Foreigner Live at the Rainbow ’78 is fun for a number of reasons – great audio, no-nonsense video and the band is on. Writing a review 41 years after the event does a number on one’s psyche …I caught the band live around ’85 for the Agent Provocateur tour or something with Joe Walsh solo opening. This video, two years in on their fame, is grittier and solid, the guitars crunching, Lou Gramm bolting out of the background to center stage for “Hot Blooded,” very energetic and capturing a time when they were rock stars heading towards superstardom. As the late great Allen Arrow, Esquire told me he and their manager, the late Bud Prager, brought Atlantic Records to a soundstage performance and the rest is history. Now that’s providing my memories are intact as Mr. Arrow represented this writer and his company back in 1986 or so.
Sure enough, Shukat Arrow Hafer Weber & Herbsman, L.L.P. is still the firm representing the group in the end credits for this film directed by Derek Burbidge, he of 1981’s Urgh! A Music War fame as well as videos for The Police, AC/DC, The Go-Go’s, Eurythmics, Queen along with the video Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75 and other delights, I’m quite sure. The direction is impactful with lots of cameras and the band in your face, a technique not employed in these days of quick cuts and bombast. Everything is very to the point, but still creative, a nice balance with a camera focusing on a shadow on the stage, a very nice effect. There are some hits here, “Hot Blooded,” “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” “Long, Long Way from Home” and “Double Vision,” though it is good to see the band performing other material from that era and they do it with finesse.
Perhaps it’s me, but the videos on YouTube that Eagle Vision put out as teasers seem a bit D.A. Pennebaker darker than the DVD, but it is 2:31 am in the morning as I continue to write this essay (less distractions at this hour, though this review’s been percolating all
day…)…it always astounded me that a director like Pennebaker (now 93 years of age…as of this writing, 4-4-19/4-5-19) could have something as bright and breathtaking as the Monterey Pop Festival and then go dark with Ziggy Stardust and Dylan’s Dont Look Back (no apostrophe please…) but what do I know? Pennebaker is legend, as are those films. Burbidge has fun with all the elements of this original core Foreigner playing to a packed house. You can catch the excitement off the audience (and there are shots from the perspective of those in attendance as well,) and the energy of the band enjoying themselves as they work hard churning out their hard rock sound. For a legendary hall like the Rainbow it’s still intimate enough and the exquisite camera work – exquisite not in a flamboyant way but that it captures the moment, is well utilized by the impressive editing. My only quibble, and I’ve always got a quibble, is that some interview footage from any point in time would have been appreciated along with this classic classic rock performance. 2:51 am. Now let me go finish my review of Shazam! that’s been a work in progress since April Fool’s day… 4/5/19 2:51 am
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.