written by Jason S. Rittenberry
On a sweltering hot July evening in Georgia, Bad Companys 2010 North American Tour rolled into Atlantas Chastain Park Amphitheater and brought a set list of classic rock favorites.
The rock icons took the stage to a rousing ovation as legendary frontman Paul Rodgers counted in the band, consisting of original Bad Company members Mick Ralphs on guitar and Simon Kirke on drums, to the familiar opening guitar riff of Cant Get Enough. The additional musicians completing the band were longtime Heart guitarist Howard Leese and Lynn Sorensen on bass (original bassist Boz Burrell passed away in 2006). The super group stayed up-tempo with Kirkes drum beat leading straight into the second song Honey Child. Rodgers then greeted the audience as he took his place to play a black grand piano for Running With The Pack and then returned to the front of the stage, with his signature microphone stand in hand, for Burning Sky.
The fourth song of the night was a nice surprise as the band, with Rodgers now playing harmonica, performed Oh, Atlanta, bringing the crowd to their feet. At the conclusion, Rodgers stated, We havent done that one in a long time. We did that one especially for you. As the audience showed their gratitude for the special song with cheers and applause, everyone in the band except Rodgers and Ralphs exited the stage as the two, each playing an acoustic guitar, performed Seagull. At the conclusion of the song, an impromptu and touching moment occurred with Ralphs stepped up to the microphone and led the crowd in cheers saying The beautiful voice of Paul Rodgers! Give it up, come on! The two band mates embraced.
Now, with the other band members having made their return to the stage, Gone, Gone, Gone was the next number followed by Rodgers return to the piano for Electricland. Not a song that immediately comes to mind when thinking of the Bad Company catalog, Electricland showcased the bands skills with their instruments in which Kirkes percussion specifically stood out.
Leeses acoustic guitar coupled with Ralphs electric guitar created a haunting extended intro next for Simple Man, bringing many to their feet with Rodgers smokey, blues oriented vocals that were perhaps his most feeling felt lyrics of the night. Another extended intro saw Leese now with both a mandolin and electric guitar around his neck for Feel Like Makin Love. This song brought the loudest cheers of the night and everyone to their feet who were not already standing. Most would remain up for the remainder of the show. Leese switched effortlessly back and forth between the two instruments as verses turned to choruses and Rodgers supplied a mid song harmonica solo.
Crowd participation was a point of emphasis next on the popular story song Shooting Star as Rodgers, after singing the majority of the song, lead the audience in singing the last verse and several chorus rotations. Appreciative of the participation, Rodgers said, Youre all in the band, youre so good! at its the conclusion.
Now worked into a frenzy, the audience was happy to sing along again for Rock n Roll Fantasy and Movin On which again highlighted the guitar work of Ralphs and Leese joined by Sorenson at the front of the stage as Rodgers cheered them on from the drum kit by Kirke. This would be the last song before the band exited the stage for a quick break.
Returning to the stage, Rodgers, thinking the same thought as all in attendance, proclaimed Its been a great night! He thanked the crew for all of their hard work in putting on the show, and then started the encore with a sultry rendition of Ready For Love.
The lights then went down with smoke filling the stage as a spotlight shown from above on Rodgers at piano as he played the unmistakable intro to the bands namesake song Bad Company. Passionately performed, this song closed the show. Before taking a bow with the entire band, Rodgers told the audience Until we meet again, take care! God bless! We love you! Bad Company and Paul Rodgers fans were left hoping that time comes again very soon.
There are not enough compliments I can offer the charismatic Paul Rodgers, whose voice sounds more amazing at age 60 than it did 30 years ago. He continues to wow audiences worldwide. I will simply say it was an honor and a privilege to see him perform live, especially alongside Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke. This is a show that deserves a full house at every stop of the tour.