published Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Longtime fans light up for Foreigner at Chattanooga's Riverbend Bend Festival

Foreigner lead singer Kelly Hansen sings "Double Vision" to the Saturday night Riverbend crowd from the Coca-Cola Stage.
Foreigner lead singer Kelly Hansen sings "Double Vision" to the Saturday night Riverbend crowd from the Coca-Cola Stage.
Photo by Tim Barber.
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Back in the day, DeWayne Finley and Wanda Crawford might have held up lighters at the end of a Foreigner concert.

Now there's an app for that.

"We got our phones with our lighters on them," said Finley, of Rock Spring, Ga. "You get a free app on the iPhone for that."

The couple came to Riverbend on Saturday night specifically to see the 36-year-old British-American rock band headline on the Coca-Cola stage.

"What other bands are there?" wondered Crawford, who sported a T-shirt featuring the cover of Foreigner's "Acoustique" album.

Hitting the stage on the dot of 9:30, the band blasted into "Double Vision," followed by "Head Games and "Cold as Ice" while the crowd roared approval.

Lead singer Kelly Hansen peered out from the Coke stage to say, "This is a very strange place for a band to play because you're so far away. You're going to have to be that much louder."

While Foreigner wasn't as big a draw as country heartthrob Eric Church, Friday night's opening act, the band takes the prize for endurance.

Foreigner's leader, Mick Jones, has been playing in Chattanooga since before Church was born.

Ron Lamberson was 17 when he first saw Foreigner in the late 1970s at Memorial Auditorium.

Lamberson no longer has a T-shirt from that concert.

"I couldn't fit into it," he joked Saturday night while watching Trampled Under Foot, a brother-and-sister blues act from Kansas City, Mo., perform on the Bud Light stage.

Oddly enough, Lamberson came to Riverbend with his friend and co-worker Mick Jones, a Chattanooga man who's originally from Liverpool, England.

"I'm not with Foreigner," Jones clarified as he admired Trampled Under Foot's lead singer and bass player, Danielle Schnebelen.

Though they're students at Cleveland High School, Emily Gibson and Aneisha Barber are very familiar with the Foreigner song "I Want to Know What Love is."

That's because they're among the 30 members of the school's Renaissance Show Choir, which was going to take the stage with Foreigner and sing back-up vocals on the rock anthem.

"I know of them just because of my dad," said Gibson, who's going into her senior year.

David Griffith also saw Foreigner at Memorial Auditorium in the late '70s.

"Probably about '78," said Griffith, who came to Riverbend with his son, Daniel.

The elder Griffith has shoulder-length curly hair, turning gray -- but that's not a style he's maintained since the glory days of stadium rock and roll.

"Mine was short then," he said with a laugh. "I don't know. It's a matter of progressing."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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