Foreigner: Jukebox heroes bring tour to Fraze

Michael Bluestein first discovered Foreigner as a pre-teen in Massachusetts but since 2008 he has been keyboardist for the chart-topping group, performing at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Tuesday, Aug. 17. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Michael Bluestein first discovered Foreigner as a pre-teen in Massachusetts but since 2008 he has been keyboardist for the chart-topping group, performing at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Tuesday, Aug. 17. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Local groups Stranger, Eleventh Hour to open show

Foreigner keyboardist Michael Bluestein recently shared a childhood anecdote involving the music of the chart-topping group, returning to Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Tuesday, Aug. 17. The concert features local openers Stranger and Eleventh Hour.

“I grew up in Massachusetts and there was this pizza chain on the East Coast called Papa Gino’s,” he said. “They used to have the little ‘50s-diner-style-jukeboxes and I have this memory of sitting there with my mom and brother and playing ‘Hot Blooded.’ I remember ‘Cold As Ice,’ ‘Long, Long Way From Home’ and ‘Double Vision’ so those songs were out there.”

ExploreSummer lineup for Rose Music Center and Fraze Pavilion

Since 2008, Bluestein has been one of the jukebox heroes taking the stage night after night alongside bandleader Mick Jones to deliver indelible hits like “Hot Blooded,” “Urgent,” “Cold As Ice,” “Double Vision” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.” However, after having the coronavirus sideline its tour in March 2020, Foreigner returned cautiously to the stage in the spring.

“Yeah, we got back on the horse again with four shows down in Florida in May,” Bluestein said. “The first ones back were in Orlando. It was an outdoor venue but people had their own boxed seating, sort of in their own pods. They weren’t separated by glass or anything but there was a distance between them.

Then, we did a couple others in Florida where they sold shows in a limited capacity,” he continued. “I’m hoping that’s behind us now but we’ll see what happens with this delta variant going on. We have to monitor that, of course, but for the most part, since then, we’ve been doing fuller capacity shows.”

Foreigner returned to non-distanced shows in June. The band’s tour, which began in earnest in late July, has more than 120 dates stretching into 2022 and includes shows in 16 countries. According to Bluestein, the audiences so far are eager for live music after the long COVID-19 drought.

ExploreJohnny Mathis coming to Schuster: ‘I am very happy to be going back to work’

“People are hungry,” he said. “If you take something away from people for a while, they want it bad. We’ve always had pretty enthusiastic crowds but I think it’s been up a notch. It’s been missing from people’s lives, and it’s so great to finally be able to deliver that again and give some people relief from this seclusion, social distancing and the alone time that was too much for most of us.”

When he’s not focused on Foreigner, Bluestein works with vocalist Tina Terry in the group Tina Blue and also composes music for television and film. With these outlets, he was able to stretch his creative muscles during the shutdowns. Like many musicians, he also explored the world of livestreaming.

“I really worked hard on getting my whole audio and video thing going from my home studio with the livestreams during the pandemic,” Bluestein said. “People were really hungry for that. A lot of bands showed up and were super appreciative about being able to have some musical connection. However limited, it did fill the void, somewhat. We made a lot of progress and we had some great performances. We did what I thought looked and sounded great but no matter how good it is, there’s this other dimension that isn’t there.

“You can’t replace that feeling of the energy of all these people, shoulder to shoulder, having the same experience in a room,” Bluestein continued. “They’re seeing and hearing the musicians feeding off each other’s energy and that feedback loop that happens between the performer and the audience isn’t going to happen on a live show on YouTube or Facebook. The comment section doesn’t provide that kind of energy.”

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Foreigner with local openers Stranger and Eleventh Hour

Where: Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17

Cost: $45-$65 in advance, $50-$70 day of show. VIP package is $250

More info: 937-296-3300 or www.fraze.com

Artist info: www.foreigneronline.com