When you ante up for tickets to a concert on the Jukebox Heroes Tour, you should expect to hear more than a few big hits and familiar FM radio staples.
Fortunately, Foreigner and Whitesnake delivered the goods last night (July 10) at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, offering a slate of hard rock classics from the ‘80s that had fans singing in both the pavilion and out on the lawn. In fact, it was a pitch-perfect outdoor rock show on a midsummer’s evening—an old-school, nostalgia-charged soiree fronted by swaggering front men and scored by greasy, gritty electric guitarists with an abundance of flash and flair.
Here are five reasons you should check out the Jukebox Heroes Tour, too.
1. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening opens the show.
Drawing from the early Zeppelin platters (1969-1973), Jason and his gang tapped into papa John “Bonzo” Bonham’s percussive DNA on “Immigrant Song” (Led Zeppelin III), “Good Times Bad Times” (Led Zeppelin), and “The Ocean” (Houses of the Holy). The group went semi-acoustic on “Over the Hills and Far Away” and indulged a bit of psychedelia on “What Is and What Should Never Be,” but then cranked up the amps again for Led Zeppelin II mainstay “Whole Lotta Love.”
Between numbers, Jason thanked early birds for sharing in his Coda connection: “I always think, ‘Nobody’s going to come out at 7:00 pm!’ But you guys never let me down!”
Bonham’s guitarist, vocalist, and bassist evinced both the passion and precision of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones on Led Zeppelin IV classics “Rock and Roll” and “Stairway to Heaven,” architecting a sincere salute to hallowed Song Remains the Same quartet. Heck, the guitarist (in a tank top and flared pants) even looked a bit like a ’76-era Page, slouching to his left with his Les Paul slung low.
The audience commandeered the vocals on “Rock & Roll,” echoing the tune’s lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time refrain back to the band. Spectators relaxed during the first segments of finale “Stairway to Heaven” to absorb the magic, then pumped their fists and sang along to the extended guitar solo and outro.
All that glitters truly was gold for Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening in Ohio.
More on the drumming dynamo’s CV: Jason played for Jimmy Page on the guitarist’s 1988 release Outrider (and subsequent tour) when he was only 22 years of age. He also scored a minor hit—“Wait for You”—with his namesake band Bonham the following year, performed with Paul Rodgers (Bad Company) and Slash (Guns ‘n’ Roses) at Woodstock ’94, appeared in the Mark Wahlberg movie Rock Star in 2001, and formed a super-group with Ted Nugent and Scott Ian (Anthrax) on VH-1 reality show in 2006.
Just a chip off the ol’ Bonzo block, you might say.
Jason’s also toured with Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart: That’s him working the sticks on “Stairway” at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors. These days, Bonham can be found moonlighting with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony (Van Halen) in The Circle.
2. David Coverdale is still colorful, charismatic…and cheeky.
Vivacious vocalist David Coverdale was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 for his early ‘70s work in Deep Purple (Burn, Stormbringer). But most fans under fifty know Coverdale for his later work with Whitesnake, whose lascivious singles, bodacious ballads, and steamy MTV video clips added body and bounce to the “big hair” ‘80s.
Now in his mid-Sixties, Coverdale still oozes machismo on the microphone, belting soulful blues songs and arena anthems in his signature English rasp.
Coverdale is Whitesnake’s only remaining original member, but longtime drummer Tommy Aldridge still occupies the rostrum. The frizzy-haired baterista banged away for several minutes during “Crying in the Rain” (at one point whapping the skins and cymbals with only his hands) and bulldozed through “Bad Boys” and “Give Me All Your Love” with the stamina and strength of rock stars half his age.
Reb Beach (Winger) and Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger, TSO) now handle all those glorious guitar riffs recorded by Adrian Vandenberg, Steve Vai, Vivian Campbell, and Mick Moody. The tandem six-string sorcerers made certain that the crunchy, distorted chords and sizzling solos on “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and “Slow and Easy” were accurate (and intense) and that the arpeggios on “Is This Love?” were effervescent. They even engaged in a sort of guitar duel following “Slow an’ Easy,” bending their strings, tapping the frets, and tweaking their tremolos.
3. Singing along with songs from Whitesnake’s eponymous 1987 album never gets old.
A couple tracks from Whitesnake’s self-titled 1987 effort may have appeared in earlier versions on Saints & Sinners (1982)—but it’s those ribald remakes we remember. Coverdale and posse primed the Blossom crowd for their grand finale with the prurient “Slide It In,” then went unhinged on chart smashes “Here I Go Again” and “Still of the Night.”
It's also a blast singing along with Foreigner, who headlined last night.
4. For a forty-year-old band with only one original member, Foreigner still sounds pretty damn authentic.
Super-singer Lou Gramm (“Midnight Blue”) quit Foreigner decades ago, leaving the English-American group in the capable hands of guitarist/ songwriter/producer Mick Jones (formerly of Spooky Tooth). Other members absconded (or expired) over the decades, forcing Jones to enlist new recruits to replace the Foreigner fallen.
Rhythm guitarist/sax man Tom Gimbel’s been with the band on and off since the early ‘90s, and svelte singer Kelly Hansen’s been leading the charge on stage and in the studio (Can’t Slow Down) since 2005: You probably saw him singing Foreigner hits to elevator-riding office workers in the band’s popular TV commercial last year.
The others responsible for Foreigner’s beneficial blood transfusion include Jeff Pilson (bass), Chris Frazier (drums), Bruce Watson (guitar), and Michael Bluestein (keys), who conspired—Agent Provocateur-like—on opener “Long, Long Way from Home,” a dazzling “Double Vision,” and heated “Head Games.”
5. The dichotomy of old/new Foreigner is electric onstage.
Hansen sounds a lot like original Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm, which goes a long way in establishing and maintaining the illusion that it’s the late ‘70s / early ‘80s all over again, and that you’re back in your best friend’s room perusing the album sleeves for 4 and Records. Hansen moves like Jagger: His physical appearance and body language reference the Rolling Stones singer, and hints of Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) and Jeff Keith (Tesla) are apparent, too.
Not a bad combo for someone tasked with taking up so bright a torch.
Hansen wailed on “Dirty White Boy” and “Cold as Ice”—and even made his way into the crowd by stepping over the seats. Meanwhile, the mild-mannered, spiky-haired Jones traded riffs with Pilson and Watson on “Urgent” and “Feels Like the First Time.”
“Let’s hear it for forty more years!” roared Hansen.
The group saved titular track “Juke Box Hero” for the end, at which point they decorated the anthem with a drum solo and keyboard spotlight. The power ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is” made for a sublime sing-along, while send-off “Hot Blooded” sated classic rock revelers with its salacious “secret rendezvous” invite and Jones’ legendary guitar lick (which rapper Tone-Loc so famously sampled in 1989 with “Funky Cold Medina”).