Each week, Val Haller, a music-obsessed baby boomer and the founder of the Web site Valslist.com, matches tracks from her generation to those of her 20-something sons’ generation.
I remember it clearly, the summer of 2009: U2 was on tour, coming through Chicago to play at Soldier Field Stadium, home of the Chicago Bears. Everyone knew it would sell out right away. Although I love Bono’s Irish rock band U2, what I really wanted to see was their opening act, the Irish rock band Snow Patrol. When I realized that I had to be out of town on the two nights they were playing, I was crushed. In the months before the concert I did my best to keep the “other” act from getting lost in the U2 frenzy. I warned friend after friend, “You must get to the stadium early, don’t delay, definitely plan to catch the opener.” They looked at me as if I were crazy, but at least this once, I was not.
You probably remember many of their songs: “Feels Like the First Time;” “Cold as Ice”; “Urgent”; and “Long, Long Way From Home.” Foreigner covered lots of ground in a range of rock tempos: the slow yearning of “Waiting for a Girl Like You”; the angsty “I Want to Know What Love Is” and the up-tempo drive of “Hot Blooded.” Foreigner was formed in 1976 by the British musicians Mick Jones and Ian McDonald along with the American singer Lou Gramm. Their debut album, “Foreigner,” was released in March 1977 (my sophomore year of college, a time when music “sticks” in the brain for a lifetime) and sold more than four million albums in the United States, staying in the Top 20 for a year. Their second album, “Double Vision” (1978), did even better, and the next, “Head Games” in 1978, continued the trend. Altogether they have produced 10 multiplatinum albums, each including hit songs you probably know the lyrics to. The Web site Bio described the band’s appeal: “With veteran rocker Mick Jones at its helm, the success of Foreigner’s brand of arena rock proved that audiences craved a solid middle ground between the harsh nature of punk and the optimistic sounds of disco.”
Over the years the band’s lineup has changed, and Mr. Jones and Mr. Gramm put out solo albums in the late 1980s. But they’re back again and touring this summer, including shows on June 14 at Citi Field in Queens and June 15 at the Grand at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. Do you think the new lead vocalist Kelly Hansen evokes Lou Gramm? Listen here.
If you keep up with new music, you have probably heard of our featured band, Snow Patrol. If you haven’t, I suggest you go to iTunes or Spotify and listen to their “Greatest Hits” album, released just last week. It features 14 tracks of moody rock music that sounds just as good on your iPod as it does in an arena setting. From the slow, strong anthem “Run” to the faster “Called Out in the Dark,” and faster yet “Chocolate,” Snow Patrol is what I would call listenable loud rock. At full volume it won’t frazzle your nerves. The group started in the mid 1990s but began to make a name for themselves when they signed with the major label Polydor Records in 2002 and released their album, “Final Straw.” Their 2006 album, “Eyes Open,” has sold more than 10 million albums. The New York Times’s Nate Chinen writes: “Snow Patrol, a five-piece group from Northern Ireland by way of Glasgow, Scotland, transmits its distress signals and exhortations on much the same wavelength as Coldplay and U2, but with more humility and less theatrics. Gary Lightbody, the group’s perfectly named frontman, sings in an appealingly low-gloss croon, soft but clear and believably vulnerable.” Special bonus suggestion: Pick up Snow Patrol’s “Greatest Hits” album for a Father’s Day gift that you’ll enjoy too.
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