I’ve never been a huge reunion tour patron. The shows can be a huge disappointment if you favorite band comes out and sounds like a poor reflection of their former selves. Or if half the band is replacements and only the drummer is original, then I’m not interested. Such was not the case when Bad Company did a handful of dates in 2009.
I’ve been a fan of this band since I was a kid. Their songs were on the radio and I remember the original album cover, black with white type. Bad Company was an early “supergroup” in that Paul Rodgers formed a new band after Free with Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople, Boz Burrell from King Crimson. They hired former Beatles manager and now Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant and were the first band signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swang Song label. So that made them ever cooler when looking at the artwork. They had the same awesome label logo as Zeppelin!
I had never had a chance to see the original Bad Company and thought I never would. After Rodgers left the group in the early 89s and the band reforming with new singers and a more MTV sound, I figured this was another band ruined by the 80s. Paul Rodgers had only once performed with the band during a 30-date US tour in 1999. Minus Burrell who passed away in 2006, this lineup of the original surviving members for a short 11-stop tour was on my bucket list.
Opening Band: The Doobie Brothers
Ticket Price: $41
Purchase Price: : $10
For this show I tried using Craigslist for the first time to buy tickets. I knew the show would not be a sellout, but I wanted to take my wife and kids so I was looking to save on 4 tickets with face value of $41.00 or $120+. I was able to find 2 sets of tickets for $20 each for a total of $40, just $1 shy of the face value!
I packed up the car with a cooler, some food and a few blankets to sit on. We had lawn seats at Walnut Creek Pavillion which I have to admit I prefer from a sound standpoint. I’ve sat in the covered Pavillion seating area and depending on the band it can be too loud or distorted. Plus the lawn give space to spread out, this kids can dance, run around, or lie down and crash if they want.
Not only that but The Doobie Brothers were the opening band and I had not seen them before either. I told the kids they were seeing two multi-platinum selling artist for approx $5 each but they were not impressed. This Doobie Bros lineup consisted of 3 original members with the recent return of Tom Johnston on and vocals, along with perennial Brother Patrick Simmons and Michael Hossack on drums.
This was not going to be a Michael McDonald show with Tom Johnston back in the lineup. Instead it was a great selection of their more rocking songs with the harmonies and backing vocals that made them famous before Michael McDonald joined the band. Opening Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) and Jesus is Just Alright got me up and dancing immediately.
Tom Johnston sounded great and Patrick Simmons is a rock iron man that ranks up there with the greats on both guitar and vocals. Takin it To the Streets, Black Water and Long Train Runnin’ were spot on to close out the set. The Doobie Bros came out for a nice 3 song encore with China Grove, Without You and Listen to the Music.
Bad Company opened with Can’t Get Enough, the first song from their first album and it sounded great. The audience was singing along with the band in no time. Then they went into the second song from Bad Company album, Rock Steady, a slow building, driving song. The hits kept coming as there was no new album to promote or new songs to play.
For Seagull, Paul Rodgers had the audience singing along with them. Other tracks from the debut album during the set were Feel Like Makin’ Love, Shooting Star and Movin’ On. Each song sounded as good as it did when I first listened to them 30+ years ago. Rodgers voice is still strong and he really knows how to engage the audience.
The set finished and I knew that Bad Company had to be the encore. The single spot centered on the stage as the grand piano rolled out and Rodgers took his seat. The slow, ominous build up of the song with Rogers vocals are classic rock at its finest. Matched up with the heavy guitar sound and you have…Bad Company!
To me Paul Rodgers is enjoying smart choices he made not to be a lush like many of his peers. He looks great for his age and his voice is as strong as it ever was. The only song I would have love to have heard was Good Loving Gone Bad because it rocks and Paul Rodgers has the great line, “And baby I’m a bad man!”