The British-American rock band Foreigner, formed in the late 70s, is still going strong in the 2000s.
The group, known for hits such as ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ and ‘Urgent’, are in the middle of a two-week Las Vegas residency with their show ‘The Best of Foreigner 4 Live’, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their best-selling album, “4”.
They are touring Europe in May and will open for Kid Rock on 15 dates this summer, according to the promoter.
The band is scheduled to play Monday, April 11 at the Abraham Chavez Theater. Prior to the concert, Foreigner keyboardist Michael Bluestein spoke to The El Paso Times about his career with the band and what El Pasoans can expect to hear during the show.
Q&A with foreign keyboardist Michael Bluestein
Q: How did you join Foreigner?
A: I was lucky enough to audition in early 2008. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity. He has a great musical heritage. When I got the gig, I was with Enrique Iglesias at the time. It suited me better, although Enrique’s concert was fun. As a kid in the 70s, I was well aware of the music (and was a fan). It was everywhere.
Q: Do you still have original members playing with the band?
A: We still have Mick Jones. He was there with us (during a recent residency) in Vegas, but he can’t do all the shows. There have been health issues from time to time, but he is always there with us. He is the founder of the band and wrote most of the tracks and produced the albums.
Q: Does that make you one of the youngest members of the band?
A: I am the second youngest. I am 52 years old. Our newest member, (guitarist) Luis Maldonado, is 48 years old. He is now the baby of the group.
Q: What was it like coming in as a new guy and working with Jones, knowing that he was the founder of the band?
A: As with any new job, you prove yourself and want to make sure you’re doing a good job and people are happy. There was part of that. There is a real legacy of amazing tracks and I wanted to do them justice and provide the musicality and precision they need.
But now I certainly feel comfortable with my position in the group. I’ve been with the band for 14 years and we’re like a real family now.
Q: What about Foreigner which has stood the test of time in terms of music?
A: I think the combination of factors – well crafted songs that are memorable and are great melodies with great guitars, keyboard hooks. They get stuck in people’s heads, with great singing…people have great memories surrounding them. They want to revisit this period of their life. They want to go back in time and find that.
Q: Are there certain songs you have to play or a certain way of pleasing the fans? What can you expect to hear in El Paso?
A: We really need to nail down the essential parts. I mean, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” has its theme keyboard synthesizer and it really needs to be nailed – it’s a big hook. There’s a lot of that stuff that needs to be played with precision, verbatim sometimes.
But then there’s room for some expression and individuality, solos or a kind of jam sections of songs where there’s room for improvisation.
It’s also a mixture of playing them as people remember them with a certain spontaneity.
We sort of have the happy problem of having too many hits to fit in one set. At the top of my head (people want to hear) “Urgent”, “Cool”, “Cold as ice”, “It feels like the first time”, “I want to know what love is” .
Q: Tell us about any new musical project.
A: In 2009 we released “Can’t Slow Down”, which was the last full album of original material. We’ve added a few singles to the compilations and there are a few new releases in the works that people can look forward to in the future.
Ultimately, we want to try new things that are still identifiable as foreign and not a carbon copy, but can go hand in hand or accompany this legacy of pieces.
María Cortés González can be reached at 915-546-6150; [email protected]; @EPTMaria on Twitter.
When: 8 p.m. Monday April 11
Or: Abraham Chavez Theater, 1 Civic Center Plaza
Admission: Tickets range from $49 to $129, plus fees, available at ticketmaster.com