“Can’t Get Enough” Bad Company in Camden, NJ
On a hot summer night along the Delaware river front in Camden, N.J., the opening power riff that is “Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy” split the thick night air. By the first cymbal crash, the band was in, the lights were up and so was the capacity crowd as the boys in Bad Company tore into the first of many of their greatest hits for a more than appreciative audience, who were already revved up by the opening act, Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I recently interviewed a classic rocker who said to me, “The trouble with old rockers is that they want to play/make new music, and their fans want to hear old rockers making old music.” That is a quote from Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson on older musicians trying to force feed their now “mature” fan base new material, versus the hits that they’ve come to expect from veteran bands. I believe that the boys in Bad Co. may have overheard our conversation, their hour and twenty minute set was nothing short of spectacular as they rattled off their most popular material.
“The Sky Is Burning” was next and quickly followed by “Run With The Pack.” A brief moment of silence, broken only by the soft strokes of a mandolin, was a prelude to their mega-hit, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” This definitely was one of the highlights of the set as they seemed to kick things up a notch in their stage presence; obviously buoyed by the crowd reaction to this timeless classic.
Unlike many bands from their era, Bad Co. still has three original members in the fold. One of their others, bassist Boz Burrell, has sadly passed away; yet the band did one of his written works when they performed “Gone, Gone, Gone” off of their Desolation Angels album.
Still possessing one of the greatest voices in rock history, front man Paul Rodgers took to the mic. and informed the throngs that their next song would be dedicated to none other than Chubby Checker, who was among those in attendance. The sounds of “Young Blood” filled the air and the band seemed to be really enjoying themselves more with each passing measure.
“Honey Child” exploded into “Moving On” as Rodgers voice continued to impress myself and many around me. Phrases like, “still the best” and “one of the greatest rock voices of all time” were overheard. Perhaps none more evident then when Paul eased his way into the opening lines of “Shooting Star.” This, like, “Feel Like Makin’ Love” earlier, became an instant chorus of thousands as everyone from the last row of lawn seats, to the photo pit at the front of the stage, seemingly sang in unison right along with Rodgers. A sly smile came to his face as he hit the last verse. Utilizing only his voice and some minor Simon Kirke drum accompaniment, Paul got the crowd to sing the final verse almost alone. “Johnny died one night….” and as his voice trailed off, fifteen to twenty thousand Paul Rodgers impressionists took over.
Wrapping up the set was the hit that started it all, “Can’t Get Enough,” which featured great duel guitar work by Mick Ralphs and former Heart lead player Howard Leese. Current bassist Todd Ronning kept it all together with a driving bottom end that drove this runaway train straight down the tracks to a great finish.
Still hungry for more, the very vocal, ravenous crowd, stomped their feet, whistled, chanted and held up cell phones with the cigarette lighter app. as they implored their heroes for an encore. An obviously pleased Rodgers stepped up and confessed, “In ’73 when we were forming this band, we never thought we’d be standing here forty years later. Thank you all!” Striding over to a piano, he began the haunting opening of “Bad Company,” which once again, brought out the vocal abilities of many in attendance. A hard driving version of ”Rock Steady” closed the evening, sending many for the exits as the lights came up. Ah, but I’ve seen this happen before, I knew that they couldn’t leave us this way, I knew that there had to be a second encore. My instincts were correct, as Rodgers and Ralphs reappeared on stage and began the opening chords of their signature ballad “Seagull.” Many rushed back to their seats, most stood where they were and sang along for the last time on this fantastic evening.
In the end, the crowd left drenched in sweat and satiated by some of the best rock ‘n’ roll ever made. Bad Company is back, for many of us in attendance it’s as if they never left to begin with. I’m telling you this and I’m a “Straight Shooter,” this show is definitely worth the price of admission.