OUT IN THE CROWD: After 4 years on tour, Foreigner shows what love is

Special Photo. Lead singer Kelly Hansen, front, will perform at Wild Bill's tonight with the British-American band Foreigner.

Special Photo. Lead singer Kelly Hansen, front, will perform at Wild Bill's tonight with the British-American band Foreigner.

Kelly Hansen said Foreigner has been touring almost nonstop since 2005.

Hansen joined the current lineup of the British-American rock band, which got its start in the mid-1970s, that same year.

"I think when this lineup came together in 2005 there was really something rare and magic about it and it really took off," said Hansen, lead singer for the six-member group. "The response we got was unbelievable immediately. The demand for the band to perform live was overwhelming."

Since then, Foreigner -- whose hits include "Hot Blooded," "Jukebox Hero" and "I Want to Know What Love Is" -- has performed in more than 40 countries, playing Russia for the first time ever just this year.

An almost nonstop tour schedule left little time for the band to do much more than perform.

"We finally were able to put our foot down and say, 'Listen, we finally need to take the time to do a new CD,'" Hansen said.

The band's first full-length CD in about 14 years and the first with Hansen as lead singer -- the recently released "Can't Slow Down" -- was written and recorded mostly while the band was on tour.

"We were in hotel rooms and tour buses," Hansen said. "Any place you can imagine, we were writing and recording this CD."

The three-disc package includes 13 new songs, 10 remixes of Foreigner classics and a DVD of live performances.

"Just wanting to show the craziness and the chaos of how we've been living," Hansen said of the live features.

Foreigner's current tour includes a stop in Gwinnett. Hansen, the band's founder Mick Jones and the remaining members will play Wild Bill's in Duluth tonight.

"I think (the audience is) gonna hear a lot of the classics they expect to hear," Hansen said of the show. "Might be a new song or two in there, a couple of surprises. It's going to be fun for us because it's going to be a more intimate show. We like to interact with the audience and have a good time."

Hansen said the band's performances typically go on a little longer than planned.

"There's already too many hits for us to play live," he said. "We always struggle with what songs we're going to leave out already. It's just too difficult. There are songs you just can't leave out."

Drawing from a catalog of songs spanning nine studio albums, Hansen said fans can expect to hear hits such as "Jukebox Hero," "I Want to Know What Love Is," "Hot Blooded," "Head Games" and "Double Vision."

"You have to do all those," he said.

And if the title of its latest album is any indication, the band has no plans to slow down.

"We've got so much to do," Hansen said. "There's a constant evolution and constant moving forward of things to do."

Saturday's show

Wild Bill's will still be rocking Saturday night with a slightly different sound.

Rising country star Jake Owen, a nominee for the Country Music Association's 2009 New Artist of the Year award, will perform in Duluth.

Opening for Owen on Saturday night will be Atlanta resident Tyler Reeve, who has known Owen since they attended college at Florida State.

"Jake and I have similar shows," Reeve said. "It's kind of a party, a good time."

The 28-year-old Reeve, who first picked up at guitar at 13 or 14, has a raw sound rooted in Texas country.

"A lot of people ask me where I got that kind of talent," he said, "being the fact that I'm originally from Alabama. I was just raised on that kind of music and it's the kind of music I play."

Saturday's concert is slated to kick off at 9:30 p.m.

Sunday symphony

The Ludwig Symphony Orchestra will open its 12th season with a "Beethoven Fall Fiesta" on Sunday at the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center.

The 80 piece orchestra is led by Thomas Ludwig, former music director for the New York City Symphony and resident conductor for the American Ballet Theatre.

The concert will feature violin soloist Bin Huang performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto, tenor Timothy Harper and 8-year-old pianist Kimberly Guan-Ting Lin playing Mozart Concerto No. 20.

The orchestra will also present the world premiere of Symphony No. 3, composed by Ludwig. The piece was commissioned by Peggy Espinda, a local patron of the orchestra, in honor of her mother.

"I have worked on it for five years and it is gigantic in scale and expresses a wide range of emotions," Ludwig said.

The final movement in the composition was inspired by the death of a young soldier who was serving in Fallujah, Iraq, and left behind a wife and children.

"This sacrifice made me think of what would have been in his mind before he went out on patrol and so the movement begins peacefully as he thinks of his family and then progresses to the point where he has to mount up on the tank and begin a firefight," Ludwig said. "I use two sets of large kettledrums on either side of the stage to give a dynamic effect."

Admission to Sunday's concert is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. For more information, call 770-623-8623 or visit www.ludwigsymphony.org.