The Bad Company frontman delivers an inspired performance in Paso Robles
Note: As part of The Tribune’s coverage of the 2012 California Mid-State Fair, we’re running a series of concert reviews. Here’s my take on July 27′s classic rock two-fer, featuring Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Paul Rodgers.
Paul Rodgers may be 62, but he sounds and moves like a man in his prime.
The Bad Company frontman delivered a steady stream of energetic hits July 26 at the California Mid-State Fair, thrilling the leather and denim-clad crowd as he smiled, strutted and tossed his microphone stand in the air.“Ooh, I love that,” Rodgers called after leading audience members in a sing-along to “Shooting Star.” “You’re beautiful. Give yourselves a big round of applause. That was great.”
Co-headliners Joan Jett and the Blackhearts took the stage first, performing “Bad Reputation,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and other familiar hits. She tossed in some song from her stint with all-girl group The Runaways (“Cherry Bomb,” “I Love Playin’ With Fire”) and played a couple of brand-new tracks (“TMI,” “Hard to Grow Up”).
Dressed entirely in black, Jett showed the same range that made her a rock goddess, but her energy level seemed off. Perhaps her enthusiasm was dampened by the relatively small crowd or the unusually chilly weather.
Still, she played gamely on, occasionally shouting “How are you doing, Paso Robles?” and altering the chorus of “Do You Wanna Touch Me” to “Do you wanna touch me, fair?”
Jett closed her set with “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” better known as the tune from Faith Hill’s NFL anthem “Waiting All Day for Sunday Night.”
After a break, legendary rock singer Paul Rodgers seized the spotlight.
Opening the concert with Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough,” Rodgers and his band — guitarists Howard Leese and Markus Wolfe, drummer Rick Fedyk and bassist Todd Ronning — delivered a dynamic concert that spanned the entirety of his decades-long career, from his early days with the blues-rock band Free to his current solo career.
“It’s so great to be here,” said Rodgers, who wore a silver vest, Union Jack tie and red-and-shirt flowered shirt over his grey T-shirt.
When he asked, “Are you ready to rock?” the crowd erupted into cheers.
The repertoire ranged from mega-hits such as “Bad Company” and “Run With the Pack” to lesser-known songs including “Gone, Gone, Gone,” “Honey Child” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” Fake thunder and lightning accompanied Rodgers’ rendition of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy,” which incorporated the chorus from The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride.”
Although the no-frills stage design came across as uninspired, the same couldn’t be said for Rodgers’ performance. His vocal fireworks, paired with a solid wall of sound from his seasoned backup musicians, more than compensated for the lack of high-tech pyrotechnics.
As the temperature continued to drop, the crowd shrank. However, the faithful few who stayed until the end of the concert were rewarded with an encore performance of two Free songs, “Walk in My Shadow” and “All Right Now.”
“Thank you!” Rodgers said as he signed off. “You’ve been a beautiful crowd.”
Paul Rodgers photo by Brittany App.
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