at The Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL, USA, September 8, 2006

Kids going back to school traditionally marks summer’s end in the Midwestern States, as well as evenings growing progressively colder. On the night of September 8th, the air around the Chicago, Illinois, USA concert venue, the one with the long name “The Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island,” was a little hotter than normal due to a “Classic Rock” fest featuring the 70’s bands Styx and Foreigner. This venue, capable of holding 7,500 concert goers, is unique in this Midwest area. The venue is completely “open air” (contrary to the site’s name there is no pavilion) and the backdrop for the stage is the lovely, brightly lit, night time Chicago Skyline (breathtaking in its own right). Additionally, any amplified sound is directed across the encompassing waters, namely the Great Lake known as Lake Michigan. The whole facility is actually resting on an old, retired, and moderately small Chicago airport runway previously known as Meigs’ Field. Tonight’s crowd of approximately 3,700 in attendance consisted of, understandably, an older, rather mature and pretty harmless audience.


Kelly Hansen PicFirst up was Foreigner with leader and original member, guitarist, and co-founder Mick Jones at the helm of the 2005 revamped line-up. Oddly enough, this line-up has been touring for over a year, but has yet to produce a studio album. Thankfully, no one can tell the difference as these newest members do an excellent job of injecting a dose of adrenaline during Foreigner’s live set of “classics.” The gents providing the infusion are a group of well-known (to Metal Express Radio fans) 80’s “Hair Metal” greats, including vocalist Kelly Hansen (ex-Hurricane), bassist Jeff Pilson (most notably Dokken) and drummer Jason Bonham (Airrace, Bonham, Virgina Wolf).

Foreigner promptly started on time with a piped musical intro and immediately grabbed the audience’s attention by opening with a highly energetic version of “Double Vision.” It was immediately noticeable that Hansen and Pilson haven’t missed a beat and they might actually think they are still on stage with their respective 80’s bands … and that’s a good thing. The aging Mr. Jones was entertaining as well … switching between lead guitar, keyboard accompaniment, and some lead vocal duties.

The entire night, Hansen, sporting a “Dirty White Boy” T-shirt underneath his open, long-sleeve shirt, was raising his fists in air, posing, and performing varied microphone stand antics. Hansen seems to have the pomp and stance of a younger Steven Tyler … he was quite powerful; only straining slightly on “Waiting For A Girl Like You.” Jeff Pilson Pic
Mr. Pilson, on the other hand, was all over the stage all night; shoulder-length hair flying and head bangin’ at the speed of light (did someone tell Jeff this was a Helloween show?). He and Hansen were definitely an energetic and entertaining pair.

Highlights of the evening included “Say You Will” performed as an acoustic with hand-held percussion (tambourines, cow bells, and such) arrangement whereby even Jason Bonham came from behind his drum kit to stand in front, Three Tenors style, to assist on back-up vocals. Mick Jones sung “Starrider,” where he proclaimed this one was “for all the Moon Children” (of which he included himself as one). “Starrider” ended up in a entertaining Jones’-led “jam” with flute accompaniment by the multi-talented Tom Gimbel. Gimbel also earned a memorable performance as he played the saxophone on “Urgent” with an extended “sax” solo. Also worth mentioning was the musical score for “Jukebox Hero,” which included Chicago’s own Jeff Jacobs doing a bit of a keyboard solo, a strong Bonham drum presence, and an extended Jones solo all wrapped around a segment of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” … and more Bonham drum antics.

The only arguable mistake in this approximately 65-minute set was the decision to start the encores with a ballad via “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Sure, it elicits couples to dance closely to and fro’, but this is a Classic Rock Concert! Thank goodness they closed by, as Hansen put it … “Keeping it so hot!” with an energetic rendition of “Hot Blooded.” A good show with plenty of energy — worth seeing!

Double Vision * Head Games * Cold As Ice * Waiting For A Girl Like You * Say You Will * Starrider * Feels Like The First Time * Urgent * Jukebox Hero * Whole Lotta Love * Encores: * I Want To Know What Love Is * Hot Blooded


Styx was back home once again as the foundations for the band originally started in the Panozzo Brothers’ basement in the early 1970s. The Styx line-up on stage tonight contained the band members who appeared on their last release, Big Bang Theory, sadly no Dennis DeYoung still. The band’s entrance onto the stage was well-received, and the show sported a more sophisticated light show, with some nice bullseye-type light shadows. Definitely more than “back-up band” Foreigner had (or as good as a light show as a band can have at a mediocre facility such as The Charter One Pavilion).

Styx opened with “Blue Collar Man,” which is typically a powerhouse rocker, but for some reason, it felt like an inauspicious start. Shaw’s vocals just seemed slightly “off” in the beginning, and overall it felt like it took awhile for the band to hit their stride. “Grand Illusion” followed with the “theatrically” dressed keyboardist, Lawrence Gowan, doing a commendable job on vocals as an ever-present DeYoung “stand-in.” Actually, of all the Styx members, Gowan was the most entertaining! He entertained with a keyboard stand on a manually rotating platform and via impressive gymnastics like playing the keys with both hands behind his back! Gowan also did a commendable job singing the crowd favorite “Lady.”

Styx, it seems, has also bought into this current trend of Rock bands changing clothes (shirts more or less) between song sets, a la Cher In Las Vegas. Tommy Shaw did this the first time before breaking into “Lorelei” … to his credit, he did put on a sharp looking shirt with a skulls/roses design … very Rock ‘N’ Roll. “Lorelei” also included an entertaining keys/guitar duel. The only song appearing in tonight’s set from their latest release The Big Bang Theory (an album of covers) was “I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles, which was slightly lost on tonight’s crowd, even though several embraced reciting the “woo” before the “koo-koo-ka-choo.”

“Fooling Yourself” was introduced with the introduction of a “surprise guest” — the original bassist, Chicagoan Chuck Panozzo, taking over on bass and relegating Ricky Phillips to a six-string guitar. Chuck was well-received and acknowledged with a heartfelt response by his hometown crowd, and ended up showing up to play bass on and off the rest of the evening.

The “Metal Express Radio highlight” of this set, though, was the Hard Rock energy of the James “JY” Young led “Miss America.” James made sure that the crowd in attendance knew who the more “Metal” of the two guitarists were at this point, with a crisp guitar solo. It’s no secret that Styx rock the hardest on the songs sung by JY (e.g., “Half-Penny Two-Penny”).

The entire set clocked in at around 70 minutes, which seems light for a headliner. Perhaps some noise ordinance takes effect in Chicago for this Pavilion. The band ended with the up-tempo “Renegade,” which made the crowd happy. Unfortunately, for Styx fans, it was Foreigner who won this unacknowledged “battle of the classic bands” this night, just on pure energy alone. There’s no doubt that this act would have been more “special” if DeYoung were able to tour with them again, as it seems this thirty-six year old work horse might be losing some “steam.”

Blue Collar Man * Grand Illusion * Promises * Too Much Time On My Hands * Lady * Lorelei * I Am The Walrus * Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) * Miss America * Come Sail Away * Encores: * ? * Renegade


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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