With thunder and lightning looming overhead and the stage being splashed with intermittent rain, concertgoers at Esquimalt’s Bullen Field could be forgiven for wondering whether headliner Bad Company would come out for their much-hyped show on Sunday.
With the help of a fearless crew and the weather gods, the show came off without a hitch. The couple thousand largely middle-aged fans appreciated front man Paul Rodgers and his bandmates, who flawlessly hammered out hit after classic hit, sending many in the crowd back to the days of their youth.
As the band launched into “Can’t Get Enough,” off their 1974 self-titled debut album, one crowd member recalled it was the first song he ever learned on the guitar.
On other songs, such as “Feel Like Making Love” and “Shooting Star,” both off 1975’s follow-up, Straight Shooter, the charismatic and professional Rodgers almost needed not sing, since hundreds of leather- and denim-clad fans knew and sung the words along with him.
Such straight-ahead rockers as “Rock Steady” and the eponymous “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” got the crowd going with their power. But the band showed other talents, such as the delicate mandolin strains of guitarist Mick Ralphs to open “Shooting Star” and “Feel Like Making Love,” and Rodgers’ grand piano work on “Bad Company” and “Run With the Pack.”
Talented multi-instrumentalist Rodgers kicked off the beautiful “Seagull,” the band’s second and final encore, on acoustic guitar, to be later joined by Ralphs, then drummer Simon Kirke and bassist Todd Ronning. The rhythm pair were solid as a rock throughout and appeared to thoroughly enjoy themselves.
Fans of Canadian rock were treated to a good showing from opening act Chilliwack, fronted by the ageless Bill Henderson and joined by younger brother Ed Henderson on guitar, Victoria’s Doug Edwards on bass and Esquimalt native Jerry Adolphe on drums.
Bill Henderson, who amazingly turns 69 in November, has lost little over the decades, still able to hit most of the high notes in hit songs like “Lonesome Mary,” “My Girl” and “Fly at Night.”
Not surprisingly, the difference in wattage between the two bands was evident once the headliner came on, as Bad Company’s powerful system and smoke-firing cannons made the band – essentially a three-piece – strike an immediate knockout punch with opening song “Rock and Roll Fantasy.”
– Don Descoteau