REVIEW: Bad Company, Richie Sambora + Orianthi and Steve Rodgers, Metro Radio Arena

Richie Sambora and Orianthi

Richie Sambora and Orianthi

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It takes some guts to stand in front of thousands of people with no music, no fancy lights and sing a haunting acapella with just the audience clapping in time. That is exactly what support act Steve Rodgers did during Cup of Light which closed his short but hugely impressive set.

Blessed with a powerful, melodic Bluesy voice, Rodgers kept the ever growing crowd transfixed throughout his set that included the Eastern flavoured Sunshine and set opener Messed Up.

Paul Rodgers

Paul Rodgers

Having grown up in a musical environment and with the DNA of Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers flowing through his veins this was one accomplished performance. His dad may have been the headliner but make no mistake, Steve Rodgers was here on his own merits and left the stage winning over a whole new legion of fans.

Having spent over three decades in Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora sensationally left a couple of years ago and the reasons still remain something of a mystery. Whatever the causes of the break up Sambora is back with a new band,RSO, featuring one time Alice Cooper and Michael Jackson guitarist Orianthi.

Kicking off with a surprising cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On initially had Sambora struggling in the vocal department but a swift change of guitars and the opening refrain of Bon Jovi`s Wanted Dead or Alive soon had the show back on track.

It has been said that Jon Bon Jovi was the second best singer in Bon Jovi. Sambora`s rich, Blues edged voice certainly brought a different dimension to Bon Jovi’s sound and at the Metro Arena he had the opportunity to show it off.

Orianthi also had the chance to show just why Alice Cooper and Michael Jackson chose her for their bands. This girl can play, big time and she is blessed with a great voice too. Her own song Heaven In This Hell could certainly crack the charts if put on radio playlists.

A cover of I Got You Babe could easily have been dispensed with and replaced with one of their own songs especially when Sambora’s Stranger In The Town showcased his vocals and guitar playing. More of this would have been warmly welcomed

All was forgiven though as they closed with a storming Livin’ On A Prayer. Of course, the arena exploded in delight. Quite a way to end their set on a huge high and the standing ovation was proof of a crowd well and truly won over.

Newcastle is the closest to a hometown show Paul Rodgers will get on this tour as Bad Company returned to the region for their first show in several years.

Still featuring three original members including Rodgers himself, drummer Simon Kirke and guitarist Mick Ralphs is something of a rarity for a band with such a long heritage. They may be older but they have lost none of that magic that gave them huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic.

Opening song, Live For The Music could be the bands clarion call and with music like this how could they fail. Big hit, Feel Like Makin’ Love came early in the set and highlighted the strength in depth of their back catalogue and ensured the crowd was warmed up early and on their feet right from the start.

Bad Company have so many better songs in their set besides the radio hits and Electricland showed that with its moody verse and truly soaring chorus that highlighted Rodger’s effortless vocal range to perfection. This was spine-tingling stuff.

Burnin’ Sky showed the darker side of the band as the atmospherics were enhanced by some effective projections onto the huge video screens.

There was no mid set lull to be seen as Run With The Pack and Ready For Love kept the tempo running.

It wasn’t all old songs though, the newly written Troubleshooter was a surprise inclusion in the set. It may be new but the hallmarks of classic Bad Company were engrained in its very fabric from the glorious Rodgers vocal to the great harmonies of Ralphs and second guitarist Howard Leese. Again the videos added to the ambience as startling photos of The Somme, Tiananmen Square and the flag raising at Iwo Jima flashed across the screens.

With the home stretch including big hitters Shooting Star, Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy and Classic Rock radio staple Can`t Get Enough there was no way the show could end on anything but a huge high.

As the two encores of Bad Company and Seagull brought the show to an end people started filing out of the hall but a strong, majority continued to call for more. Those who left missed a real treat. Bad Company returned for a third encore and absolutely tore through The Hunter. This was the only time on the tour that this has been performed and they played it with such venom with Rodgers drawing on hidden reserves of energy. That song was especially for his local crowd.

Paul Rodgers is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats. While most of his peers are struggling to capture their former glories, Rodgers just seems to get better with age and his performance after one and a half hours during The Hunter was stunning. Few singers can maintain that level of passion and intensity for a whole show but Rodgers is a master of his craft.

Bad Company may have been around the block a few times but in Newcastle they proved once again why they are one of the UK’s great rock bands with a set packed with classics and a performance that only years on the road can produce. Bad Company gave arguably the best show the arena has experienced this year.