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Bad Company, Brighton Centre, Brighton, April 10th 2010

April 13, 2010

OK, sometimes a fella needs to rock – and I mean ‘rawk’ – so there we were, cruising down the M23 to Brighton on a sunny Saturday afternoon, Bad Company blasting from the car stereo like it was 1976 all over again. The Browne Bluesman and I agreed that Bad Company’s appeal was that they were ‘no frills’ – just solid blues-rock, with great riffs, memorable songs, fine singing and no squealing guitar solos or annoying pomp. And that means Bad Company’s music had lasted pretty well, unlike most heavy rock bands from that era or – heaven forbid – the 80s. Less is usually more, in rawk as in life.

The FA Cup semi-final went as badly as we’d feared, particularly with The Suit jeering on the sidelines, so we were very much in the mood for some plain old fun. By the time we’d got to the Brighton Centre, the Joe Perry Project were near the end of their set, which wasn’t too much of a shame, to be honest, though it was nice to hear Walk This Way played by the man who wrote that riff.

When Bad Company took the stage and launched into Can’t Get Enough, I suggested to my second-row compadres that we rush for the rail… so we did, all the better to nod our heads, whoop and generally rock out. Paul Rodgers was leaping about the stage like a man possessed and he certainly seemed to be geeing up Mick Ralphs, who was somewhat hesitant for the first couple of songs, but Rodgers’ enthusiasm soon got the better of Ralphs too.

We were treated to most of the rocking classics – Rock Steady, Run With The Pack, Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy – as well as the slower numbers like Seagull. Sadly, they didn’t dedicate it to the local football team, which would have pleased the crowd, but it was nicely done. It did set me thinking (not that you do a lot of that at a Bad Company gig) about ordinary English blokes making rock ‘n’ roll in the 60s and 70s. Most of them came from humble enough backgrounds and I suspect that we sometimes forget these days just how exotic America was back then –  certainly when they were growing up in the 50s. And American ideas of freedom (sexual and otherwise) must also have been something exciting. Seagull sings of this sense of freedom and escape:
   Seagull, you fly across the horizon
   Into the misty morning sun.
   Nobody asks you where you are going,
   Nobody knows where you’re from.

It’s quite a long way from Dylan, let’s be honest, but I admire the fact that a lad from Teesside looked further than just at the chance to work in an ICI factory. It’s not complicated, but it is truthful.

Anyway, that’s enough analysis, let’s boogie… and Feel Like Makin’ Love got the big cheer it deserved, though I was slightly disappointed we didn’t get that fine solo from Ralphs which is on the harmony rather than the melody, but I sang along with the rest of them. Shooting Star was similarly received, to a backdrop of photos of rock ‘n’ roll’s victims, including the great Paul Kossoff, Rodgers’ and Kirke’s companion in the wonderful pre-Bad Company band Free.

Pugnacious D was standing next to me by the rail and started getting hassled by some drunk woman and her annoying boyfriend/husband/parole officer. I leaned over and said, ‘Don’t push. He’s been here rocking out to Bad Company all night, OK?’ I should have added that you don’t mess with the Pugnacious one, despite his deceptive stature…

Joe Perry came on for the encore, a rousing Bad Company, and seemed genuinely delighted to be playing with the band. And as my crappy camera-phone photo shows, Paul Rodgers was grinning like an idiot too. A very enjoyable show, after which we headed out into the Brighton night, for a session at the Hop Poles, an overcooked pizza and more shenanigans in the hotel bar involving a large bill and a tipsy policewoman. Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll.

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