Foreigner Brings A New Dimension To The SAC

Foreigner keyboardist Michael Bluestein and guitarists Bruce Watson and Thom Gimbel perform “I Want to Know What Love Is” with students form Olean Central School’s Select Chorus at Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino on Saturday. Photos by Chris Chapman

SALAMANCA — The crew at Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino have really stepped up their game for indoor concerts. Foreigner brought a new dimension to the Event Center when they played Saturday. To say it was a memorable show would be a vast understatement.

Some would say they were disappointed that not one of the members was officially an original to the band since founding member, Mick Jones didn’t make the trip, but the show was one that any fan of the band was bound to come away from loving the show they had just witnessed. Yeah, Thom Gimbel, dressed in black and a hat Stevie Ray Vaughn would have been proud of, held the longest tenure on the stage. He has been with the band since 1992.

Here’s the thing. The show was chock full of hits, performed by incredible musicians for a night that was filled with memories that date back as far as 1976 and new ones for some younger people in the center Saturday Night.

One of the highlights of the evening took place in the first encore, when 25 members of the Olean High School Select Chorus took to the stage with the band to sing the chorus of “I Want to Know What Love Is.” The chorus won a contest to have the honor of sining with the iconic classic rock band. Singer, Kelly Hansen, prefaced the song by asking that everyone put their arms around those next to them as a way to share the love that we all need to have. As the song ended and the Olean chorus was exiting the stage, Hansen asked those in the crowd to contact their local district superintendents and encourage them to continue to support the arts in schools.

A bit of an aside, if the curriculum was really thought out we should be encouraging STEAM in our school, not STEM. While industry is moving more to that science, technology, engineering, and math really fall short if we neglect art in education. If we cannot appreciate the beauty of art, be it visual or audible, none of the others really matter.

Throughout the night there was a marked difference in the way this audience responded to the musicians on stage. There was more of an interaction, more of a concert feel than in previous shows. The energy in the building started at a high level and continued to grow as the night went on. This is the kind of show that you get when you bring a solid, iconic rock act to the indoor venue of the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino Event Center.

What can you say about a group of seasoned musicians that have earned the right to tour under the name of Foreigner? If they weren’t solid musicians they wouldn’t be there. They have a songbook of hits that could provide for hours upon hours of great music that would be sung and danced to as long as they were on the stage. The 14 tunes they picked were the cream of the crop, and quite honestly did not fall short of the mark.

An arrangement form former Dokken bassist, Jeff Pilson really spotlighted the mastery of the musicians on stage. Being able to take an electric song into an acoustic arrangement is a lot like black and white photography. It shows the raw talent of the artist and exposes flaws to the world. Pilson took “Say You Will” and made it a artful piece, complete with a flute intro by Gimbel.

This band, even if it isn’t the original, gave the crowd a full show. From the 14 songs to the interaction of Hansen walking through the audience early in the show to Pilson giving audience members a chance to play his bass, and so much more, these guys made this show about so much more than music. AS Hansen asked for people to do, it was a night of memories, of creating new ones, and of reliving some great classic rock.

It was evident that the Standing Room Only crowd was enjoying the show. These are the acts that Seneca Gaming needs to keep coming into the Salamanca area. Foreigner proved that these shows will do well, and the quality of acts will draw. Hansen said it best when he asked how many in the crowd had lost money on the gaming floor and how many will be after the show.

“Your losses finance us being here,” he said. “That’s how places like this can afford to bring in acts like us.”

One thing would have made the show better, from the concert-goer view and from the casino side. The Event Center should be set up as more of a general admission venue for these shows. Not only does it open more tickets but the experience is more of a rock show for attendees. Put a few high top tables in the back and you have a great concert experience, much like was done when The Machine, a Pink Floyd tribute band, played in February of 2014. It’s more of an organic experience, and one that music lovers will enjoy even more for these rock shows.