Foreigner: Live at the Rainbow '78 Blu-ray Review: On Their Way to Becoming Juke Box Heroes

The setlist is "Foreigner" in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from "Double Vision."
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Foreigner began as vocalist Lou Gramm, guitarist Mick Jones, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, drummer Dennis Elliott, keyboardist Al Greenwood and bassist Ed Gagliardi. Recorded on April 27, a year after their smash self-titled debut and about six weeks before the release of their second album, Live at the Rainbow '78 is a 75-minute concert film that spotlights a talented band on the rise. The setlist is Foreigner in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from Double Vision.

The band opens with a boisterous “Long, Long Way from Home” getting fans enthused right from the start. At song's end, the crowd can be heard cheering, but the picture is gone briefly. Appears to be a portion lost footage, which happens a couple other times, so there's nothing to worry about. On “I Need You,” Gagliardi and Jones trade licks, leading to a great solo by the latter. Jones then shares vocals on “Woman Oh Woman,” which is missing video during Jones's introduction.

Gramm introduces new song “Hot Blooded,” which would go on to reach #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as any discographer knows. This hard, loud rocker surely defied the “new song” tradition and kept folks in the theater rather than sending them to the bathroom and/or beer line. The tempo slows down on “The Damage Is Done” and the soulfulness of Gramm's voice shines through. Greenwood creates some wonderful space-age, prog-rock keyboards on “Cold as Ice.”

Continuing on that theme, Jones takes the lead vocal again on “Starrider.” McDonald's flute brings to mind The Moody Blues and Jethro Tull, but with Gramm's co-vocals and Jones's guitar, the song is unmistakably theirs, even though it's not a traditional-sounding Foreigner song. The extended coda allows different band members to show their talents. The second run on the flute segues into lead runs by Greenwood then Jones. Another wise choice for the second and last new song of the night is the title track, “Double Vision,” which did even better reaching #2.

After a strong performance of “Feels Like the First Time” closed out the main set, they came back for a three-song encore. Interestingly, these songs aren't well-known, so they were still finding their way with what connected best with audiences. But they were all certainly enjoyable. “Fool For You Anyone” is another slow soulful number.

Before and twice during the final song “Headknocker,” Elliott solos and the band implores the crowd to clap. Audience shouts can be heard and Gramm dominates with his cowbell during the first segment, but there's no clapping noise either time, which is odd and indicates some post-production trickery.

The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC displayed at an aspect ratio of 1.35:1. The color hues are solid, and the blacks are inky with minimal crush, which is understandable as the stage was lit more so for the concert. The focus is sharp than expected and film grain is evident.

The audio is availble in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and LPCM 2.0. The former is a much better experience. The music plays in all the speakers while the vocals are in the front. The instruments can be heard distinctly from one another and Gramm's vocals are balanced well in the mix. During “Headknocker,” Gramm spends a bit of time on a second set of drums, and the bass drum kick is particularly strong out the subwoofer.

Live at the Rainbow '78 is a must-own for Foreigner fans.

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