Wantagh, NY (August 7, 2017)—Foreigner knows to raise the stakes, both onstage and behind the audio scenes as well. For most legacy acts, having three original members sit in—two of them for the first time in 37 years—would be more than enough pressure for one night. But when the group did just that at its recent July 20 show at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY, they took it even higher, because the gig marked the first time any major act had used Lectrosonics’ new M2 Duet IEM system live, as both singer Kelly Hansen and the group’s original belter, Lou Gramm, wore them while performing.
The band is currently making the rounds on its 40th anniversary tour, and the surprise reunion at Jones Beach saw the band joined by founding members Gramm, keyboardist Al Greenwood and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald for three songs—”Long, Long Way From Home,” “I Want to Know What Love Is” and “Hot Blooded.”
Longtime FOH engineer Brian Simon told Pro Sound News, “We all met in New Jersey at a rehearsal studio the day before the Jones Beach show. After the crew set up the entire backline and monitor rig, the original members worked together with our current lineup. We ran the three songs twice, and that was it—magic! It was seamless; after all that time apart, they all came together as if they never left the band. Unbelievable!”
The surprise appearance marked Gramm’s first appearance with the band in 14 years, while Greenwood and McDonald both left the group in 1980. By reteaming with guitarist/founding member Mick Jones—the only original member in the band’s current lineup—the show marked the reunion of four out of the six original members (original drummer Dennis Elliott briefly joined the band onstage in January, 2013, while bassist Ed Gagliardi died of cancer in 2014).
While the reunion was notable, so was the addition of the Lectrsonics M2 Duet IEMs. Monitoring is always a crucial factor, particularly for singers, so the swap to the new system was not a off-handed decision for the band or monitor engineer Harald Danker. “We never used the gear before and it was a high-profile gig,” said Simon. “We were a little nervous, but in the end, it worked out perfectly.” For Hansen, wearing the new IEMs may well have brought new meaning to singing “Feels Like The First Time.”
Notably, Foreigner are not endorsers of Lectrosonics, but the band has been using the company’s products for the last decade, starting with sax/guitar player Tom Gimbel. Since then, the group has bought more equipment over the years, to the point where nearly all the mics and guitar wireless systems on its stage are Lectrosonics (the Duet systems were on loan for the show). Helping ensure that the new IEMs assimilated smoothly into the production, Lectrosonics technical representative Howard Kaufman was on-hand to keep an eye on everything.
The tour’s audio production is being provided by Clair Global (Lititz, PA), which has outfitted the show with a sizable Cohesion CO-12 PA. “When I was given the demo last year in Lititz, I was told that what you put into the Cohesion PA will be what comes out—and boy, is that true,” said Simon. “It’s very smooth and natural, doesn’t color your mix and if you make an error, it will be heard. The system’s consistency from show to show has been amazing, and I’m also impressed by its overall size and output. I have headroom for days with clear and punchy output, all in a package that only takes up a half of a semi—my production manager loves that cost-effective bonus. I’ll be using the same package on our next tour.” A typical CO-12 hang for the tour is 12 boxes hung per side, although 16 were used per side at the Jones Beach Amphitheater for additional coverage.
While the PA may be new, Simon has his tried-and-true Avid VenueProfile console at the mix position. “I always mix on the Avid Profile with this artist; it’s like second nature for me now because I’m accustomed to the workflow and love the footprint. For the most part, I use only the Waves C6, H Delay, and the Doubler; all other dynamics or effects come from the Venue software. And by the way, we do not run any tracks, especially vocals—that’s all those guys.”
The current leg of Foreigner’s 40th anniversary tour runs through September, with extensive Canadian and UK legs in offing before year’s end.