September 21, 2014

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Foreigner concert at Lorain County Fair cut short by storms

Fans cheer as Foreigner lead singer Kelly Hansen runs into the crowd during the band’s concert at the Lorain County Fair on Tuesday evening. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Fans cheer as Foreigner lead singer Kelly Hansen runs into the crowd during the band’s concert at the Lorain County Fair on Tuesday evening. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

It was a “Hot Blooded,” albeit short, Lorain County Fair show Tuesday night when Foreigner rocked the packed-to-the-rafters grandstand in Wellington. Sadly, rain came less than 45 minutes into the show.

Even though original lead singer Lou Gramm is no longer a part of the band, the audience didn’t seem to care as long as the group kicked out one classic rock hit after another. That’s exactly what the outfit did with singer Kelly Hansen sounding just like group’s erstwhile frontman.

“We’re already sweating here,” Hansen said after the band performed its hit song “Head Games.” After making fun of people in the front section who were politely sitting, Hansen said, “Do you think you’ll be sitting the whole show? I’m just saying. This is a rock show, people.”

An early highlight included Hansen running into the crowd during “Cold as Ice.” After which, a panting singer said the group was going to slow it down with its iconic ’80s song “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” Embracing the heart-shaped tune were a few couples around the grandstand slow dancing while embarrassed kids and admiring adults looked on.

There’s no denying country concerts are popular at the fair; however, if Foreigner is any indication, fair officials may want to book more 1970s and ’80s rock bands. Then again, there aren’t that many groups touring fairgrounds instead of stadiums with a resume like Foreigner: more than 80 million records sold worldwide with10 multi-platinum albums and 16 Top 30 hits.

As for the packed audience, estimates put the crowd at more than 3,500 people.

“You know what, it’s one of the largest crowds I’ve seen,” said Wellington resident Ken Dumke, who has volunteered as an usher for the last decade. “Everybody is definitely rocking.”

Compared to the previous night’s headliner, country singer Thomas Rhett, who stretched out his material while having fun with the crowd, Foreigner was all business. Granted, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the crowd was into every power chord, howling vocal and thundering drum beat.

Here’s the thing about Foreigner, even though the group is lumped in with its classic rock brethren, the truth is the band has more memorable songs then perhaps they are given credit. Yes, the show was a night of greatest hits, but each tune was a home run.

Halfway through their set with storms rolling in, Foreigner came out to play an acoustic version of “Say You Will” before having to leave the stage — the band only ended up playing five songs, but stated its strong case for a future return trip to Ohio for possible induction into Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Contact John Benson at ndiffrence@att.net.

Check out our live social media coverage from the fair. Our comprehensive Fair coverage can be found here