We’ll be running a full and exclusive interview with the Voice Of Rock very soon.
But until then here’s a new feature penned by rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth looking at Rodgers’ return to his native North East…with another local lad in tow.
The North East has a history of delivering hot rock talent and this month’s must-see gig proves the point. Simon Rushworth previews Paul Rodgers and the Down N Outz at Newcastle Arena:
Paul Rodgers has always been proud of his North East roots and rarely tours the UK without revisiting the region which he still fondly calls home.
Relatives and friends will pack the front rows when the Voice Of Rock, as he is suitably known in the music business, rolls into town. But they’d better bag the best seats fast.
Opening up for Rodgers and his sensational solo band, featuring Heart’s Howard Leese on lead guitar and Jason Bonham on drums, are fast-rising retro glam rockers the Down N Outz.
An amalgamation of Def Leppard and the Quireboys, the understated supergroup play Mott The Hoople-inspired covers and include Blyth-born guitarist Paul Guerin among their number.
“I hope the other Paul has told his family to turn up early doors,” joked Guerin. “Because half of Blyth will be heading out for this one and it’s going to be a great night – as long as my lot behave themselves!”
The tale of two Pauls is a fascinating snapshot of the difference between making it big in the fiercely competitive music industry – and simply making it.
Where Rodgers swiftly enjoyed global acclaim thanks to his genre defining work with Free and later Bad Company, Guerin spent two decades jobbing as a journeyman guitarist with the likes of Michael Schenker, Brian Robertson, Steve Earle and Joe Walsh before landing a regular gig with the Quireboys almost a decade ago.
“I’ve earned a living out of music and I’m very lucky in that respect,” he added. “But I’ve never made much money! Then again I don’t have the voice that Paul Rodgers has. That is some saleable asset.”
It is. While a number of his peers have fallen by the wayside vocally in recent years, at the ripe old age of 61 there is still no better exponent of British blues rock. Proving he can still pack in the crowds with the reformed Queen and Bad Company during the last decade, Rodgers has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
“If I settled for the quiet life I think I’d just fade away without a trace,” admitted the Middlesbrough-born star. “I have to experience the excitement of playing live shows and I’m playing all over the world this year. I’m really, really busy and that’s just the way I like it!”
That Rodgers’ Newcastle show was immediately upgraded from the City Hall to the Arena is no surprise given his personal connection to the North East and its loyal rock crowd. Yet Guerin, for one, was just a little disappointed that he would miss the chance to open up for one if his idols at a venue synonymous with the former Free frontman’s fledgling career.
Down N Outz singer Joe Elliott, who will headline the Download Festival with his main band Def Leppard this summer, understands Guerin’s viewpoint. But he said: “I’m the kind of guy who loves to play live gigs.
“And if you’re stood where I’m standing it’s a lot more fun playing in front of a big crowd. The last gig I did was in the basement of a pub in London and you could see the whites of the people’s eyes. I know the City Hall is a special place but give me an Arena stage any time.
“Paul Rodgers playing to any Newcastle crowd means a lot to rock fans from any part of the world. It’s like when Def Leppard play in Sheffield. There’s that connection with your own people and it’s special. Playing the Newcastle Arena ahead of Paul will be a special moment for all of the Down N Outz guys.”
And Rodgers concurs with Elliott that on Tyneside this month it will be a case of the more the merrier. “The more people who can see this show the better,” he added. “But if it wasn’t for all of the people who have asked me for tickets we’d still be playing the City Hall!”
* Paul Rodgers and Joe Elliott’s Down N Outz play the Newcastle Arena on April 18.