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Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisPretty much every rock and roll band that has stood the test of time has an equally colorful back story as the songs themselves and Bad Company is certainly no exception. After blasting to fame throughout the 1970s on the famed Swan Song/Atlantic label (also the home to Led Zeppelin), the group also became a fixture of the early '80s before splintering into separate camps that miraculously managed to continue having success independent of one another.
In one corner was front man Paul Rodgers (originally of Free fame), who started out solo, formed the super group The Firm (which included legendary Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page), rebounded with The Law (alongside Faces/The Who's Kenney Jones) and even fronted Queen for a few years before returning to the solo fold. All the while, Bad Company remained in the public eye with a pair of replacement singers that yielded a slew of singles throughout the second half of the '80s through early '90s, followed by a brief reconnection with Rodgers in the late '90s.
Past line-up shifts aside, all the surviving original members have reunited in honor of its 40th anniversary, which means fans finally get to see Rodgers, guitarist Mick Ralphs (who first gained notoriety with Mott The Hoople) and drummer Simon Kirke (also from Free), along with auxiliary guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Todd Ronning (filling in for the departed Boz Burrell, also known for his time with King Crimson). Add it all up, and it meant a sold out visit to The Venue At Horseshoe Casino in Hammond as part of its first tour through North America in eons.
Throughout a lean but a little too short 80-minute set, Rodgers' vocal chops were just as blustery as back in the day, while the chemistry amongst musicians was so strong it made all the ensuing years melt away within minutes. From the launch of "Rock N' Roll Fantasy" through "Run With The Pack" and "Feel Like Makin' Love," it was clear the reinvigorated Bad Company meant business, and besides displaying the band's classic rock backbone, the players also liberally applied their bluesy influences.
Fierce jams like "Ready For Love" and "Honey Child" were juxtaposed with sing-a-longs like "Shooting Star" and "Can't Get Enough," all resonating with an unrelenting fire that doesn't typically find its way onto like-minded reunion tours. By an encore of "Bad Company" and "Rock Steady," the guys looked like they were ready to ramp up to the arena circuit again, and whatever caused their dissolutions in the past seemed to have been permanently forgotten. While the true test will be any new material Bad Company may consider recording, at least this greatest hits revue indicated the passion to collaborate together has returned with just as much force as the first time around.
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