@ Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, April 18 2011

As the wild eyed devotees filed from their seats in the wake of yet another flawless (let’s not mention the intro to My Brother Jake!) Paul Rodgers show it’s likely every single member of a rock steady audience would have gladly paid for the pleasure again the following night.

And the night after that. And the night after that. 


In fact the more you witness Rodgers in his element, strutting across a grand stage surrounded by the cream of the blues rock community, the more you dream of the next time this legendary performer rolls into town. Better and better with age, Middlesbrough’s finest cannot defy his advancing years forever but on this sparkling evidence there’s little to suggest he won’t be packing out big venues for many years to come.

For Rodgers it’s all about a putting a fresh twist on a familiar evening’s entertainment and drafting in Joe Elliott’s Down N Outz isn’t a bad place to start. A pure party band, infused by glam’s gloriously over the top traditions, they’re the perfect aperitif to the delicious main dish.

Elliott clearly enjoys his busman’s holiday and in many respects the Down N Outz are the very antithesis of Def Leppard. If there is a clear undercurrent of professionalism then their rough and ready set is all about living for the moment and letting the music breathe. Minor US hit Overnight Angels and Whizz Kid, from Down N Outz forthcoming album, were genuine highlights with Keith Weir, on keys, reinforcing his reputation as one of the finest honky tonk tinklers in the business.

Job done, Joe and the boys retreated into the shadows with the promise of much more to come from this Leppard/Quireboys collaboration. Just how much more, and how soon, remains to be seen with full-time band commitments back on the agenda for the busy summer period.

And so to Rodgers. First on and last off, the former Free frontman owned the Newcastle stage from start to finish. And yet one of the highlights of the night had nothing to do with one of the greatest singers the UK has ever produced.

If the massed ranks were busily discussing the standout song or the most crisp vocal then talk swiftly turned to Jason Bonham and there’s no doubt the experienced sticks man adds a sonic boom to every signature Rodgers tune. Maintaining an understated yet powerful rhythm, his effortless timing perfectly complemented the big hits and the crowd favourites.

As regular Rodgers watchers will testify, it’s hard to look beyond Seagull for the most magical moment of a starry night. With the spotlight trained on his acoustic guitar, the main man drew in every last man and woman with yet another wonderful rendition of an emotive classic.

That Rodgers fluffed his lines on My Brother Jake proved that even the seemingly infallible have their weaknesses. Far from spoiling things it brought out a broad smile in the dazed singer – down on the floor they were rolling in the aisles.

Those are the moments which make live music special but there are plenty of those moments at a Paul Rodgers gig. In tandem with old buddy Howard Leese – so cool, calm and classy – everyone’s focus of attention delivered a typically engaging set brimful of emotion and genuine affection for his loyal fans.

When the Voice Of Rock does, finally, call it a day the world of music will be missing one of its most vibrant sparks. Thankfully this electric and eclectic show suggested we are simply witnessing the beginning of the end.

Simon Rushworth