at Metro Arena, Newcastle, U.K., April 18, 2011

A date in the Northeast of England is always one of the high spots in the touring schedule of Paul Rodgers. Newcastle is the closest place on this UK tour to his hometown of Middlesbrough, and it’s a stone’s throw away from Sunderland where the legendary Free Live album was recorded back in 1971.

Joining Rodgers on stage were long-time cohorts ex-Heart lead guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Todd Ronning, and on drums the man very much in demand at the moment, Jason Bonham, currently on loan from Black Country Communion.

Drawing on material from Free, Bad Company, and his own solo work, Rodgers, looking considerably younger and fitter than his actual age, dazzled the crowd with a consummate, impeccable performance. Kicking off with vintage Free is always a sure-fire way of winning over the crowd, and with “Walk In My Shadow” from Tons Of Sobs followed without a pause by the punchy “Wishing Well” and the solid groove of “Fire and Water” complete with a mini-Bonham cavalcade of drums at the end, which certainly got the temperatures rising right from the word go.
Those wanting a healthy dose of Bad Company were also served well with Rock staples “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “Can’t Get Enough”, rubbing shoulders with classics like “Running With The Pack”, “Rock’n’ Roll Fantasy”, and the self-titled “Bad Company” with Rodgers providing some simple, yet devastatingly effective piano accompaniment on the impressive black grand piano centre stage…

It really is difficult to pick out highlights in a show packed with them, but “Be My Friend” was simply jaw dropping, and Rodgers showed real class by wringing every last drop of emotion out of his smouldering Blues voice. Few singers have matured as well as Rodgers. A prodigious teenage talent in the late 1960’s, has matured in a way like only a true Blues legend can. Similarly, “Shooting Star” set the emotion levels to high as the crowd took over to join the band on the shimmering chorus.

Rodgers has played alongside some of the greats in the business, from Jimmy Page to Paul Kossoff and Mick Ralphs amongst many others, so he knows a thing or two about quality musicians. Howard Leese, with his understated style, excelled at recreating the musical masterpieces with some tasteful and stylish playing. His role as a founding member and innovator in Heart is often overlooked, but his contribution to tonight’s show was highly effective and complemented Rodgers perfectly. Jason Bonham certainly needs no introduction as his groove powered drumming showed hints of his father’s style and melded perfectly with Ronnings pulsating bass work.

Nestling amongst the Free and Bad Company classics were a couple of real surprises, including “Mr Midnight”, a song from the can’t-come-soon-enough new album, and if this sets the tone for the record, then we are in for a right treat. This slow, heavy Blues shuffle is absolute classic Paul Rodgers and certainly didn’t sound out of place next to his more celebrated material.

Bringing out his old school friend and former Road Runners bandmate, Colin Bradley, the man who taught Rodgers his first guitar chords, was a great touch and their take on The Temptations, “Ain’t To Proud To Pray” was a fitting tribute to their long standing friendship.

Closing the show with a clutch of Free standards, including the evergreen “All Right Now”, featuring one of the most recognizable riffs in music, and “The Hunter” brought the evening to a rousing end.

Paul Rodgers has been around for many years and could quite easily rest on his laurels and coast into retirement. Not on your life! His performance was full of energy and vigor and his enthusiasm and genuine love for life on stage was clear for all to see. This inspired performance and stunning vocal display showed a singer at the very peak of his craft. Paul Rodgers may tour more selectively these days, but if he comes anywhere near you, you’d be mad to let the chance to see a genuine legend play pass you by.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.