Live Review: Johnny Foreigner, Chameleon (20/10/12)

The Chameleon is one of those rare venues in which a small crowd can still feel like one of epic proportions. Hidden away from the main street, the upstairs venue contained not just die-hard Johnny Foreigner fans, but people who had never heard their music before. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was electric as Johnny Foreigner took to the stage for the final show of their UK tour.

The show started with Alexei Berrow singing the acoustic ‘Johnny Foreigner vs You’ from the back of the crowd, slowly making his way towards the stage, accompanied by overlapping vocals from Kelly Southern. Although Johnny Foreigner’s slow songs make for interesting listening, the crowd didn’t truly erupt until the band abruptly ended the song with crashing guitar chords, and went into their post-hardcore classic ‘Feels Like Summer’. Johnny Foreigner recently added another guitarist to their line up, and although most of the set was originally written for a three-piece, the extra guitar added to the chaotic intensity that they have mastered.

Their set list was split vastly over their past works. Ranging from tracks from new album ‘Johnny Foreigner vs Everything’, to old classics such as ‘Our Bipolar Friends’, and even showcasing new unreleased material from their upcoming ‘Names EP’. Whether the crowd knew the songs or not, the atmosphere created by the band’s entwining layers of instruments remained consistently high. Alexei and Kelly’s vocals harmonized perfectly on their slower songs, such as ‘New Street, You Can Take It’, whilst the crowd took over in unison on better known songs such as ‘Salt, Peppa and Spinderella’.

The band played together effortlessly, and engaged with the crowd in a way that may not have been possible in a larger venue. Johnny Foreigner left a lasting impression on the audience with their final song, ‘Absolute Balance’, in which Alexei’s shouting blended with the layers of guitar, bass and drum melodies. It is clear that no two performances on the tour have been exactly the same, and it is this spontaneity, rather than perfectionist playing, which makes the band so captivating to watch.

There is a clear distinction between seeing Johnny Foreigner live and simply listening to their music. Although good on record, the band’s energy and passion was amplified in their live performance, leaving the crowd yearning for more – even after the encore.

Regardless of whether the audience members had seen Johnny Foreigner before, listened to a few songs or had absolutely no idea who they were, they seemed united in their response – that the band, atmosphere, and venue, did not disappoint.

Sarah Dear

…Sarah has been listening to Tall Ships – Everything Touching…



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