Bad Company @ Cardiff International Arena 05/04/10

On a Bank Holiday Monday so bereft of entertainment, hordes of people could be found watching traffic lights change in Cardiff town centre, Vintage rockers, Bad Company provided a much needed entertainment shot in the arm.

Formed after the collapse of Free in 1973, lead singer Paul Rogers got together with Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs, King Crimson bass guitarist Boz Burrell and drummer Simon Kirke to create the legend that would become Bad Company.

Paul Rogers - Photograph by Mal Lee

The first band to be signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song record label and despite being heavily leant on to change ‘that terrible name’ Bad Co’s self titled first album went  Platinum five times over.

Playing their first live gig at Newcastle’s City Hall in March 1974, the band went on to a huge sell out tour of the States, where their unique brand of no nonsense yet melodic rock n blues was a coast to coast hit.

Their phenomenal success continued until ‘82 when Rogers left the band to raise a family and eventually pursue a solo project with Jimmy Page. Four years later Ralph and Kirk, resurrected the Bad Company name, successfully producing several hit albums. But it wasn’t until 1999 when Rogers made his comeback to the band that he had started 26 years earlier, that Bad Co burst back onto the scene in a big way.

A 30 date sell out tour of the States and the launch of the Bad Company anthology on cd and the band were right back on top.

Which brings us nicely to their 2010, 8 gig UK tour and in particular their Cardiff Arena show. Warmed up by Joe (Aerosmith) Perry’s solo project, the almost capacity crowd went in to overdrive when the 3 original members (Rogers, Kirk and Ralphs) hit the stage.

Mick Ralphs - Photograph by Mal Lee

As with previous tours, the band was complimented with former Heart guitarist Howard Leese and long time collaborator on Roger’s solo projects, Lynn Sorensen on bass.

Kicking off with ‘Cant Get Enough of Your Love’, the audience, the majority of which looked old enough to have been fans the first time around, warmed up right away as their iconic hits pumped out one after the other.

But this is no easy venue to play, Welsh crowds being notorious for not suffering posturing fools lightly. Many an ageing rockers reunion has floundered on stony ground here, but the moment they launched into ‘Simple Man’, the type of power ballad where Roger’s voice has no equal, the crowd stood up and never sat back down.

Only the kill joy health and safety regulations prevented thousands of lighters being sparked up when the opening chords of ‘Feel Like Making Love’ spread across the arena. A song that having been written so long ago and performed innumerable times, could easily have been a shadow of its former self, but sounded as fresh and as raunchy as it did in 1975.

Not relying on fancy pyrotechnics or juggling circus performers, the band played their way through a back catalogue of legendary rock standards with nothing more than some well-choreographed lighting.

But when ‘ Shooting Star’ cranked up, portraits of rocks fallen heroes appeared on a giant backdrop. Tracking the rise and untimely demise of everyone from Hendrix to Freddie Mercury. Mercury’s inclusion would under normal circumstances have been slightly incongruous amongst Janis Joplin and Keith Moon, but it did raise a cheer from the audience. A nod from the many Roger’s fans to his performance in 2008 as Queen’s front man.

Simon Kirke - Photograph by Mal Lee

Something I have to admit, regardless of how successful a coalition that was, still gives me trouble imagining. And which at the time lead me to believe that Ozzy Osbourne’s Abba tour was only a matter of time.

Howard Leese - Photograph by Mal Lee

The only trouble with listening to a catalogue of such familiar songs, is the set appeared to be over before it began, but they weren’t going anywhere. The first encore had everyone singing along to ‘Ready for Love’, whilst the finale was left to one of the greatest haunting rock ballads ever penned, ‘Bad Company’.

They may be getting on and not as sprightly as they once were, but their song writing skills have given them a back catalogue of pure rock classics. Ad to that an obvious enjoyment of playing, keeps them both relevant and entertaining.

Lynne Sorensen - Photograph by Mal Lee

I feel genuinely sorry for this latest generation of music fans. Force fed on a diet of manufactured studio bands, thrust into unwarranted stardom and seemingly incapable of giving a good account of themselves live. Do yourself a favour kids, delve into Bad Co’s back catalogue and see how its done, then go see them live, talking the talk and walking the walk almost 4 decades later.

Special Thanks to Guest Reporter:
Mal ‘Hogfever’ Wales

Hogfever Wales


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