Photographs by Lee-Ann Wylie
Arriving inside the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston Michigan, USA, the opening band (Black Stone Cherry) was already in full swing delivering the start of the evening’s entertainment. What a great opener to the switch-hitting-headliners Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd. While seeing lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Robertson hold down centre stage, it was a tossup whether to watch guitarist/vocalist Ben Wells and bassist/vocalist Jon Lawhon fly back and forth while performing or drummer John Fred Young! With arms flying and jumping up and down and facial expressions that you could see from the lawn Young was a show unto himself!
They delivered their set of aggressive southern rock tunes that, as they say, “put hair on your chest”! It was a pleasure to see Black Stone Cherry! This band seemed young but not new to the stage. They have three albums out and have been performing since 2006. If you haven’t seen them, they are definitely worth checking out!
After a brief intermission, Bad Company hit the stage with (before you ask) Paul Rodgers. Whenever I told anyone I was going to see Bad Company, the next question was always, “with Paul Rodgers?”
They walked in and owned the stage with all the early 70’s hits you wanted to hear. They opened up with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy”, “Burnin’ Sky” and “Run with the Pack”. Leese (guitarist) started “Feel like Makin’ Love” with a great little mandolin introduction.
This 40th anniversary Tour features “Free” members Rodgers (1973-1982, 1998-2002 and 2005 to present), original Bad Company performers Simon Kirke (drummer), and guitarist Mick Ralphs (from Mott The Hoople). Rounding out the band are bassist Todd Ronning (2012; also part of the Paul Rodger’s band) and guitarist Howard Leese (2008; former Heart guitarist of 22 years).
Paul Rodgers was in great form, hitting every note and has the charisma of Don Juan. Rodgers is one of the best vocalists to ever hit the stage. In my opinion, he has one of the most recognizable voices, along with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and Robert Plant.
Rodgers shined in “Ready for Love” nailing every note. The crowd sang along to “Shooting Star”. Next he performed “Gone, Gone, Gone”, “Live for the Music”, “Honey Child” and “Movin’ On”. If you owned a radio in the 70’s you would know all these songs.
Rodgers announced, “Remember this?” to the unmistakable guitar riff of “Can’t Get Enough”. The crowd had not had enough after the band had finished and they returned to perform, “Bad Company” and “Rock Steady” to close out their spot.
By now all you could see was a sea of heads in the Music Centre. It seemed like it had reached its capacity of 15, 274 (7,202 pavilion and 8,072 lawn seats). For Torontonians, it compares in capacity against the Molson Amphitheatre, which holds 16,000 (9,000 seated).
I’ve waited a long time to see Bad Company again (the Paul Rodgers version!) and if you want to see them too, now is the time!