The Soundtrack of Summer (Foreigner, Styx & Don Felder)

The Zoo Amphitheater
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

May 16, 2014

By Jeb Wright

Don Felder Set List:
Already Gone | One of These Nights | You Don't Have Me | Those Shoes | Seven Bridges Road | Witchy Woman | Heartache Tonight |The Long Run | Life in the Fast Lane | Hotel California

Styx Set List:
The Grand Illusion | Too Much Time on My Hands | Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) | Lady | Light Up | Crystal Ball | Superstars | Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) | You Can't Always Get What You Want / Live and Let Die / Bohemian Rhapsody/Come Sail Away

Rockin' the Paradise | Renegade

Foreigner Set List:
Double Vision | Head Games |Cold as Ice | Waiting for a Girl Like You | Feels Like the First Time | Urgent | Starrider | Juke Box Hero

I Want to Know What Love Is | Hot Blooded

The Soundtrack of Summer is a hit-playing machine that is on the road touring America throughout the summer of 2014.  Iconic rockers Foreigner, Styx and Don Felder are celebrating the music they helped create that changed the landscape of rock and roll during the 1970s and ‘80s. 

Under the stars in Oklahoma City the three groups performed 30 songs, each and every one a classic, to an appreciative audience.  This performance, only the second show of the tour, saw each band happy to be on stage sharing their craft with a crowd that ranged in age from seven to seventy! 

Every band delivered solid performances.  The sound was great and the attitude of the crowd spoke volumes as to America’s love affair with Classic Rock. They were all there to enjoy great music and have a good time. 

These songs help people both forget their current day stresses and, at the same time, bring the past to life once again.  For those who lived during the time these songs were created, it is a true dip into the waters of Ponce de Leon.  For the younger members of the audience, it is a rare chance for them to touch rock and roll history.  They get to see these songs live and understand first hand why this music is so damned important to the generations that came before them.

On this night, the award for best performance goes to Don Felder.  Even though he did not include his massive solo hit “Heavy Metal,” Felder had the audience eating out of his hand as he fed them hit after classic hit.

“Those Shoes” featured two talk boxes on stage creating a wah-wah wall of sound.  “Seven Bridges Road” featured harmonies not heard since Felder was a member of the Eagles.  “Already Gone,” “One of These Nights” and “Witchy Woman” brought back the classic early ‘70s Eagles vibe while “Heartache Tonight” and “The Long Run” were happy numbers that had people dancing in the aisles.  “Life in the Fast Lane” provided some guitar heroics, yet it was Felder’s greatest achievement, “Hotel California,” that brought the house down.  Joined by Tommy Shaw of Styx on both vocals and guitar, the song is a larger-than-life testament to the power of the musical era these bands represent. 

Once Felder left the stage it was time for Styx to step up to the rock and roll plate.  Styx has built a solid live reputation over the years, and the crowd’s expectations were high. 

Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young have been doing this so long they could put on a great show in their sleep.  To be honest, that was part of the only negative aspect of their set.  Despite throwing in some cool tunes that don’t always make the set-list, like “Superstars” from The Grand Illusion, “Light Up” from Equinox and “Rockin’ the Paradise” from Paradise Theater, Tommy and JY just seemed less into it than other concerts I have witnessed in the past.  It was still a great performance, with a killer light show, and perhaps it was the band just getting the cobwebs worked out on the second night of the tour, but something was missing from these two guitar legends of rock.

The rest of the band, however, was on fire.  Drummer Todd Sucherman is an outstanding talent the drives the mood of the songs.  Bassist Ricky Phillips is a groove oriented player who stays true to the original intent of the song, yet is confident enough to throw in a few runs that grab the listener’s attention. 

Keyboardist and vocalist Lawrence Gowan was, on this night, the star of the show.  His delivery, stage presence and raw talent made him the focal point of the set.  He slung out the Dennis DeYoung penned tunes like he owned them.  He showed power when needed on songs like “The Grand Illusion” and “Come Sail Away” and he showed grace on songs like “Lady.” 

One of the highlights of the evening was when he took the stage solo and performed a call-and-response piece with the audience that included snippets of the iconic classic rock tunes “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” by the Rolling Stones, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and “Live and Let Die” by Wings. Finally, he set the crowd up by going into the chorus of the Styx classic “Come Sail Away.”  He worked it backwards to the opening piano segment and the band slowly joined him onstage. 

Gowan is an amazing artist and performer, and while he may not be an original member, he is real enough in his musical persona. Styx ended their encore with the rocker “Renegade,” leaving the crowd happy and energized. 

What happened next was confusing and perplexing to those in the know.  Foreigner took the stage without their founding, and only original member, guitarist Mick Jones. The band performed three tunes, all major hits, “Double Vision,” “Head Games” and “Cold as Ice” with Jones nowhere to be found.

The lack of an original member onstage created a feeling, from an audience perspective, that this performance was not so much a tribute to Foreigner, but more like a Broadway adaptation of the band’s sound and live performance.

Before the fourth song began, vocalist Kelly Hansen introduced Jones to the crowd who took the stage to thunderous applause.  From that moment on, the band rocked the house and Jones played and sounded like a man half his age—although at this stage of his career he may want to replace the skin-tight white trousers. 

When Jones took the microphone and performed “Starrider” something special happened… The band simply hit this one out of the park. While Don Felder was the best overall act of the night, and Lawrence Gowan from Styx was the best individual performer of the night, this song was the best performed tune of the night. 

A funkier and slicker version of the classic “Jukebox Hero” ended the main set on a high note.  The band preformed a two-song encore that consisted of the poppy ballad “I Want to Know What Love Is” which featured an 8th Grade choir from an Oklahoma school and the red hot “Hot Blooded.” 

At the end of the day, The Soundtrack of Summer can best be described as a fun show performed in a family-friendly environment.  The bands play the songs, and the crowd dances and sings along. 

A drawback of fitting three acts in such a short time frame is that it is hard for musicians to get overly excited about playing shorter sets.  At times one wonders if this is as much about the celebration of music as it is about earning money for their retirement accounts. That said, the concert was still a great evening of family fun and entertainment, which one must admit is, in and of itself, kinda weird. Why?

Back in the day, none of these bands were on the family fun circuit.  They were edgy and dangerous.  Rock concerts were about partying and living outside the accepted bounds of society. This was a time of coming together, where partiers could let their freak flags fly, drink beer and fire-up something illegal.  It was the perfect mix of raising a middle finger to the establishment, hanging out with like-minded friends and acting cooler than you were, all the while showing your independence with a cocky walk or a sexy strut. We were trying to give neighboring counties a contact-high. Back then, this type of event was not intended to be a family fun outing. In fact, it was the antithesis of ‘family fun’.  

The main difference between this concert and one performed by these very bands many years ago, is the scent of ripened nostalgia that fills one’s nostrils with its aging stench. Longing for the good old days will never replace the actual good old days but, regardless of the ravages time puts upon us all, it  still can’t take away the tunes and what they mean to us, the fans.  

No matter how much we may wanna go back and do it all over again… we can’t go back, we know.  Instead, we are resigned to sing “Come Sail Away” at the top of our lungs, and for that moment…that very second…the older fans find themselves back in the 1970s, while the younger ones fantasize what it must have been like to live way back when, or where the corndog stand is.

At moments, such as these, that stinging stench of nostalgia, the constant mental reminder that our prime-time has passed us by and is gone forever smells, sounds and even tastes oh-so sweet.  And that, my friends, is the secret behind The Soundtrack of Summer. 

Long live rock and roll!