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  Ventura, California - Ventura Theater
November 19, 1999

Review by BMDinSoCal

As I approached the venue I had agonizing flashbacks of the last "Paul Rodgers & Company" concert I witnessed at the Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles in August 1997. That was a most miserable and lackluster performance at best. Unbeknownst to me, my trepidations of that awful night were soon to be erased forever.

Paul and the band entered stage right at exactly 10pm, opening up with "Deep Blue" - a real kick ass rocker from their forthcoming cd entitled "Electric". Rodgers was in great form, sporting a white silken jacket atop a white t-shirt and gray bandana on his head. This band were much more animated than their "Now" band counterparts and looked like they were actually enjoying themselves! "The Voice" began swinging the mike stand around, strutting his stuff around the stage, mercilessly decimating the crowd as usual with his smooth, yet incredibly powerful vocals we have all taken for granted for so long now. To coin a phrase, this opener certainly was "Electric".

The crowd hardly had time to take a breather as the band began to pour out "Rock And Roll Fantasy". Howard Leese, of ex-Heart fame fired up a storm on his Gibson Les Paul while Rodgers surprising adlib lyrics were just incredible. So what's new!

Number three on their list was "Satisfaction Guaranteed". They played this song like "The Firm" never played it. Never could have, but should have. A Paul Rodgers/Jimmy Page union had, in theory at least, the makings of a kick ass "super-group" but in reality just couldn't pull it off. This new band's version was extremely solid and powerful. I enjoyed this one. By now my head was ringing like I was sitting inside "Big Ben" itself. These guys are LOUD!!

At this point I lost track of the sequence of songs. No matter, here's the list, but somewhat out of sequence I expect.

"Muddy Water Blues" - This one slowed the tempo down slightly, giving my ears a break.

"Fire And Water" - As they exploded into this one, my thoughts immediately turned to a night in February 1972 when I saw Free in concert for the first and last time. That's how good they were doing this one. Rodgers presence and vocals on this one surpassed everything in the show so far. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be the poor old mike stand as Rodgers severely punished it by slamming it into the floor on many an occasion throughout this song. Sounded to me like he was singing this one with a past encounter of the female kind in mind -

"Fire And Water Must Have Made You Their Daughter, BABY, Yoouuu Got What It Takes To Make A Poor Man's Heart Break!" Howard's blistering guitar solo totally complemented Rodgers punishing vocals on this one!

Then they were into none other than "Mr. Big" - another rocker from the "Free" academy which they pulled off very well indeed. Rodgers soulful, bluesy voice powerful enough here to stop dead the onslaught of an Amtrak barreling towards you without brakes!

"Little Wing/Angel" - Slowing the pace down significantly they were doing these two Jimi Hendrix songs as a medly. Not much to say here except they pulled them off wonderfully. Very well played and most enjoyable. Howard's guitar solos were just outstanding to say the least.

"Tracking Down A Runaway" - the first of the four new songs from the "Original Bad Company Anthology". This one turned out to be quite a kick ass rocker and they pulled this off much better than Bad Company did in concert. Bad Company's version was slightly laid back to say the least compared to this version. No holds barred on this one!

"Saving Grace" - I was absolutely amazed at how brilliantly they played this one from 1997's "Now" cd. Rodgers dominating vocals were foremost here as he spat out the lyrics with the conviction of a righteous hanging judge from the old West.

"Shooting Star" - it was on this one I noticed for the first time tonight the absence of the one and only Simon Kirke. The drummer here was somewhat laid back on this one and Kirke's powerhouse drumming would have endeared me to this one much more.

"Can't Get Enough" - It surprises why Rodgers chooses to do this one with any of his solo bands as this song was penned by Mick Ralphs. I am somewhat tired of this one as I am with "All Right Now". However, what can I say about "The Man's" performance on this tune - Magnificent as always. Ho Hum. As this one ended the band immediately blasted into "All Right Now" much to the chagrin of Rodgers. Obviously, he wasn't ready for it as he yelled out "What are you guys doing?" OK, so this was the song that put Rodgers on the map back in 1970. As much as they did an excellent job (as usual) I've had my fill of this one. I wouldn't miss this one if I never heard it again.

Then they beckoned the crowd a hearty farewell, leaving the stage for no more than a couple of minutes or so. This gave the roadies a chance to roll the electric piano on stage in anticipation of a most familiar encore:

"Bad Company" - One more time the absence of Simon Kirke was really obvious. Much as this drummer is really powerful on his kit, no one, and I mean NO ONE can match the supreme powerhouse drumming qualities of Simon Kirke. Still, they did an excellent job on this and Rodgers vocals and piano playing were just outstanding as ALWAYS!

"Silver, Blue And Gold" - A pretty good one to close the set with, but they didn't pull this off with the same conviction of the "Bad Company" version I heard out in Phoenix back in August 1999.

Regardless, once the band had departed the stage and the dust had settled it was obvious this band, without a doubt, are certainly a force to reckon with. I await the release of their forthcoming "Electric" cd with baited breath.

Now it's onto the December 28, 1999 concert at the Sun Theater in Anaheim, CA which I'm looking forward to with great anticipation.

That should be long enough to give my poor hearing a chance to recover.

Marion, Ohio - Marion County Coliseum
October 23, 1999

Review by Alan

THE ATTENDEES: Kristina (34), Alan (37), and Nicholas (5..and a huge fan)

PRE-CONCERT STUFF: In our quest to keep the summer of BadCo/Paul Rodgers from ending, the 3 of us decided to fly from Atlanta, GA to Columbus, OH to see "The Voice" one more time! We arrived into Columbus airport at about 4:30pm, 3 hours before the 7:30 showtime. This gave us just enough time to check into our hotel and make the 70 minute drive to Marion, Ohio. We arrived at the venue at 7pm and found out that there were two opening acts...w/Paul taking the stage at 10pm.

We left the arena to get a bite to eat and arrived back just as the 2nd warm-up was starting. We noticed right away that the crowd was very "subdued"...almost polite. There was about 15 feet of empty space between the stage and the first row of seating and nobody was in this area. We took our 3rd row seats and watched...occasionally answering our son Nicholas' repeated question, "Is Paul coming on yet?"

During the set-up for Paul's show, wife Kris asked security if it was ok to stand right in front of the stage...."sure, no problem" we promptly took our place directly in front of and against the everyone else continued to stay in their seats several feet back from us. Even when the lights went out, we were still there by ourselves...really strange!! Just before Paul came out, Kris turned to the crowd behind us and waved her arms to try and get the crowd to join us up front! The drum beat of "All Right Now" kicked in...and one by one people crept up to the stage with us.

THE SHOW: This show was AWESOME! Seeing Paul Rodgers this close is a great experience! He is so much more physical these days than what I remember in the '70s. He is constantly moving, and making personal contact with the audience. Best of all he seems to really be enjoying himself, which is a great change from the trend of '90s band that looked depressed or angry at the world. He immediately shook our hands during All Right Now and asked Nicholas his name. He took control of the crowd right at the start...It took no time for him to cast his magical spell on all of us with his fabulous voice and presence.

THE SONGS: These are the songs that were played. The order of songs between the first two and last two is not exact. I had planned to write them down as played but hands were full of cameras...and 5-yr old!

All Right Now
Can't Get Enough
Saving Grace
Shooting Star
Feel Like Makin' Love
Satisfaction Guaranteed
Little Wing (Hendrix)
Fire & Water
Mr. Big
New Song from forthcoming album (could not remember the name..but it rocked!)
Trackin' Down a Runaway
Rock'n'Roll Fantasy
Bad Company
Silver, Blue & Gold

THE PERFORMANCE: All songs were performed very well. The band seemed really tight this evening. This set list was quite different than the Atlanta show. They played a great mix of songs from throughout Paul's career. The only problem in being as close as we were is that it's a little harder to hear Paul's we were forward of the PA system. I guess the front pit needs its own monitor system! The trade-off is well worth it...we are spoiled seeing Paul that close! The crowd turned out to be really into it, singing along and having fun.

AFTERMATH: We had arrangements after the show to meet Paul and everything worked out perfectly! Paul's tour manager Wally was with Paul near the stage afterwards and we came on back. Paul immediately greeted our son Nicholas and signed his "NOW" Nicholas' extreme thrill. I had brought my Takamine acoustic guitar to have signed. We were blown away when Paul took the guitar and began playing "Seagull" ... singing the first few words. I tried to grab my camera and get a shot but he Kris said "keep playing, keep playing!" Kris even got a kiss from Paul on the cheek...(I'm still trying to get her to remember my name!) Paul could not have been nicer to us and our little boy. Thanks Paul! ...and a Huge thanks to Lucy for her help in the planning of our adventure!...her devotion to Free/BadCo/Paul is such a benefit to all us fans!...and to Lucy & Rob for their friendship!

We got back to our hotel at around 1.30am. Our flight back was in about 8 hours. All-in-all it was a whirlwind weekend. A definite dream come true!!!

Atlanta, Georgia - The Tabernacle
September 17, 1999

Review by Lucy

At last the time had come for Paul to sing in our hometown. I had bought 23 tickets for some fans to make sure they got their tickets. Many fans had a nightmare before the gig as they were troubled with the Hurricane, but I am pleased to say they still made the trip except for Robert who was stranded in Philly due to the airport being closed and many cancelled flights.

All of us met around 6pm at the venue in downtown Atlanta, the venue was a converted church which once was known as the House of Blues. We had our own line up (the allrightnow-gang) and all were very excited to see Paul. Some of us wanted to be at the front of the stage (below Paul) others were happy with the front row upstairs, which is also a great position. First on was a female singer, who sounded like Marrianne Faithful with throat problems. It was so bad. Not sure where they found her, but she can go back :-)) Pretty bad choice I would say especailly when I offered to get the great Barry Richman or Blues cat. Both of Atlanta. Anyway, Paul appeared on stage looking healthy happy and ready to rock. With his new colourful flowing shirt went straight into action with All right Now. At present I have forgotten the order of songs but I am sure one of the fans will write a review and help me out on that one. He was with Howard Leese of Heart on Lead guitar, Jeff Kathan on drums and Jason Boyleston on Bass. Both played well, better than the previous times I had seen them.

Its so cool to be a solo venue knowing everyone there to see just Paul. Its makes such a difference. This was the first time I had taken my daughter Samara to a PR gig. And she just loved being at the front and getting an idea of what her mother does at these PR gigs.

(Will she follow my footsteps?) hope so for the next generation !!!!!

Unfortuantly there were a few individuals who had too much to drink and were starting to get in fights, but it passed and the show continued..... Pauls voice was as wonderful as ever. He was smiling from head to toe, and loved the crowd singing along with him, I think he could have sung a few more songs but its very hard to complain especailly as I booked him into Atlanta and he agreed to play here. Thank you Paul for listening to me ........

After the show I managed to get most of the fans backstage for an autograph and a quick chat with Paul who was wearing a swarve shinny jacket backstage as he was cold on stage. some fans had gifts for him and others just wanted lps signed or cd covers. It was a real treat for all that met him. He told me he was looking forward to the release of the 5 cd set of Free which comes out in the next few weeks and also his solo cd called ............... wait for it ................ ELECTRIC ............. Think that's how it's spelt.

Cool name Paul ......... Another good name for an album is "After the Storm" (suggested by Tim Donahue). What do you think? The next day we had the fans meet together for an after show chilli cookout. It was cool talking about the gig and playing the music yet again ........ That night we headed out to see Bluescat and of course Bluescat treated us by playing two of Paul's songs.

I would like to thank the following fans for making Allrightnow-gang no 2 a huge success. Jeff,Jim,Bob from Blues cat. Debbie from Conn. Dawn from Boston, Linda and Stan from Gainsville, Steve and Sue from Atlanta. Bess and Gary from Charleston, Susy my neighbor, Scott from Atlanta, and Jerry from Nashville and lastly Christian from Tenn.

Photos of this great advent will be posted as soon as they are ready. Till the next one ...........

Review by Debi

First, I want to say thank you so much to Lucy & Family for a fabulous weekend. It was perfect. The AllrightNow Gang 2 did it again.. A super weekend & a super show even with Hurricane Floyd looming over us. Myself and friend Dawn from Boston were headed to "OH ATLANTA" to see Paul perform at the Tabernacle. As we headed over the rain to Atlanta on Thursday 9-16, the skies turned blue for us, and the sun kept shining the entire weekend. Our trip down was fun with a little help from the bloody mary's we had.. Arriving in Atlanta we met Lucy & did some errands bought some personal gifts to give to Paul & relaxed at Lucy's beautiful home, chatting and watching videos of Paul & Bad Company & Free.

Friday 9-17, the day of the gig, we just relaxed and got ready for our exciting evening ahead. Arrived at the venue about 5:45 to find only 2 people in line, so we were definitely going to be right up front. People started arriving behind us, great Paul fans.. and the excitement started to build. We waited about 2 hours before the doors opened, exchanging stories of long ago, gigs we all attended... Everyone was so nice & friendly. The doors opened and front row dead center, fingers touching the stage.. that is where we were.. it was awesome. A local band opened for Paul.. and about 9:45 or so, the excitement was unbelievable, people chanting "we want Paul" ... & there he was.

Clad in black stretch pants, white tee shirt & a beautiful white long sleeved ethnic looking shirt with red, gold & yellow through it.. Actually he wore that very shirt to I think the Philly show this summer with Bad Company. He had on his sunglasses for the first song which was Allright Now which got the already excited crowd really going...He at times bent down to touch people's hands in the front rows, very friendly & genuine. I'm not sure the order of the songs & I might leave a couple out (don't have the set list, a lucky woman received this for her birthday!!!!) but he did, Fire & Water, Feel Like Making Love, Honey Child, Trackin Down a Runaway, Rock & Roll Fantasy, Shooting Star, Rock Steady, Bad Company, a song from Muddy Waters that I can't remember the name (sorry).

And then it was all over.. Lucy had arranged the group to meet Paul backstage so we went in groups of 4. We were in the second group (myself, Dawn Samara & Lucy). I met Paul in June of '99 with Bad Company and it was still the same thrill to meet him again. I don't suppose I'll ever get tired of seeing him & talking with him. He was so very nice, friendly, personable... just a real gentleman, I showed him a picture I took backstage in June of him & my family & he remembered the poster my kids made. He commented.. & I gave him my little gift bag.. took pix, got autographs.. it was wonderful, an absolute thrill. As the others did the same, I clicked away on my camera so I got some great shots of all of us backstage.

The night ended with many smiles & great memories, but the weekend was still far from over. Saturday, Lucy had whoever was around that went to the gig over for a chili dinner. We met some wonderful people form South Carolina (Bess & Gary) and some other great people. After dinner we headed over to a local bar where we saw the band BLUES CAT. They were great. Lucy knows the band quite well, so we sat right in the front & partied. What a great band!! Hey, guys, you need to work on a CD .. OK? Sunday came to soon .. & Dawn & myself headed back to the Northeast and to our families. Seeing Paul perform was just incredible, as it usually is.. meeting him was fantastic & meeting all these wonderful people that share the same love & feelings for Paul Rodgers, Free & Bad Company was truly a wonderful experience.

I want to thank Lucy, Robert & Samara for a wonderful weekend, for all the hard work you did Lucy, it paid off... seeing Paul was the ultimate.. & you made it possible. THANKS.

Review by Tim

First of all thanks to Lucy as always for this time bringing Paul to Atlanta and The Tabernacle.

'The Voice" (they say the voice of Free & Bad Company) but I think Paul could be known simply as "The Voice" because he is that good!!!

He came strutting on the stage with All Right Now and almost immediately went center stage and greeted Lucy then just sang his heart out as always. This man has soul down to his toes!. I know he is known mainly as a rock'n'roll singer but being from Georgia I'm happy to say he hits you like the late great Otis Redding with that wonderful soulful voice! He just pulls you in to what he is singing with the emotion, the delivery, the soul and "The Voice". God what a beautiful voice!!

With the exception of All Right Now and Mr Big, Paul mainly had the same set list as the Bad Company show I saw in July. While it was good to see another band play some Bad Company songs I was a little disapointed that Paul didn't do more Blues songs. That is my dream concert with a proper blues band behind him. But Paul was fantastic doing these songs again too!

I also must admit I miss Geoff Whithorn as the guitarist with Paul. Howard Leese of" Heart" fame is technically very good but he just doesn't play from the heart (no pun intended) that I feel adds to Pauls wonderful singing. Paul has not yet found or likely ever will find another Paul Kossoff but the simple powerful graceful blues based guitar fits Paul's voice best I think. The modern rock guitarist just doesn't sound right. Geoff is not even close to the wonderful "Kossoff" being more of a rocker but he is much more suited for Paul to my ears than Howard Leese.

As for the new rhythym section. The drummer was very, very heavy sounding but solid. I was on Howards side of the stage so I must admit I could not hear a note the Bassist played all night but he sure looked like he was having a lot of fun though.

The best part of the show (obviously besides Paul's wonderful singing) was when the guitar builder Paul Reed Smith came out and played a few songs including Mr Big. Besides building some of the most fantastic guitars on the planet Paul is a bad boy himself on guitar. He also is a very nice humble person. I have met and heard him before.

After the show Lucy got us back stage to meet Paul (she got me back stage in July at the Bad company show too). Thanks Lucy!!!

Paul was so gracious and patient I know he has to tire of all the people just wanting to shake his hand but even though it was only a couple of minutes he made us feel very welcome. What a nice man.

As for my wish lists it would be Paul to cut a record with Booker T and the MG's or Robert Cray and do a Soul album with "The Voice" with the proper backup group for that style of music. Or do another blues album with real blues players and not an allstar album where the only one that shines is Paul. What do you say Paul!! Please!!

I can't wait for the Free Box set to come out and the Biography of Free too!!!

It was another great Paul Rodgers show. Thanks again to Paul for a wonderful show and Sweet Lucy for the chance to see him!! I'm hoping to see Paul soon!

Everyone in the world see this treasure when you can you will pat your feet and sing bad versions of his songs for days.

Naperville, Illinois - Last Fling
September 4, 1999

Review by Mike

Only a few days after completing the summer's successful Bad Company tour, Paul Rodgers was back on stage in fine form with a new band, kicking out some stellar rock and roll that included material from Bad Co., Free, The Firm, and the Hendrix set. (See play list below.)

On a perfect summer night at the upscale Naperville (Illinois) Last Fling, Paul took to the outdoor stage with Howard Leese and his "Brigade" sidemen to chomp through a kick-ass (almost metal ) set that left no one wondering whether this guy can still capture a crowd.

My wife Jean and I have seen Paul four times in the past two years, with his "Live and Now" band and with Bad Co. We had learned about the Naperville gig from a link to Howard Leese's touring schedule on the AllRightNow web site - thanks Lucy! We didn't really know what to expect and hadn't seen any reviews of a couple earlier shows - suggesting that Paul has only had this ensemble together for a few gigs.

A crowd of about 7,000 turned out for "70's and 80's Night" and Paul was the feature artist, following a competent set by a Chicago act called Arra that rollicked through a credible repertoire of Foreigner, Journey, Rush, and other retro memories.

Jean and I wondered what Paul would open with, since it wasn't clear just how many folks in attendance were familiar with the man's career. (There were a fair number of Bad Co. and "Now & Live" tour t-shirts in evidence; including one bozo with a Brian Howe version tour shirt!) Jean bet on "Can't Get Enough of Your Love," a safe bet and the usual opener during the summer' s Bad Co. dates. I took a risk and went with "All Right Now," thinking that the instant recognition was 100% for this tune and Paul would have to trade off another number for the anticipated encores.

The band took to the stage and the opening drum beat was straight from "Free Live," the unmistakable percussive lead in to Free's all-time signature smash hit. The crowd was immediately up and dancing and Paul orchestrated the song in his usual style, having the audience sing the choruses. As he's said in interviews, this number practically sings itself.

Howard Leese and his sidemen (Jeff on drums and Jay on bass) have a harder, garage band sound than the "Live and Now" crew of earlier solo tours. This band was out to rock n' roll, and fans of LesPaul guitar power chording, Andy Fraser chordal bass riffs, and solid hardtack drumming could not be disappointed by the hard driving energy that Paul & Co. displayed throughout a set of nearly ninety minutes. After "All Right Now's" final smash down power chord, Paul turned around to the drummer and said, "Hey man, it's gonna be a sweaty night of rock and roll!"

Highlights for Jean and I were outstanding renditions of "Fire and Water" and "Mr. Big" which eerily captured Free's thunderous power. (Paul dedicated these songs to Paul Kossoff, as is his tradition when he gets into this material.) Also a treat was The Firm's, "Satisfaction Guaranteed" that featured an extended free-form jam that wove a hypnotic trance beat of funky bass riffing with Leese adding Page-like noodling and Paul scat-singing in a bluesman style. The Hendrix number "Little Wing" was a tender interlude that also came off well through a finely tuned sound system that showcased Rodger's still mesmerizing vocal prowess. (The sound quality at this concert was far superior to the muddy mix we suffered through at the July Bad. Co. show at Chicago's outdoor New World Music Theatre.)

The encore set consisted of piano numbers "Running with the Pack" and "Bad Company." Throughout the show, Rodgers appeared to be enjoying himself, smiling broadly and working the crowd. His voice was great and the sound mix was about the best I've heard in an outdoor venue.

I may risk some controversy in saying this, but I have seen Paul perform Bad Co. material with three different bands now, and either of his solo bands have done a superior job of showcasing this music than the original Bad Co. mates.

At any rate, it's clear that Paul Rodgers is always worth catching, no matter who's backing him up. He has a knack for putting together extraordinary players who click on the tight, classic bluesy rock tunes that he's penned over his now thirty-year career. I'm betting some of Paul's best music is yet to come, and can't wait to see what emerges from his next foray into the studio.

Play List:

All Right Now
Tracking Down a Runaway
Honey Child
Satisfaction Guaranteed
Fire and Water
Mr. Big
Little Wing
Shooting Star
Hammer of Love
Feel Like Makin' Love
Rock & Roll Fantasy
Running with the Pack
Bad Company

NAMM Convention, Los Angeles
January 30, 1999

Review by Frank

Saturday, January 30th, I walked into the Taylor Guitars room at the annual NAMM convention in LA. I was there to see a bunch of great musicians play some acoustic numbers with a few surprises thrown in.

First up was Stuart Smith (guitarist from Sweet, Aliens of Extraordinary Ability) who played a classical piece by J.S. Bach accompanied by Richard Harvey on Flute. A very eloquent piece with some nice dueling between the guitar and flute. Stuart even remarked to the audience what Photo taken after the Ventura show. Left to right: Stuart Smith, Richie Sambora, Paul Rodgers. a difficult piece this was to play. In spite of Stuart's modesty the song was pulled off nicely.

Next up Stuart was joined by Howard Lesse and Paul Shortino on guitar, along with Marving Sperling (Bass) and Richie Onori (Congas) and Lysa Parker on lead vocals. The song this time was Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter" and Lysa provided some soulful gypsy-esque vocals that were very heartfelt. Shortino threw in some strong harmony vocals and with each song you could feel the musicians digging in and there was a definite electricity in the room.

Paul Shortino took over on lead vocals for the next two songs. The first was Stuart's title track off of his solo record "Heaven and Earth" originally sung by Joe Lynn Turner. This was an eloquent melody and cool bridge in the middle that sounded especially good with the acoustic guitars. The intro and the crescendo at the end of the song was filled with some very tasty guitar nuggets, melodic and catchy. Shortino dedicated the next song "Too Many Nights" to his wife whom he wrote the song. Another catchy ballad that Paul crooned out to the audience that was served up well.

The audience gave Shortino a nice round of applause as he exited the stage for the man himself, Paul Rodgers jumped up on stage along with his bass player, Jason, who took over for Marvin. The audience cheered with approval as Stuart introduced Paul to the room. First up was Howard and Stuart went into the familiar chords of "Feel Like Makin' Love" A good choice and I found myself tapping my foot to the melody and as I looked across the room, almost everybody in the crowd was singing along, doing their best Paul Rodgers imitation. Next up was another Bad Company gem, "Shooting Star". All I can say is what a voice, to these ears, Paul sounded as good that day as he did with Free when he first started out all those years ago.

Just when you think the day can't get any better, later that evening, I traveled to the Omni Hotel in dowtown LA, where Seymour Duncan was sponsoring an All-Star Jam. I'll get right to who I was there to see. Seymour introduced the guys in the band, "I'd like to introduce you to some friends of mine, "Howard Leese on guitar, Jason Boylestone on bass, Stuart Smith on guitar, Richie Onori on Drums, and probably the best singer in the universe, Mr. Paul Rodgers". The band opened with Hochie Coochie Man, the old blues standard. Boy was Paul mean't to sing the blues. Paul was obviosly enjoying himself, twirling the mic a bit, and jumping around the stage. Howard took the solo in this song and was just making the guitar sing.

Next up was a slow blues jam. The twin guitar attack really worked well on this. Paul was the conductor on this one, first he shot a look over to Howard, who took the first solo. Howard had his head cocked back, obviously getting into the groove trying to outdo himself from the last song. Paul jumped in with a few verses, then he shot a look over to Stuart and said "Give us a solo". Stuart started with some ear-bending blues licks, kind of slow and nasty, then within a few minutes he was burning up his Fender Start into a frenzied pace. You could feel the sweat dripping off the neck of the guitar.

The band left the stage for a couple of minutes and although some of the audience was a bit sedated in the back, those of us towards the front were screaming for more. The closer was one of my favorite songs, "The Hunter" and although Paul didn't write it, he sure did standardize it. These guys just ripped through this one. The twin guitar attack laid down the crunching riff, Stuart and Howard were rocking back and forth playing off each other and Richie was belting on his kit like there was no tomorrow. What can I say about Paul, words aren't needed.

Sadly all things must end, the band came down to a whisper and Paul threw in a few solo blues verses and the band was done. After the show, I found out that Paul showed the rest of the band the songs for about 10 minutes backstage, no rehearsal or anything. These guys were definitely happening and I can only imagine what they would sound like if they actually had rehearsed together. Whew, what a day!!

Ventura, California
January 16, 1999

Review by William Derham

Ventura, California
January 16, 1999

Review by Irene

On Saturday 16th of January my husband Paul, my son James and I (Irene) traveled from the San Francisco Bay area to Ventura, a coastal town North of LA. We were going to see Paul Rodgers in concert at the Ventura Theatre. We saw him in concert there last year and really enjoyed the show, the theatre is small and everyone had a good time.

We feel as if we have come full circle from watching Free play in small London pubs and theatres in the South of England to the Free farewell concert at the Albert Hall, Peace in a London University, Bad Company at places like Earls Court, Newcastle City Hall, The Firm at Wembley Arena right back to small venues but this time in California. As you can tell we are not 'locals' and have only been living in the Bay Area a few years. You can imagine our surprise on suddenly noticing Paul Rodgers concerts advertised in California having imagined it would be some time before he played anywhere where we were in the same country.

The Ventura Theatre is not like any venue we have been to in England, true it sort of resembles an old english cinema that has been converted into a club, but it is the first place we have ever had a meal with this type of show, along with seats so close to the stage you can touch it.

The front tables are long trestle tables with the short sides against the stage and the chairs along both sides. We sat at the table up against the middle microphone - naturally! We had met some really nice people some of whom we had met at last years concert.

From the minute we arrived at the Theatre, the atmosphere seemed somehow different from the last time, more charged. The place filled up quickly and it was as if everyone was really into this and ready to have a really good time.

There were two local bands on first, I think they were called 'Valley of Souls' and 'Bone' they had brought a lot of supporters and by the time they had finished the whole place was in party mood. It was apparent from the moment Paul Rodgers came on stage, around ten, it wasn't only the audience in party mood and ready to go!

Paul was wearing skin-tight black trousers (not jeans) with a black belt and a pale vest under an open pastel coloured shirt and of course snake-skin boots.

They opened with All Right Now and the place erupted. Before long we had various young ladies dancing on the tables with security trying very hard to get them down. In the UK there was a radio DJ and music journalist called Annie Nightingale and I always remember her saying 'Paul Rodgers now looks more like Neil Diamond than Neil Diamond does' lately I have been wondering if it was really Tom Jones he was turning into (I mean that most kindly). When one of the young ladies gave Paul her underwear I thought it was really happening! I don't know what Tom Jones does with his offerings but Paul gave them back! Paul looked very fit and just to prove it he got onto the table next to ours and strutted up and down singing. He finished up getting onto the tables either side of ours, this was just as well as everyone at our table was in a state of panic as our table had already almost collapsed earlier on in the evening - we were deciding who would play paramedic just in case!!!! Paul was standing at the end of one table with one snakeskin boot almost touching the hair of one girl who was ASLEEP and she slept through the entire song - AMAZING! No one was asleep at the next table and one young lady joined him on the table for an 'up close and personal' moment or two!

They did mostly Bad Company songs with some songs from the 'Now' CD as well as The Firms' Satisfaction Guaranteed - which was really nice to hear - also a new song which may have been called "Runaway" - raw and rocky with Paul on guitar.

I have seen and enjoyed Heart concerts in London and it was nice to hear some riffs from the Heart track Barracuda from Howard Leese. I think Pauls voice was the best I have heard it in recent years, very strong and it seemed as if he could go on all night. They went off stage just before twelve and came back with two extra guitarists, Ritchie Sambora and someone who looked like a larger version of Mick Ralphs - anyone who knows who it was please let Lucy know. It was a great concert, one of those where everything gelled and worked perfectly. There was no doubt about it Saturday night at Ventura was more than 'All Right Now.' Thank you Paul Rodgers and the Howard Leese Band. Thank you Ventura Theatre and all the great people there for a really memorable evening. In case you are wondering I was very well behaved all night - sometimes just being there is enough.

Redondo Beach, California
January 14, 1999

Review by Tim

My friends and I showed up at about 6:15 PM with the doors to the Club Caprice due to open up at 6:30 PM. We were only about 5th in line; I started to worry about the lack of attendance for the night. However, by the time we were let-in, the lines had grown to about 50 people. We bought dinner seats, which allowed us to be seated three feet from the stage. The dinner seating areas were first come, first serve, except for numerous VIP marked seats closest to the stage. Long, banquet style tables, with chairs on each side, were arranged at 90? angles from the stage. We were facing the right of the stage. This place is older, but nonetheless, I’ve always been curious what this type of club would be like to view a concert, with dinner tables and all. In all the countless concerts I’ve attended, this was the first where I was eating during the opening act.

By the time the first band walked on stage, the place was filling up. I would have to guess that the place holds around 400-600 people, with a bar and unreserved seating in the back complimenting the reserved dinner seating in front of the stage. If you ever attend a concert at this place, I recommend spending the extra dollars for the reserved dinner seating and getting there early.

The first band was called “Turn-around”, and was a four piece Jazz-Blues band in the veins of Steely Dan, Dr. John, and others of the like. They played all originals and were well received. Jazz is not my cup of tea, but I enjoyed their heavier edged blues songs like Baked Potato Blues. The guitarist was technically brilliant and seemed to have a following attending that really liked his playing. The drummer was sound as well. The bass player was good, but for some reason never took any turns playing leads.

The second band was “Beyond Control”. This band was made up of three kids, about 12-14 years of age. After the crowd got over the shock of their ages, we all had a good time and enjoyed them very much. The drummer was very advanced for his age, the bass player was very good, and the guitarist definitely shows promise, he even walked off the stage and on to dinner tables about 4 times to play up close! Their parents were seated right next to us and seemed to be very nervous, but the moms took a lot of pictures and we had fun. They played all originals and rocked hard.

They gave us a nice surprise by calling for Mark Kendall, the excellent lead guitarist from Great White, the Great White bassist (sorry I don’t know his name, but he is very good), and Bobby Blotzer, the drummer for Ratt (recently signed by John Kolodner, may I add, for whatever its worth) to come up and jam. They played a nice version of Roadhouse Blues with the kids’ instruments. The crowd loved it. Kudos to the road crews and band members for taking their gear off stage quickly after both opening acts.

Next up was Paul Rodgers. I haven’t seen Paul Rodgers live since the Muddy Waters Blues tour. I saw Paul and the Neal Schon line-up open for Steve Miller (blechhh!!!!) in Minneapolis, MN and stun the crowd with a killer set of Bad Co., Free, Solo Stuff, and Hendrix tunes. I always like seeing a crowd not knowing who someone is and then getting gradually blown away, and then they are all saying, “oh yea, now I know who this guy is!”.

This night, Howard Leese and (his “Brigade”) band hit the stage to the familiar drum beat of “All Right Now”, then Paul came running out twirling the mike stand and beaming a smile a mile wide as he was clearly pleased to see the place completely full. Right before they hit the stage, it was announced that the show was being filmed for a “Blues Documentary”( if it comes out, get it!!!) For whatever reason, I had some reservations about seeing Howard Leese Brigade backing Paul up because of my love for the Neil Schon and especially the Geoff Whitehorn led “NOW” line-up (see Loreley Tapes and the House of Blues concerts), but seconds into the first song I knew these guys could really play. I already knew Howard could play, he always has shown that with “Heart”, but with budgets being low and touring being expensive, I thought that there was a chance that the drummer and bassist were low-budget. They weren’t! In fact, they were very, very good and very enthusiastic! Howard is soooo smooth that his playing seems to lack passion, but he was smiling and really having a good time, and was well (over?) dressed for the occasion with a purple velvet jacket and pants that seemed to be from the mid-80’s Heart days. He really seemed to get into it, and sang some backing vocals and surely seemed to have a good time.

Second up was a surprise with Bad Co’s “Honey Child”, which is not one of my favorite tracks from them, but sounded great live. Howard played some nice licks on this one and Paul’s vocals were excellent! Next up was “Rock Steady”, Paul was really into the vocals on this one. All through the night, he really, really got into his singing. His ad-libs were astoundingly heart felt, real bluesy! Thanks for playing this one Paul, it’s a classic and sounded fresh!

Then for the introductions of the band members, they each got a spotlight of about 30 seconds. For the bassist to be introduced, they did the opening riffs for Led Zep’s “The Ocean”, and after the crowd roared, Paul said, “Do it again!”, and they did it again, the crowd roared again, and so Paul said, ONE MORE TIME!, much to the crowds delight!

Next up was the drummer’s introduction. For him they chose Led Zep’s “Moby Dick”, and again they played the opening riffs one, two, three times to the cheers of the crowd and with Paul’s requesting.

When Howard was introduced, just in case people didn’t realize which band he was from, they ripped into the opening segment of “Barracuda”, but in great showmanship form, they didn’t do it again and instead went into “Standing Around Crying”. Paul sang this song with so much extra effort, it must have been as good as his legendary performances at Ronnie Scott’s “Sings the Blues” five night stand (I was wearing the concert t-shirt from that mini-tour that a friend bought for me after he attended one of the shows that week.)

Next was “Running with the Pack”, with Paul playing lots of Piano. Howard’s take on this live was different than the monster version that can be heard on the HOB online concert played with lots of whammy bar by Geoff Whitehorn, but they both seem to work with Howard choosing to play lots of melodic notes instead. Again, Paul’s vocals delivered spot-on!

“Bad Company” was up next, with the band really tight on the tempo changes. This was a crowd favorite. The crowd was really great, with many of us giving the band a standing ovation after every song! They sang along to the words on every song.

Next up was “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. I had read on-line that he had started doing this song. I hoped he would, and he did. I think he should go right into Radioactive here, because the crowd really liked the mentioning of the band The Firm. Again, Paul’s vocals were powerful.

Then up next was “Saving Grace” from the new (old) CD, NOW. The band played it well, again Howard choosing to play more melodic notes in the fill sections than Geoff’s whammy bar style, but again it sounded really nice. And many in the crowd loved this song as I. ( I really feel that NOW will go down as the most under-rated albums of all time as judged by knowledgeable rock/blues fans.)

Then up next was a funny moment; someone gave Paul a note with $100 to play “Seagull”. After the band members egged him on, Paul strapped on a guitar for the first time and played a lovely electric solo spotlight version to the adoration of the crowd, who again seemed to know all of the words. He joked with the guitar roadie that he wanted to make sure he got that $100 bill after the show while he was handing it to him.

Following this mello interlude, he said that his next song was from a band he used to be in called Free, and that “he would like to dedicate it to a dear friend of mine, Paul Kossoff” and they went into the nice slow beginning of “Fire and Water” and then ripped away, and playing heavy and tight.

Then a nice surprise was up next with the announcement of a new Bad Company song for the next Bad Company CD. It was very much in the vein of classic Bad Co and I think it was titled “Dragging Down the Runway” or “Runaway”. It was up-tempo and featured Paul playing some nice leads and rhythm guitar. The 4 new songs on the greatest hits package should be very good if this is any indication of the quality of song writing. Look for Paul to play more guitar if Bad Co tours again.

Next up was a song he said was all about why he still is singing and touring, “Rock and Roll Fantasy”. The crowd went wild of course! They extended the ending about two minutes worth with Paul singing with eyes closed and ad-libbing some bluesy vocals like only he (with Glenn Hughes a not so close second) can do amongst the white blues singers. Truly amazing…

“Can’t Get Enough” was next up and the band and crowd were really moving now, with people finally standing and dancing, much to Paul’s enjoyment. Many times throughout the concert, Paul would say things like “What do you think about this band?!” and “This Howard Leese is really smoking!!” and once he said, “Can you believe it, Howard Leese is here?!!”. Howard and the band really beamed when he complimented them.

The band left the stage and came back on and went into “Louisiana Blues”, and surprisingly to me, the crowd really was into it with dancing and singing. Howard really ripped on his guitar for this one.

Last up was “Soul of Love”, which a real nice surprise, I fully expected “Feel Like Makin Love” but he must be keeping that one stored away for the potential Bad Company reunion tour. Again the crowd was dancing and singing the words, which I know must have made Paul very happy. He remarked many times to the crowd that their enthusiasm was greatly appreciated.

All in all, a great concert that left the crowd fully satisfied but maybe hungry for more. There were many shouts for “The Hunter” and “Wishing Well”, and I’m sure many were wanting to see “Feel Like…” but maybe next time on the Bad Co Tour!

I hope to see this line-up again before or shortly after the potential Bad Co reunion, and I highly recommend you all to do the same. It is very much worth it!!!

As a side note, Paul’s autographed CD’s, Shirts, and autographed pictures were selling very well, I was real happy to see that. When people saw my Paul Rodgers and Company English Tour Shirt, they would ask me what I thought of NOW and The Loreley Tapes, I told them what I will tell all of you that haven’t picked up a copy of these CD’s….THEY ARE AWESOME!!!! The musicians on them are AWESOME! And the Songs are AWESOME. Every time I said this, the person or persons would buy the CD’s. You are very welcome, Paul. And thank you for pointing me out in the crowd as having a “nice t-shirt!”, that made my day! Week! Month!


November 19, 1999

October 23, 1999

September 17, 1999

September 4, 1999

January 30, 1999
NAMM Convention

January 16, 1999

January 16, 1999

January 14, 1999
Redondo Beach

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