Live At Wembley

Bad Company

Of all the sturdy, blues-based hard rock bands from the 70s, Bad Company were able to transcend pedigree and pop with smart, catchy and radio-friendly songs, superbly executed by former members of Free, Mott The Hoople and King Crimson. Being signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label definitely gave the band an extra layer of cool and prestige. Since those heady days, various lineups have used the Bad Company moniker, but it really isn’t the same without Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke (original bassist Boz Burrell died in 2006) on board. Now that Rodgers is no longer working with Queen and his solo career is always on deck, the stage was set for a full-blown reunion in 2010, supplemented by bassist Lynn Sorensen and guitarist Howard Leese. A highlight during the band’s first UK gigs in over 30 years was their April 2010 appearance at London’s Wembley Arena. Fortunately, high-definition cameras captured the performance, and out has come Live At Wembley, hot and ready on DVD, Blu-Ray and CD.

There are several magical moments to see and hear on Live At Wembley, but one that stands out is that of Ralphs on his Les Paul and Leese, a charter member of Heart, strumming acoustic as a prelude to Rodgers walking out to sing “A Simple Man.” A simple man in a simple band, yet there any number of layers and facets to Bad Company once you take in the breadth of their work. Indeed, the hits like “Can’t Get Enough” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (on which the entire audience sang along) come tumblin’ out like freshly baked bread. But then they veer left with “Burnin’ Sky” (which only appears on the DVD and Blu-ray), run through a field of daisies during “Seagull,” and buzz through “Electric Land.” Rodgers is still, at 60 (as of the day of this performance), the consummate frontman with the ultimate blues-based hard rock voice. His effortless command over tracks such as “Shooting Star,” “Rock N’ Roll Fantasy” and “Bad Company” are so heavily ingrained and part of the songs’ fabric, it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing them.

Seeing images of fallen rock n’ roll heroes on the LED backdrop during “Shooting Star” is a sober reminder of the classic rock era from which Bad Company originated. There, amongst Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, were personal tributes to band mate Boz Burrell, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and Free guitarist Paul Kosoff. This is where the legacy of Bad Company truly sinks in. The bonus feature on the DVD and Blu-ray consists of pre-show and post-show interviews with band members, who mostly chat about how well the tour had been going. Meanwhile, the future of Bad Company, at press time, looms in mystery. From the way things look and sound on Live At Wembley, it would be a damn shame if an encore performance wasn’t in the works.

~ Shawn Perry

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