Main Stage, July 24 2010

For many rock fans, for many years, the name Foreigner has been mentioned in a whisper and only then after a quick glance over the shoulder for good measure.

This is the band guilty secrets were made for. Responsible for many of AOR’s greatest anthems and, for an extended period, permanent fixtures in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, Mick Jones and co. found favour with millions of fans addicted to their FM radios and glossy magazines.

And so while it was no surprise to see one of the healthiest main stage crowds of the day gather to hear the classics belted out by ‘new boy’ Kelly Hansen it was a novel experience to stand alongside tattooed metal heads and foot-tapping progsters all singing every word of every hit.

Jones and Hansen have already discovered a certain chemistry which allows the latest incarnation of a fantastically accomplished band to pull off live shows on this scale with a certain aplomb. The latter chose to wear skin tight white jeans and prepare with the finest hair care products money can by in order to selflessly transport the masses to a period somewhere in the mid 80s. And it worked. Hansen’s fashion sense and soaring vocals were essential ingredients in creating the cheese fest that was Foreigner’s main stage triumph.

Cold As Ice was an early contender for tune of the weekend but new track Can’t Slow Down fitted in remarkably well alongside the chart-busting standards. Jones is clearly proud of his band’s latest album and although it lacks any consistency there are glimpses of Foreigner’s late 70s/early 80s vintage. Charting inside the US top 30 it’s already the band’s biggest commercial success for 23 years and for now it deserves the odd festival plug.

But nothing on that new record comes close to the fantastic Feels Like The First Time or the urbane Urgent – tracks of their time and yet still fresh enough to spark wild celebrations under the baking London sun. The sprawling, glorious rendition of Jukebox Hero reminded the masses that Foreigner were so much more than a made-for-FM radio money making machine but then the encore demonstrated why Jones and co. made an absolute fortune.

I Wanna Know What Love Is may be beyond the vocal range of most mere mortals but that didn’t stop the High Voltage debutants from attempting to hit the high notes in tandem with the impeccable Hansen.

And then came the youth choir. As if a smooth-as-honey set didn’t already belong on the latest Glee compilation, the addition of a bunch of smiling kids guaranteed more cheese than dairy farmer’s convention.

It was overblown, over-the-top and over too soon.