After so many years of rock music, everyone should know the name Paul Rodgers and either the band Bad Company or Free. Between these three names, there have been so many great timeless rock songs that it only feels natural to have an endless amount of respect for the bloke.
When he announced that he was doing a Free only set in Glasgow I jumped at the idea and tried to acquire tickets. Unfortunately for me, due to the many other shows announced for this summer, I simply could not afford the hefty prices. Not long after, there was a competition announced by the website Tunespeak and after a month or two of waiting, it turns out that I actually won two tickets to see the show. You would look at this company’s website and think it is all a sham, but to their credit they were quite accessible, willing to help and delivered on what they promised.
The Free Spirit tour was being held in the funny looking Clyde Auditorium, a venue that seems to be getting a lot of coverage here as of late. Like always, the doors were opened on time, the staff seemed to have absolutely no emotion, didn’t help anyone to their seats and the prices for a snack and or drink was well beyond extortion. Nothing ever changes with this place.
My son and I were lucky to have won tickets for the middle of row H, seats 25 and 26 to be exact. These seats were bang smack in the middle of the venue and had an absolutely cracking view. Admittedly, after noticing the price being £0.00 on my ticket, I felt bad for those around me who had paid so much for their seats but it did not stop us bragging at every given opportunity. Who wouldn’t, right?
The tour support came from Debra Bonham, the sister of the late great Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and auntie to the superb drummer Jason Bonham. I didn’t keep track of the amount of songs played or how long the lady was on stage, but she did an admirable job doing what she did. Bonham’s set was stripped down to only herself and her guitarist Doug Boyle, who himself has fame with former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant during his string of ’80s hits.
Both musicians sounded as clear as day with a nice big sound, impressive considering the circumstances. Debra sang her heart out with her performance clearly improving as her set went on. After every song, more and more people were standing to applaud and she literally had those who bothered to turn up for her set eating out of her hands. Her last number which sadly I missed the name of, was easily the finest number of her set, resulting in a well deserved standing ovation.
Though the set was simple, the fact that I had no idea who the lady was (until I got home) and that I had never heard any of her songs before, we had a blast. The set was well paced, laid back and quite good humoured. There really wasn’t much to complain about with the exception of perhaps it would have been better with a full band. It was good fun regardless.
Paul Rodgers took to the stage at 8:45pm after a half hour rest between acts. The band immediately jumped into Little Bit of Love, a great classic rock song. I was surprised at how the band approached this number. The tradition for rock bands is to play the songs a little faster than the studio versions. This was not the case here as the band played these songs with top precision keeping the music very faithful to the original recordings.
As the band played through timeless classics like Ride On A Pony, Travelling Man and Be My Friend, it was clear that this band of musicians were right for the job. The rhythm section was incredibly solid, the bands lead guitarist was melodic but powerful and Paul Rodgers himself was in fine shape as he wailed through these oldies like they were nothing.
The group continued through their set list with the likes of Travellin’ In Style, My Brother Jake and The Stealer. Each song sounded wonderful, superbly performed and with every song, more and more people were getting up to dance or rock out to their best of their ability. All Hell broke loose by the time that the band got round to blasting out a wonderful blistering rendition of The Hunter. Paul Rodgers told the crowd get up and move around. Naturally, this meant that all those looking to rock out moved down to the front of the stage, much to the annoyance of the frequently constipated security personal. This move was a wise choice as the atmosphere went from good to great with people getting up close and personal with the band.
The set was finished up with the sing a long hit, All Right Now. A predictable choice but no one was complaining. By this point my son and I had joined the crowd down at the front for a great view. Even when we were perched next to the stage monitors, the sound was still crystal clear, impressive considering how loud it was. The band left the stage to practice the mandatory encore moment. The crowd didn’t let up and were just cheering their brains out by the time the band walked on to play Cross Road Blues, a Robert Johnson cover version. They followed up with Fire And Water and rounded off the set with Woman.
The band with no hesitation left the stage without so much as a good bye, a bit of a surprise if I’m honest. With the kind of mind melting applause that the band got, you’d think that they would have at least taken a bow, but nope. Instead of the usual band goodbye the lights came on and everyone but the souvenir hunters scattered to the nearest exit like cockroach’s in a McDonald’s kitchen. On our way out, we got to say goodbye to the many people we met that night, all of which I hope got home safe and sound. A fine example of a great crowd, extremely friendly and an absolute blast to be involved in.
Despite being FAR too young to have seen Free live in person, I got to see one of rocks finest vocalists doing all the songs I could have hoped for in person. On top of that, the band were absolutely spot on. I also loved their sound, heavy and loud enough without turning into audible mush like most concerts these days. The Free Spirit tour was a fantastic idea, was a great treat for the fans of old and an absolute honour for someone like myself who’ll probably never get to hear these songs live again. If you at least enjoy Paul Rodgers’ back catalogue, this is a great show to see. If you are a big Free fan, well this is simply a must see tour.