The Year in Music 2017: Foreigner, Neil Young, Roger Waters, The Who keep busy

Foreigner with ex-members (Karsten Staiger/MeinFotoland)A wide variety of veteran artists had an eventful 2017. Here are just a few of the many compelling stories that took place during the past year:

Foreigner celebrated the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album with a variety of special releases and events, the most exciting of which were a handful of concerts where original singer Lou Gramm and some of the band’s other former members rejoined to perform a few songs.

At a July 11 show in Wantagh, New York, Gramm, founding keyboardist Al Greenwood and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald reunited with Foreigner for a three-song encore, while former bassist Rick Wills appeared at a June 11 concert in Spain and original drummer Dennis Elliott hit the stage with the band on August 2 in Tampa, Florida. Then on October 6 and 7, Gramm, Elliott, Greenwood, McDonald and Wills all took part in a two-night stand at Michigan’s Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort that was captured for an upcoming TV special, album and DVD due in 2018.

Foreigner’s 40th anniversary celebrations also included the release of a career-spanning compilation titled 40 that featured some new and unreleased material; a lengthy North American tour with Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience; and couple of symphonic shows in May in Zurich, Switzerland that were filmed for an upcoming concert video.

Neil Young continued his prolific ways in 2017. In September, the folk-rock legend issued an archival studio album titled Hitchhiker, a 10-track collection recorded solo in one night at a studio in Malibu, California, in August 1976. The record offers stripped-down early renditions of eight tunes that went on to appear on other Young albums, including “Pocahontas,” “Powderfinger,” “Human Highway,” and the title track. Then, in December, Young released a new studio album of original material recorded with his current backing group Promise of the Real called The Visitor. The same day The Visitor hit stores, Young launched the expansive Neil Young Archives website, described as “a comprehensive chronological collection of [Neil’s] entire recorded music, films, videos and books, audio streaming in Master Quality.” All of the content on the site currently is accessible for free. Young also was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in September at a ceremony held at Toronto’s famed Massey Hall.

–Ex-Pink Floyd bassist-songwriter Roger Waters released his first solo album of original rock songs in almost 25 years, Is This the Life We Really Want?, in June. He supported the record with a major North American trek dubbed the Us + Them Tour that ran from late May to the end of October. The shows offered a massive multimedia production, with sets featuring selections from the new album alongside songs from Pink Floyd’s classic 1970s albums. Waters’ outspoken support for the Palestinian-led BDS Movement — short for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement — led many Jewish and Israeli groups to call for a boycott of his shows. Roger’s Us + Them Tour will resume in January and is slated to visit Australia and New Zealand, Europe and South America.

The Who had a relatively light touring schedule in 2017, but some of the shows the British rock legends played were quite historic. The band performed their classic 1969 rock opera Tommy in its entirety for the first time ever at concerts held March 30 and April 1 at London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of the annual Teenage Cancer Trust benefit events. The group also played their first-ever Las Vegas residency, a six-date engagement at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace that was part of their North American summer trek. Meanwhile, Who guitarist Pete Townshend took part in a short series of U.S. performances of the orchestral version of The Who’s 1973 concept Quadrophenia in September. That same month, Townshend revealed that he’d married his longtime partner Rachel Fuller in December 2016, and that he was planning to take a year-long sabbatical from The Who. Roger Daltrey and most of The Who’s touring band played a handful concerts without Townshend in late October and early November. Daltrey also announced plans to publish a memoir in fall 2018.

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