According to David Coverdale, the other Teessider with a prime set of pipes, it’s Good To Be Bad. Well it’s even better to be Bad Company.
This was, quite possibly, the best rock and roll show Newcastle’s Arena has ever staged with a sound to savour and an emotionally charged performance par excellence. Sure there were moans and groans that Paul Rodgers and co. were on stage less than 90 minutes but the sheer quality far outweighed the limited quantity. Those who left the venue without their hairs standing on end need a lesson in appreciation – this was a special event worth every penny.
If Joe Perry’s set was more background filler than fret-burning killer then there’s no doubting the soul inside this rhythm king. At one with his guitar the Aerosmith star’s natural, emotive style contrasted sharply with his hired hand on vocals – a note perfect German of typical Teutonic vintage who never put a foot wrong but never really got the vibe right.
Ending a lengthy, almost self-indulgent set with Walk This Way was the perfect way to get an appreciative crowd warmed up for the headline act – that riff is Perry personified but without Steven Tyler’s vocal a classic song is clearly missing something. Let’s hope the two halves of a legendary whole are recharged and reunited later this summer.
So to the Company men. With Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke back on board it would be easy to ignore the loping Howard Leese. Easy apart from the fact that the former Heart man is in irrepressible form these days and, riding high on last year’s sensational solo record, it’s no wonder the veteran guitarist is a staple of Bad Company in 2010.
Yet it was Ralphs and Rodgers who stole the show with the acoustic charged version of Seagull – two pals and fellow professionals engaged in a friendly six-string joust which was all about the music. No gadgets, no pyro, no bass line and no fuss. Just an incredible voice and two finely tuned guitars carrying the crowd and creating a moment of aural magic.
Equally effective, though marrying the audio with the visual, was the brilliant Burnin’ Sky. Knee deep in a sea of dry ice, the band ensured an atmospheric setting was given a suitably soaring soundtrack.
As if Ralphs and Leese weren’t enough the arrival of Perry saw the Rock N Roll Fantasy engine room powered by three guitars and the bank of riffs was spellbinding. Rodgers insists he will never join Perry under the Aerosmith banner for as long as Tyler is on the scene but this brief glimpse of two rock greats working in tandem offered a tantalising glimpse of some stellar rock future.
An encore bookended by Ready For Love and Bad Company could never fail but the classic of the night was surely Shooting Star. It’s the perfect showcase for Rodgers’ remarkable range and Ralphs’ command of the fret board and this was the best version we’ve heard for years. Every song a winner and every note just perfect. Rock N Roll Fantasy? Maybe.