgon and Denny Carmassi. They have a real nice groove to them and they play well together. The rest of the players are mediocre to good. Is that enough? I don’t think so.
The best performance on the disc is the bonus track of “I Want To Know What Love Is” from A Night of the Proms in Belgium. This is a performance from 2002 where Gramm and Jones are backed by an orchestra and chorus that really brings this song to life. That song has always had a great feel to it and this version of it is a real nice addition for any fan of Foreigner’s music. But for the rest of the disc and my overall review, I can’t say that I would recommend this disc, except maybe to the hardcore fan. The performances aren’t what I would expect from a band that has been around this long with that much success. It’s like I wrote earlier, I feel bad writing this review. I would have rather watched old concert footage instead. Sorry …