Concert Reports



06/09/2019, Vina Robles Amphitheatre, Paso Robles

Foreigner sets Paso Robles On Fire ! Band invades Vina Robles Amphitheatre to a Sold Out Crowd & Triple Digit Temperatures as they play their legendary hits!


All Photos / Interview: Ray Soto


Foreigner brought their electrifying live show to Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles and were greeted by a Hot Blooded Sold Out Crowd who braved triple digit temperatures to cheer on the band who represents the soundtrack to many a person’s youth. The setlist was stacked with nothing but hits as the band tore through iconic tunes that had the ready to party crowd standing and dancing from the first note. “Double Vison,” “Head Games,” “Dirty White Boy” were scorching live representations of classics from the current lineup that features Kelly Hansen on Vocals, Jeff Pilson on Bass, Bruce Watson on Lead Guitar and rounded out by Tom Gimbel – Flute, Rhythm Guitar, Saxophone, Michael Bluestein – Keys, and Chris Frazier on Drums. “Cold As Ice” saw singer Hansen hop off stage to run up to the lawn seats to high five people.


The Chemistry of the lineup now comes across as fluid and fun as they effortlessly engage the crowd in participation only veteran musicians can accomplish. “We’re great friends and have a lot of fun together,” Bassist Jeff Pilson told us pre show. “The chemistry is incredible both personally and the way we listen to one another,” the Bassist added. Read the complete interview below.


“Feels Like The First Time,” “Urgent”, and “Juke Box Hero” kept the thousands in attendance singing along as if they were Rockstars themselves as the band demonstrated a genuine connection to the fans from the first row to those in the lawn seats up top.


The first encore “I Want to Know What Love Is” had an emotional introduction when singer Kelly Hansen instructed everyone to give the person next to them a hug, even though they were complete strangers. The song featured the Paso Robles High School Choir being brought out on stage to lend their talent to the chorus.


“Hot Blooded” fittingly ended the show in a massive sing a long on this Hot Summer Night at Vina Robles.




We sat down with Foreigner Bassist Jeff Pilson before the show to talk about his career, past bands & everything Foreigner



You have a storied career in the Music Industry, was there a certain event or personality that inspired you to pursue music?


Jeff Pilson: Yea, I think seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan when they first came over. I was very young but I was very impressionable as well and I think that impression really stuck with me even though I didn’t start playing for a few years later, but it made a big impact on me.


Tell us about your early bands after moving west to San Francisco leading up to how you joined Dokken


Jeff Pilson: Well, when I moved to San Francisco I ended up playing with a guy by the name of Mike Varney who had a Rock Opera going on with Marty Balin from Starship and so they brought me in and we did a record for EMI, this would be 1980. Before I left San Francisco I was playing with a guy by the name of Randy Hansen and we had a band where Randy would sing and write half, and I would sing and write the other half. We were having a good old time and everything was great but then the whole thing just, everything shifted musically. We were a little bit fusion and a little bit progressive, this is when everybody was doing the skinny ties and The Knack and that kind of thing. We couldn’t get a record deal so then I ended up moving to L.A. and Mike Varney, the guy that I was in Cinema with was also very known as connecting musicians throughout the country. So Don Dokken called him and asked if he knew of a sing Bass Player and I had just moved to L.A. so it worked out perfect.


Jeff's Side Project: The End Machine


Tooth & Nail ( 1984 ), Under Lock & Key ( 1985 ) & Back For The Attack ( 1987 ) were all Certified Platinum for Dokken and you were co writer on most hits ( Alone Again, Just Got Lucky, In My Dreams, The Hunter ) where did songwriting inspiration come from back then for those great songs


Jeff Pilson: I’ve just always kinda been into music so I think it’s just natural and especially George (Lynch) and I had a really natural chemistry back then, well we still do (Laughs), we would just start playing and things would just start happening, it felt magical, it really did. Some of the lyrics had certain things that were inspired by them but back then it was more about just the communication that we had musically and it really worked.



The 80’s were such a carefree magical time that will never be again, what are some memorable moments not only with Dokken but of the decade that stand out for you?


Jeff Pilson: Well, it was really a lot of fun, (Laughs) there was a lot of bad habits going on too. But the truth is there was a lot of really fun friendships, and it was just very fun. We didn’t take the world as seriously and it was just a lot of fun, we were having as much fun as the audience were (Laughs) sometimes more, sometimes too much. It was really good, a little disconnected from reality perhaps but still is was just a lot of fun. It was really exciting as everybody started kinda getting established and getting their careers going, it was very, very exciting to watch and you felt like you were part of a scene and that’s a great feeling, that was a really powerful thing.


In the 90’s you worked with a variety of musicians including Ronnie James Dio ( Strange Highways 1994, Angry Machines 1996 ) & Craig Goldy, ( Insufficient Therapy, issued on Shrapnel Records in 1993 )how hard was it to adapt to the 90’s after the 80’s and what do you attribute your success in transitioning where others could not


Jeff Pilson: Well, you know it was a challenge when the 90’s started rolling around because you know, the phone stopped ringing and things were kind of cold for a while there. But you know, I took that as an opportunity to just get back into my craft, and I fell in love with playing Bass again. Especially when I joined Dio, I really fell in love with playing Bass again. We had so much fun playing, we kinda just ignored everything and just made music and enjoyed doing that. That was my solution for taking care of that supposedly not being hip anymore or whatever. And then sure enough, with time things roll around and things comes back and Rock Music, what is now Classic Rock had opportunities again so you just kinda ride it out by staying true to your principals and the music you love. You cant worry about the trends you gotta just do what you can in the meantime and then when it’s your time it will roll around again.


In 2001 you made your acting debut in Rock Star and even reunited with George Lynch for a short time ( Lynch/Pilson, releasing the album Wicked Underground in 2003 ) and also Mick Brown ( Tooth & Nail, later shortened to T & N in 2011 ) then came the invitation to join Foreigner, tell us about the circumstances of that ( benefit show for Muscular Dystrophy on July 25, 2004, in Santa Barbara, CA at Fess Parker's Doubletree Resort ) were you a fan of the band growing up & did they influence you in any way?


Jeff Pilson: It was really fun, I had only known Mick (Jones) a week at that point. We rehearsed for a week, it was very, very enjoyable. There was a lot of really powerful chemistry that happened from the minute we started playing. I think especially Jason (Bonham) and Mick (Jones) and I had a real something rhythmically that was just really special. It just felt like, I mean you knew the songs were great but I hadn’t ever appreciated how great Mick was on guitar until I really started playing with him. I mean, I really always thought he was great but then when we would jam together and do things like that you really get an intimate feel for somebody and I just fell in love with it. So even that very first show you could really tell this has got something.



Were you a fan of the band growing up & did they influence you in any way?


Jeff Pilson: Oh sure, I was in cover bands that did Foreigner songs. By the time it came to bands like Dokken, we were very influenced by Foreigner because you had Hard Rock with strong melodies and big choruses, that’s what we were going for. It was a little heavier a few years later but it was the same principle, so yeah I was always a fan.


Mick Jones brought a fantastic group of musicians together to carry on the songs of Foreigner, tell us about the chemistry in the band & what are some of the highlights for yourself through the years being in the band?


Jeff Pilson: Well, the chemistry is something… we really worked and refined it because there have been personnel changes over the years. But now this lineup has stayed consistent for seven years now and it’s really, really strong. I think we fine tuned it and now the chemistry is incredible both personally and the way we listen to one another. We’re great friends and have a lot of fun together, I mean, this is a very intense experience. You’re really close to people a lot, if you didn’t have that comaraderie it could go south really fast (Laughs), and we’re really fortunate and part of our choosing this chemistry was knowing that we could survive because the plan was always we were going to be hard and heavy for several years and that’s what we’re doing and we got the right people to do it with.



Cant Slow Down (The first two singles from the album, "When It Comes to Love" and "In Pieces" both reached the Top 20 ) Foreigner’s last studio record was released in 2009, do you foresee any new Foreigner music released in the future?


Jeff Pilson: There will be new Foreigner Music, I don’t foresee a whole record of new material anytime soon just because we’re a year round touring machine. It was really difficult to make Cant Slow Down, it nearly drove everybody to exhaustion because we were still touring, it was really crazy. What I do see is what we’ve done in the last couple years where we put out a package that will include a couple of new songs in it. That seems to really work, that way it keeps it fresh, keeps us relevant in a way. It’s not the market anymore for a whole new record, it’s just not. I wish it was but it is more about the live thing and then if you introduce and sprinkle some new stuff in there and keep it fresh and interesting I think it’s the best of both worlds and that’s what we plan on doing.


Tell us about your project The End Machine


Jeff Pilson: Actually George Lynch asked me, he was asked by Frontiers Records to do a project for Jack Russell, the original singer from Great White, I guess it was going to be a solo record or something and so George called me up and asked if I wanted to write with him and maybe record. So we started writing and then very quickly the whole Jack Russell thing fell apart, I don’t even know whatever happened to be honest with you (Laughs), I don’t know if I’ll ever know but Frontiers was already into us doing something at that point so then they suggested getting Mick Brown (Dokken Drummer), so we called Mick and he was interested and then the suggestion was made to get Robert Mason who sings for Warrant and I had just done a Warrant record a couple years before so I knew how great Robert was. I knew he had a great voice, I knew he was a great writer and I knew he had a great work ethic. So once the combination was there we just did the material and it just flowed, and it was smooth and fun and we’re so excited about the reaction it got from everybody. We’re very lucky it’s gotten a great launch.



Of all the many shows you have performed over the years, do any stand out for you personally?


Jeff Pilson: Well, if you’re going to ask me that question the first thing that’s going to come to mind is the show that we did in late 2007 where we opened for Led Zeppelin at the O2 Arena when they did their reunion show for the Ahmet Ertegun thing. The show was actually a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun and Ahmet Ertegun’s favorite song was “I Want To Know What Love is,” so that’s why we played. It ended up being so consumed by the whole Zeppelin thing once they agreed to do it, but we got to play right before them and it was just a really magical night Zeppelin were really on it. Poor Jason (Bonham) was so nervous before the show, he was just so nervous but he went out there and I was so incredibly proud of him, he just played so great, and they were great that night. It’s funny because Robert Plant had come around to some shows a few weeks before that because we were in the U.K. for a while. I think he was a little bit like….he wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, he wasn’t sure it was going to be great but he was amazing that night and it was just really heartwarming to see.


Plans for the rest of the year & Final words for your fans?


Jeff Pilson: Hopefully people still keep investigating The End Machine, I do have a project early next year coming out with Reb Beach of Whitesnake, Robin McCauley from McCauley/Schenker, and then Matt Starr who drums with Ace Frehley. That is recorded, I should start hearing mixes soon and that’s going to come out sometime in 2020, and it’s a phenomenal record, it just came out amazing. I can’t tell you the name of the band yet but it’s really great. Foreigner keep doing shows, kinda like tonight for a while then we head to Europe for a month and do Festivals over there, come back in August and September and do stuff like this and then in October we have four shows with the original band, we call them the “Then and Now” shows where we go up and do some songs and the original band goes up and does some songs, then all of us get together on stage at the end to perform. It’s really amazing so there’s four of those shows in October.

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