Starship, Foreigner entertain night two of the Missouri State Fair


(SEDALIA, Mo., – Night two at the Pepsi Grandstand contained quite a different crowd from the first night. The crowd for Starship with Mickey Thomas and Foreigner was made up of middle-aged men and women, with silver showing in their hair.

There were still plenty of cowboy hats and rugged boots to be found, but the audience was predominately men with polo shirts and shorts or button-downs tucked into jeans, and women wearing blouses and capri pants.

There was rain throughout the day and I expected the track area to be a swamp. As I made my way down, there was a distinct scent to the air. I couldn’t tell if it was manure or something else, but later found out it was the smell of wood shavings the State Fair grounds crew laid on top of the mud to make it less messy.

Starship, formed by Mickey Thomas after Jefferson Starship disbanded in the 1990s, opened the evening with the intro to one of their famous hits, “White Rabbit.” My attention automatically snapped to the stage because the band brought so much energy. I clearly didn’t have proper expectations; I figured it would be dull because the band is from my parents’ generation. Although the weather was a clear distraction, the rain subsided and the band was surprisingly good.

“I’m glad we were able to play, the sky looked kind of weird,” said Phil Bennett, keyboard player and background vocalist for Starship. “We were able to play, kind of short, so we played the hits and people really appreciated it.”

The band closed their set with an extended version of “We Built This City” and the crowd was on their feet clapping, cheering and singing along.

Between 10 and 15 roadies cleared the stage and set up for Foreigner. Fans were still trickling in and taking their seats both on the track and in the grandstand area. I saw more polos and button downs, and more cleavage of middle-aged women than I should have, but as the evening went on the beer vendors sold tray after tray of beverages to those in attendance. A couple giant beach balls began bouncing around the crowd.

As the opening chords of “Double Vision” sounded throughout the Pepsi Grandstand, the crowd roared as they jumped to their feet. The members of Foreigner were full of antics onstage throughout their set, which might as well have been a live showing of their “Greatest Hits” album. There was a lot of hair flips and hip swaying as Foreigner played for the crowd, which responded in kind.

The grandstand echoed as fans of all ages sang along to the myriad of popular hits. Singer Kelly Hansen, who’s been with Foreigner since 2005, prodded the crowd along by asking questions such as, “How many wild crazy women are here tonight?” before going into the hit “Dirty White Boy.”

The antics got a bit more provocative throughout the night, such as when bass player Jeff Pilson hip-thrusted his bass between the two big beach balls.

Foreigner proved that their music truly transcends generations as they kept the crowd fired up throughout the night. While the crowd was mostly people my parents’ age, I did spot some teens donning Foreigner T-shirts.

Toward the end of their set, keyboardist and synthesizer player Michael Bluestein played a lengthy solo followed by a drum solo that flowed right into “Juke Box Hero.” As the song progressed, the band went into a jam session for several minutes before finishing the song. Hansen thanked the crowd and walked off stage.

The crowd roared as the band waved and walked off stage. Being the State Fair, I wasn’t sure if they would do an encore or not, despite the fact a handful of songs I had expected hadn’t been played yet. A few guitar riffs sounded through the speaker system and the crowd got even louder. The band walked back out and just brought the house down.

For the second song, Hansen enticed the crowd to put their arms around each other and brought the Green Ridge choir to the stage for “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Foreigner is part of the Grammy Foundation, which donates money to schools to fund their music programs. Those in attendance had the opportunity to purchase two Foreigner CDs and a raffle ticket to win a Les Paul guitar autographed by the band. Proceeds from the raffle went directly to the Grammy Foundation. Hansen, at one point, stood in the middle of the choir as the entire grandstand sang along.

The band finished the night with “Hot Blooded” and the crowd roared one last time as the band met at the front of the stage to take a bow.

I was really impressed with the show. Both bands displayed an energy and appreciation for the crowd. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves and really prodded the crowd to get into the performance. Based on the loudness of the crowd, I’d say it was reciprocal.

“Foreigner is one of my mother’s favorite bands and I grew up listening to them because of her,” said Emily Haines, Miss Marion County 2012 who competed in the Missouri State Fair Queen Pageant. “It was pretty awesome to see a band from a different era perform. It was completely different than any concert I had been to before.”

View Andrew Mather’s extended gallery of the Foreigner concert here.

Posted by on August 10, 2013. Filed under Columns,Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to Starship, Foreigner entertain night two of the Missouri State Fair

  1. Michael Gaiman Reply

    August 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Andy … I manage the authentic and original Jefferson Starship … We are touring Brazil this week. Your article has many errors including your assertion that “White Rabbit” is one of Mickey’s “hits.” Sadly, Mickey’s people blue about history to get bookings. Paul Kantner and David Freibetrg founded Jefferson Starship. Kantner founded Jefferson Airplane who recorded “White Rabbit.” Basically, the fake Starship opened for the fake Foreigner – lol. All music is good – we need more music and live in the world but let’s not credit Mickey by stealing Paul’s accomplishments and attributing them to Thomas.

  2. Denise McMann Reply

    August 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Hey Andy, while I appreciate the facts you posted in your comment, I have but one question for you. Are you bitter, much? My god, Mickey Thomas and Starship are extremely talented musicians who I believe deserve the respect and recognition this writer gave in their article. Not even you, Mr. Manager, can take that away from them.

  3. Denise McMann Reply

    August 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Sorry that comment was not meant for *Andy it was meant for Michael Gaiman.

  4. Anne Volm Reply

    August 11, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I find it fascinating that Michael Gaiman was the first comment on this article. Seems like he’s stalking Starship to spread his resentment. I’ve seen both Jefferson Starship and Starship in concert, and the experience of the former was dull and flat in comparison. Mickey Thomas and Stephanie Calvert are talented and engaging entertainers, and Phil Bennet blows my mind with the keyboards. They might not have been the “first” or founding members of Jefferson Airplane, but they are certainly the best experience to have today. Sorry, Michael, you backed the wrong horse.

  5. Michael Gaiman Reply

    August 11, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    ALL music is good! However, it is not correct to credit someone for the work of someone else. “White Rabbit” was NOT Mickey’s bands hit … yet you credited him as such … his reps book Mickey asserting ALL the AIRPLANE and original jEFFERSON STARSHIP songs are “his.” Correcting that is not “bitter” … it is only right and truthful. If you or others like Mickey better, that’s fine … everyone loves a different flavor ice cream also … no one claims vanilla invented strawberry.

  6. E Sizler Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 8:02 am

    All music is good. Agreed. But, there was a “bitter” tone to your writing. I agree that many times songs get claimed by the incorrect people and this should be pointed out. “White Rabbit” was a Grace Slick song. Everyone knows that. Many people would however say that Stephanie Calvert sings it much better, with more feeling and soul. Also, by the way, vanilla didn’t invent strawberry, but it is the world’s favorite. I”m just sayin….

  7. Denise McMann Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Thank you for your response Michael Gainman. I agree that the credit for songs should go to the artist who created it but as Ed pointed out, it was the tone of your comments that came across as bitter. I don’t know a lot about the biz but I do know that the bands both have rights to certain songs and that was all ironed out legally. I would like thank you Ed Sizzler, for supporting one of the best bands around, in my opinion, “Starship featuring Mickey Thomas”.

    I would also like to remind Michael Gainman that all the versions of the original band help keep all that good music alive today. Let’s all just appreciate that fact and rock on.

  8. Michael Gaiman Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

    … email often lacks syntax … there is no bitterness … only clinical professionalism. I have been in show business 37 years and it is “my job” NOT “my past time or hobby” to protect the rights and interests of my clients. You will ever see JEFFERSON STARSHIP performing Mickey’s songs because we respect HIS work and we do not wish NR do we need “confusion.” Mickey or his reps NEED to confuse the public. We get tons of emails from fans who say: “They promoted Starship by playing AIRPLANE songs only, NOT by playing “Sara” or “Mannequin” … so we thought we were seeing JEFFERSON STARSHIP and we felt ripped off. THAT is the problem I wished ton address when Andy wrote “Mickey did his old hot “White Rabbit.”

  9. C Gonnelly Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Mr. Gaiman, I appreciate you looking out for the best interests of your clients. You seem like a rational individual. I believe even you recognize that the confusion always seems to be with journalists that have not properly researched their subjects ahead of time. I admire both bands, their histories, talent and showmanship. But let’s be honest. The initial comments reeked of bitterness. Trust me when I tell you this. People KNOW the difference between the two bands. I have never heard anyone say or imply they felt “ripped off” after seeing Starship perform. Personally, I think it would be an amazing experiece to see both bands perform back to back at the same venue. Let their fans and the public be the judge. Each band won the rights to use certain songs in the courts. No one is trying to infringe on anything. You say it’s out of “respect” that Jefferson Starship does not perform Mickey’s songs. Could it possibly be they no longer have the vocal range to even attempt one of Mickeys songs? How is Starship attempting to confuse the public when JANE is the song used on the radio promos? Yes it was recorded during the Jefferson Starship days but Mickey Thomas has ALWAYS been the singer who performed and recorded that song whether it was with Jefferson Starship or Starship. Perhaps your focus needs to be more on promoting Jefferson Starship rather than attacking Starship.

  10. Michael Gaiman Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    … Mickey’s reps sell Mickey as doing all his hits including “White Rabbit” & “Somebody To Love.” Also – we have recordings of Mickey announcing: “Here is one we used to do when we were called Jefferson Airplane.” Mickey was never in Jefferson Airplane.

  11. C Gonnelly Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Mr. Gaiman. I know he was never in Jefferson Airplane. Most people know he was never in Jefferson Airplane. When they perform the Airplane songs he says something to the effect of taking people all the way back to honor the roots and history of the band. He does not, nor has he ever claimed to have been with the band back then. He is recognizing and acknowledging the fact that without Jefferson Airplane there would not have been Jefferson Starship or Starship. He is showing gratitude rather than claiming ownership or responsibility and anyone driven by common sense and not ego would recognize that fact.

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