The people of Ukraine are feeling the love from a rock show on the Strip.
Foreigner has returned to The Venetian Theatre, debuting its updated “Best of Foreigner 4 Live” production Friday night. The band is teaming with American Red Cross Ukrainian relief efforts by donating $5,000 from each show through April 9. Add to that take from Friday’s show was an auction of eight signed guitars the Red Cross sold for $1,000 apiece. Our fast math says it was a $13,000 haul on opening night.
Lead singer Kelly Hansen is personally touched by the ongoing Russian invasion in the country.
“My wife (professional photographer Anna Hansen) is from Poland, and she knows people in the area, and we’re very much seeing what’s going on and exploring personal ways we can help people,” Hansen said in a phone chat Saturday afternoon. “But this was a really great way for the Foreigner entity itself to do something. And so, I am really happy with the turnout we got last night and how we’re continuing to support and spread the message.”
Hansen was in peak vocal condition in Friday’s show, and the band album-worthy versions of such classic-rock anthems as “Head Games,” “Cold as Ice,” Waiting For a Girl Like You” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
Coming out of COVID, Hansen found he needed to return more than his vocal conditioning.
“I had to get videotapes and review the show, because I couldn’t remember all of the nuances,” Hansen said. “There’s myriad things that I do and say, and there’s blocking and places you have to go. There’s 100 things that have to be thought about during the show, not to mention the singing.”
And singing Foreigner’s hits is also a mental and physical challenge.
“I had all of the songs set up on my home studio, but without lead vocals,” Hansen said. “I had stereo mixes I could sing to, and would slowly warm up and sing just one or two songs a day. I would sing to the easiest songs and then go, that’s it. I’m going to really take it easy.”
But there are no truly “easy” songs in the Foreigner arsenal.
“I kind of just went through the set list, and ‘Double Vision’ is one of the easier songs, ‘Dirty White Boy’ is one of the easier songs,” Hansen said. “I’m not saying they’re easy, they are all challenging songs. But it took me a while to work up to ‘Urgent’ and ‘Juke Box Hero, things like that.”
The current show picks over the band’s best-selling album, “Foreigner 4,” released in 1981. The show also marks the album’s 40th anniversary.
Foreigner’s co-founder Mick Jones, the last original member still touring with the band, makes something of a theatrical entrance deep into the show.
We really wanted to really create some fanfare about him coming on and playing,” Hansen said. “It’s not only well-earned, but I think it’s a great addition to what we’re doing, especially in Vegas.”
The outdoor, acrobatic circus production “Ignite” is returning to Sandy Valley Ranch on April 22, 23 and 24. The event begins with a 5 p.m. sunset social in the event courtyard, with the performance from 8 p.m.-9:30, continuing on with a fireside social (lotta social activity being ignited) and then an afterparty for 21-and-over guests. Former “Zumanity” artist Brandon Pereyda is back in his Axel hosting role, with creative directors Sandi Croft, Alexis Ochin, and Amanda Boursain. Tickets are $65 for bleacher seats, running up to $1,000 for the weekend for a VIP bell tent and premium (or, hay bale) seating up front. Tickets are at ignitenv.com.
TONY HSIEH MOVIE HERE
Cool Hang Alert
Column fave and Vegas lounge icon Ronnie Rose is back at Gilley’s at Treasure Island on from 7-10 p.m. Sunday. Rose gets his country on, and is even bringing a new original, to the dance hall. No cover, and Rose is a blast.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.