Foreigner, Whitesnake and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening capped off a six-week run of dates together on Wednesday, August 1st. FivePoint Amphitheatre was the setting for the final show of what was dubbed the Juke Box Heroes Tour. The shared junket is presumably named after Foreigner’s iconic song about realizing one’s dreams of becoming a rock star, Jukebox Hero. With only a few exceptions, the performers who would populate the stage had virtually nothing to do with the selections in the proverbial Wurlitzer. Nonetheless, the three bands collectively formed an anthropomorphized jukebox which blared out hits from three different decades.
The sun is low in the sky from the back of the venue when Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening gets things started. With an orange glow cast on the stage, Bonham and company impart a nine song homage to the music his father created with some other guys with whom you may be familiar. The set starts with the Immigrant Song, with Jimmy Sakurai, guitar, leading the way with its tearing riff. Sakurai, a veteran tribute player, channels Jimmy Page’s playing and mannerisms as if Page himself is on the stage. However, JBLZE is not a tribute band. The other members make no attempt to impersonate the members of Zeppelin. James Dylan delivers the vocals with the appropriate attitude and captures the spirit of the lyrics. Dorian Heartsong, bass and Alex Howland, keyboards/guitar round out the quintet. The set focuses on the first five Zeppelin records. A particularly good rendition of Over the Hills and Far Away, with the band replicating a live version circa 1973 is an exceptional treat. The slot culminates with the epochal Stairway to Heaven. Although proficient, the set seems a bit uninspired but not disappointing.
As dusk descends on Irvine, David Coverdale and his current version of Whitesnake beset the stage. In true 80’s style, hair metal fashion, they blast into their performance. Their musical roster comes from just two albums, 1984’s Slide It In and 1987’s Whitesnake. Bad Boys leads into Give Me All Your Love to set the table. Coverdale manipulates his mic stand gloriously and sexually, befitting the lustful nature of most of their hits. After Love Ain’t No Stranger and Slow an’ Easy, guitarists Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach spar in a six-string pugilistic duet. Coverdale is notorious for surrounding himself with a tremendous supporting cast and the current lineup is no exception. Crying in the Rain is sandwiched in between the guitar duet, and a drum solo from three-time alum Tommy Aldridge. Aldridge’s double bass buzz-saw, percussive personality is on full display during his solo as well as throughout the entire set. Michael Devin, bass, provides the bump to Aldridge’s thump. Michele Luppi, keyboards, completes the sextet. They set the crowd reeling with the final three tunes. They play a rousing version of Slide It In, followed by Here I Go Again leading to a frenzied crescendo of Still of the Night.
Darkness has fully set in when the headliners plant their flag on the stage floor. Foreigner, sans Mick Jones, begin their set with Long, Long Way from Home. Vocalist Kelly Hansen bounces around the entire stage, playing to and exhorting the audience. Hansen faithfully recreates the lyrics of the classic songs throughout the presentation, while making them his own. Bruce Watson and Thom Gimbel handle guitar duties, Watson on lead, Gimbel on rhythm guitar. Gimbel also contributes saxophone on several numbers, including the opener. Double Vision and Head Games are next, with the latter featuring the adept playing of Chris Frazier on drums. Michael Bluestein, keyboards, plays them into Cold as Ice. After Waiting for a Girl Like You, the group grinds out Dirty White Boy. It is at this point that Jones joins the rest of the ensemble for Feels Like the First Time. Jones addresses the audience afterward, he jokes, “Sorry I’m late, I missed the bus.” Urgent, Starrider and Jukebox Hero complete the main set.
When Foreigner returns for an encore, they are eventually joined on stage by the Rosewood Elementary School Choir for I Want to Know What Love Is. The final number of the evening is maybe their most recognizable song, Hot Blooded. Making a cameo appearance on the drum kit for this tune is Jason Bonham, who toured with Foreigner for several years. It seems that the 10,000 or so in attendance still had some quarters in their possession and could have fed a few more into the coin slot, but holding to the old adage “always leave them wanting more,” the show, and the Juke Box Heroes tour comes to a conclusion. All three groups continue playing shows separately. Follow the links below to see about upcoming shows.