Hansen happy to lead Foreigner from the front

Foreigner's lead singer Kelly Hansen
Foreigner's lead singer Kelly Hansen
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Filling the boots of any departed frontman is a daunting task – especially when you’re replacing the voice of hits I Want To Know What Love Is, Cold As Ice and Waiting For A Girl Like you.

But rock icon Kelly Hansen stepped into the Foreigner role almost a decade ago and has made it his own.

Fans have been raving ever since about the former Hurricane, Unruly Child and Perfect World star, who also provided vocals for some of rock’s other biggest names, including guitar hero Slash.

“I like to say I brought my own shoes,” said Kelly, 53.

With 10 multi-platinum albums and 16 top 30 hits, Foreigner are hailed as one of the most popular acts in the world with a formidable musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales, now exceeding 75 million.

They join The Final Countdown hitmakers Europe and British rockers FM for a night of rock classics, heading to a sell-out, at Sheffield City Hall on April 8.

In an exclusive chat, speaking from his New York hotel – listen to the full audio recording at thestar.co.uk – Hansen said: “I recognised I was coming into a group with a well-known voice in Lou Gramm and I just had to say, ‘listen, I think I can do this and I’m going to do it as well as I can’.

“At some point you have to be confident in yourself and say ‘you can do this’.

“The fans were really great from the start. They were really gracious to me and very welcoming.

“The band is really strong and rocking. I think they can see we are working really hard to give good presentation of these songs and we really enjoy doing it.”

And after nine years in the spotlight, he must feel the job is now his?

He laughs: “Well maybe, yeah. I think I’m doing all right. I’ve been around the block a bit. I’ve been singing sine the mid-70s, professionally. I’m having a great time and I feel really fortunate to be in this band.

“I feel I’m very lucky to be having this kind of second chance in my life. I’ve had great support from the guys in the band, including Mick Jones.”

British-born Jones, the only surviving original member of the band formed in 1976, is back on tour after life-saving aortoiliac bypass surgery and was recently inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame by Billy Joel.

His stylistic songwriting, guitar hooks and multi-layered talents are the backbone for the band’s hits, also including Juke Box Hero, Feels Like The First Time, Head Games, Say You Will, Dirty White Boy and Long, Long Way From Home. New album I Want To Know What Love Is – The Ballads, featuring Cold As Ice, Urgent and Hot Blooded, is out Monday.

Hansen added: “It’s a mixture of original and new recordings. Our goal is to make sure Foreigner is playing in as many households on the evening of Valentine’s Day as possible. Not many singers in the world get to sing such a great catalogue of material. Fans will get all the big hits on tour. We’re totally ready to rock the UK.”

Hot on the heels of a Spanish tour with Sheffield’s own Def Leppard and Whitesnake, Europe, featuring the original line-up, will perform classics such as Rock The Night, Superstitious, Carrie, Let The Good Times Rock, Prisoners In Paradise and global anthem, The Final Countdown.

Tickets for Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, are £38.50. Buy in person, call the box office on 0114 2789789 or buy online at www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.