It can be argued that few bands have stood the test of time as well as select bands from the 1980s—AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, and of course, Foreigner. The iconic band has been active since 1976, providing 80s anthems including “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Juke Box Hero,” “Cold As Ice,” and many more.
Having recently announced “The Historic Farewell Tour,” scheduled for the Summer of 2023 with Loverboy, it appears that Foreigner is closing up shop, with their recent stop in Fargo on May 10 being their last. Check out some recap photos from the event, along with a special Q&A with Michael Bluestein, Keyboardist of Foreigner, where we discuss his role in the band, what’s next for him, and more!
A Q&A with Michael Bluestein of Foreigner
Tell me a bit about how you became a full member of the band back in 2008.
In January of 2008, I was at a huge music convention out in California called NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), a big networking chain for musicians and vendors. It’s a fun weekend that’s filled with people who sell equipment and build guitars, drums, etc.
I ran into an old friend of mine that I’d worked with before, Paul Mirkovich. At the time, he was playing keyboard with Foreigner as an interim keyboardist/band member for the band, until he helped them find a replacement. When I ran into him, he said, “Oh, I’m glad to see you. I think you’d be perfect for this gig. Do you want to audition for Foreigner?” And I said, “Well, hell yeah.”
How much of a hand have you had in creating original music with the band? Do you guys still work on music?
We’re always kicking around some new ideas. It’s been a minute since any new music has come out, but we’ve got some ideas for singles and isolated tracks that everyone should stay tuned for.
Outside of Foreigner, what are some of the other musical act highlights that you’ve performed alongside in the past?
I played with and did a great tour with Boz Scaggs back in 2003. I’ve also played with Stevie Nicks and Enrique Iglesias. I’ve gotten to do some gigs with Burt Bacharach. I’ve gotten the chance to play with amazing people.
How was it performing with Stevie Nicks?
It was incredible. I mean, talk about a legend. She’s iconic, and for good reason. She was amazing.
I have to imagine the crowds are a bit different between Stevie Nicks and Enrique Iglesias. How is it changing between crowds?
It’s great. The crowds are always welcoming, no matter the demographics. It doesn’t matter the age-they’re going to show us a good time.
Did You Know?
Bluestein has performed an estimated 100 shows a year with Foreigner since joining in 2008. He guesses that he’s performed “well over 1,000 shows with the band” by now!
If you didn’t pursue the world of rock music and the road, what would you have done for a career instead?
I love composing and producing so maybe more stuff in the studio playing keyboards for other artists, or even working on my own stuff since that was a viable path and I still do that stuff. Or maybe composing for film and television, as I’ve done some of that too. As long as it’s in music, I’m happy.
If you got to compose any sort of TV or movie show, what would be your preferred genre?
I like indie films and stuff that’s a little more understated, as opposed to the big Hollywood blockbuster or Disney symphony. Those are great and fun, but I like moodier, more understated things, like a Wes Anderson or Coen brothers movie.
What’s your favorite song to perform with Foreigner on tour?
My favorite to perform is “Long, Long Way from Home.” It’s a really rockin’ high-energy tune with a great melody. some fun keyboard parts, and really haunting lyrics. It’s one of the staples, and we do that one at pretty much every stop.
Did You Know?
Michael Bluestein’s biggest musical inspirations in the rock genre include Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, and Elvis Costello.
How often do you guys change up the setlist on tour in different regions?
There’s a bit of change when we go to Europe. Anywhere overseas, there are some adjustments that are made. The encore can be a little different depending on the night and there tend to be one or two tunes that get switched out, but the bulk of the setlist is pretty much the same.
Who are some of your favorite bands to be on the road with alongside Foreigner?
We’ve toured with Cheap Trick and Styx, which were both amazing. We played with REO Speedwagon and did some shows with Heart a while back in New Zealand. I would say that some of those are some of the highlights.
Outside of the USA, what have been some of your favorite countries to perform in?
Denmark and Switzerland are real favorites of mine. South America really brings it out in a big way. [They] will start doing these crazy, exciting soccer chants. They’re pretty amazing. Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina…South America is pretty amazing in general.
Who would you say you’re inspired by outside of the rock genre?
Herbie Hancock is one of my favorites in the jazz and funk world without a doubt. I’m a huge jazz fan and absolutely love it. I would definitely be right at home in that genre as well.
Foreigner recently announced the farewell tour that’s scheduled for this summer. How did the team come to that decision? How do you feel about it?
We all had this feeling that after all these years on the road, it was time to wind down a little bit and spend more time at home with our families. The wear and tear of the road can get to you after a while, but we’re all feeling pretty good about that decision. Getting to spend a lot more time at home will be wonderful.
Did You Know?
Bluestein has a duo with his girlfriend in a project titled ‘Tina Blue.’ They’ve done some recording when Bluestein has found the time to be at home, and he produces for the act as well. Support their musical on all digital streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music!
What are your plans for after the farewell tour? Are you going to dial back yourself or do you want to work with other musical acts?
I’m looking forward to more time in the studio composing and producing, something that I’m pretty excited about. Sure, I’d be open to some touring, but it’ll be nice to be at home more often for sure.
What does that “at-home” life look like for you?
It’s a lot of time at the home studio, along with local performances, collaborating with local artists around Los Angeles and composing and producing.
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