It's July 4th! Time again for WMGK's annual Let Freedom Rock Fest. FREE CONCERT! FREE PARKING! FREE FIREWORKS! What more could anyone want on Independence Day? Much better than going to downtown Philly and having to deal with all the traffic and horrendous parking fees.....
For some reason, whenever Paul Rodgers reunites with Bad Company, it always seems to hit our area around the 4th of July. The last THREE TIMES(1979, 1999 & 2009) I was not able to go. I remember last year wishing that the Freedom Fest would bring Bad Company here next year. Well, they must've been reading my mind because here it is a year later and we have...THE VOICE......PAUL RODGERS! I guess one of the Bad Co guys was not able to make the trip over this year, so they took Paul's current Bad Co/solo band members: guitarist/keyboardist Howard Leese(formerly of Heart) and bassist Lynn Sorensen, added his regular drummer Jeff Kathan and flew on over.
It had been pretty hot and humid all day but by the time I arrived for the show, there was a nice breeze blowing off of the river where sailboats were sailing lazily along. On the river's far side, the fireworks would go off occasionally as a lead in to the display on our side that would start as soon as the concert finished.
After the usual WMGK DJ's intro, Paul was onstage at 8:12 with the very first Bad Co hit Can't Get Enough. During this one, and the second song Rock & Roll Fantasy, he would hold the microphone out for the crowd to sing the chorus. His voice sounded a bit rough at first and I was concerned he might not be at full power tonight. And the "crowd sing along" bit wasn't covering so well since most the crowd was under 40 and didn't know the words. Only two or three, out of the hundreds in the area I was sitting, were singing along.
But by the time he swung into Movin' On, all of my worries were set at ease as Paul was all warmed up and ready to show us all why he is called...THE VOICE.
Many of the songs took me back to my teenage hood...I remember being in my dad's '69 Chevy and racing my friend in his '76 Ford Pinto to see who would reach our destination first while Runnin' with the Pack blared on my radio. HAH! An eight cylinder Chevy against a four cylinder Pinto...It wasn't even close.....And it was a real treat to hear Satisfaction Guaranteed, a song Paul had sung in his days with another band, The Firm. I had wonderful memories of driving around with my girlfriend when that one was on the radio on the 4th of July twenty five years ago....
And they even had room for a special effects screen behind the band that would burst forth with occasional scenarios, like the view through a windshield of a racing car on Movin' On, a disco mirror ball on Shooting Star and thunder & lightning to begin Burnin' Sky, etc.
I was a little disappointed that several that were in last year's Bad Company set, Gone Gone Gone, Electric Land and Seagull, were omitted, but it was nice to get Satisfaction Guaranteed and the encores of Ready for Love and Bad Company showed Paul really throwing it down and outdoing himself.
Also in the show were Bad Co's 1976 hit cover of the Coaster's Youngblood, a Hendrix tribute of Little Wing/Angel and of course Paul's best known songs from his Free days: Fire & Water and All Right Now.
Howard Leese and the band were okay though I did miss Mick Ralph's ripping leads on several of the songs. Leese cooked it up pretty nicely on Burnin' Sky and the Hendrix stuff, however.
Can't Get Enough
Rock & Roll Fantasy
Runnin' With The Pack
Feel Like Making Love
Fire & Water
Little Wing/ Angel
All Right Now
Ready For Love