As Foreigner prepares for Grand Forks concert, singer Kelly Hansen says getting back on the road has been a long time coming
Foreigner started with a few small shows to “make sure the gears were greased” before embarking on a months-long tour that will run into 2022.
After taking a hiatus in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, legendary rock band Foreigner is set to bring a catalog of chart-topping hits to the Grand Forks Alerus Center on Sept. 9 . For Kelly Hansen, the band’s lead singer since 2005, they’re more than ready to get back on the road.
Now firmly ensconced in a six-week leg of the band’s U.S. tour, Hansen spoke with the Grand Forks Herald about getting back on the road, the fans and what it takes to perform at a high level.
“It came to a point where we said it's time, it's time for us to try to get out there and see if we can do it,” said Hansen. “So far, it’s been going really, really well.”
The band, performers of songs including the worldwide hits “I Want To Know What Love Is,” “Cold As Ice” and “Hot Blooded,” among numerous other radio-friendly hits, got together at the end of February to shake off the dust. The members started with a few small shows to “make sure the gears were greased,” Hansen said, before embarking on a months-long tour that will run into 2022, when they head to Europe.
And much like the band members, concertgoers have been waiting for more than a year to get back in the stands.
“The crowds have been awesome,” Hansen said. “I think that there is a real feeling of genuine fun and relief, being able to go out and go to a live show and see a live band, and have a good time.”
The band is setting a grueling pace during “The Greatest Hits of Foreigner” tour, with shows nearly every other day. Grand Forks appears to be a lucky stop on the tour -- ticket-holders can expect a refreshed group of musicians, as they will have had more than a week off from a previous date in Connecticut.
Hansen, 60, said it gets a little more difficult each year to maintain a pace that sees the band play more than 100 dates a year. In 2006, they played 140 shows, which he admits was too much. They tend to hover around 110 shows every year, still a heavy workload when stuffed into an eight-month time frame. Taking care of his health is paramount, he said, as is his voice.
“Well, I try to limit the number of interviews,” laughed Hansen.
But on a more serious note, he tries not to speak a single word on off days, in order to protect his voice. That, eating well and taking care of his body gives him the stamina to stay on the road, and be able to deliver a solid performance. That's the priority, he said.
“I want to do this at my highest level possible,” he said. “I really care about doing a good job, and so you do have to go to some lengths to make that happen.”
Foreigner was founded in 1976 by guitarist Mick Jones, along with his fellow British countrymen Ian McDonald and Dennis Elliott. Americans Lou Gramm, Alan Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi rounded out the band, which has gone through several lineup changes over the years.
Jones is the only original member who remains in the band, but has been dealing with health issues. His appearance on tour isn’t a guarantee, and he performs at about 50% of their live dates, according to the band’s publicist, John Lappen.
Hansen said it’s a delight to tour with Foreigner’s current lineup. Everyone gets along, and “there's no ego issues or problems” that get in the way of performing.
With Jones and Hansen, the band is made up of bass guitarist Jeff Pilson (of rock band Dokken), Michael Bluestein on keyboards, Bruce Watson and Luis Maldonado on guitar and Chris Frazier on drums.
Foreigner has had 16 Top 30 hits, which still receive regular airplay at radio stations around the country, and the band's videos have hit over 400 million clicks on YouTube. The band has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide.
The band will play the Alerus Center at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9. Tickets start at $36.50 plus fees, though prices may fluctuate, and can be purchased at aleruscenter.com , at the Alerus Center’s box office, or at ticketmaster.com , pepperentertainment.com , and outbackpresents.com . VIP packages are available at www.ForeignerOnline.com .
Information about COVID-19 mitigation measures can be found at pepperentertainment.com/covid-19 .