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Paul Rodgers / Down 'N' Outz http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/6a/c4/b2/1431_paulrodgerslivesplash_1310413535.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 11, 2011    
 
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Paul Rodgers / Down 'N' Outz  - Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield (UK) - 16th of April 2011.

It's always a pleasure to visit the excellent City Hall with its huge stage, perfect acoustics and a layout that gives a great view from every corner of the theatre. I hadn't seen Paul Rodgers in quite a while so I was looking forward to his set, but first there's the small matter of the support band, and in this case it's Joe Elliott and his Down'N'Outz.

Now, there are many younger Def Leppard fans who just don't get what Joe is trying to do with this side project, which also features most of The Quireboys and new bassist Snake (ex-Thunder). He's had pretty much the same reaction as Def Leppard got to their covers album 'Yeah'. It seems that people just don't understand why a musician would be influenced by an earlier era of music than the one they play, and it's no secret that most of Joe's heroes are from the early to mid 70's, so it should come as no surprise that his latest collection of songs from Mott The Hoople and their immediate family tree should be greeted with a certain bemusement by much of the healthily populated theatre. It probably makes it worse that all of the Hoople's three biggest hits are omitted. Obviously some people know the likes of Ian Hunter's 'Golden Opportunity' and 'Overnight Angels' from the version of the debut Down 'n' Outz album that was given away with Classic Rock, ditto the Mott song 'Shouting And Pointing' and the closing rock n roll classic 'Good Times', but there was polite applause for the lesser known British Lions opener 'One More Chance To Run' or the two Mott The Hoople songs that weren't on the album, 'Rock And Roll Queen' and 'One Of The Boys'. Joe was in good shape and covering Ian Hunter's world-weary rasp suits his voice, and in Paul Guerin and Guy Griffin he has a great guitar team whose style is in the best tradition of playing the perfect thing for the song, not to mention drummer Phil Martini, who's a total powerhouse. The highlight of the set was, yet again, the catchy 'England Rocks', but with a large amount of Def Leppard t-shirts in evidence I feel they missed a trick by leaving 'Animal' out of the set, or at least re-working another Leppard tune that would have fitted in.

It's been a few years since I'd last seen Paul Rodgers, and this time he had a stripped down three piece band consisting of bassist Todd Ronning, ex-Heart guitarist Howard Leese and drummer Jason Bonham. I'd seen Leese several times before with both Heart and Rodgers, but always in tandem with another lead guitarist, so I was curious to see him play the role of the lone axe slinger, and with Bonham playing better than I'd ever seen him before on the recent Black Country Communion tour, I knew I was in for an interesting evening.

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With a perfect sound from the off, Rodgers and band went straight into the Free back catalogue with the lesser known 'Walk In My Shadow', Rodgers rolling back the years to deliver a great vocal, along with the classics 'Wishing Well' and 'Fire & Water', both featuring tasteful solos from Leese and Bonham grinning from ear to ear. The first Bad Company classic, 'Feel Like Makin' Love', is rapturously received, before a string of oddities from Rodgers' back catalogue temporarily stop the dancers in the crowd, including the unrecorded 'Take Love' (intended for the Queen + PR album), Free's 'Be My Friend' and The Firm's 'Satisfaction Guaranteed', all working pretty well despite their unfamiliarity to a lot of the audience. From that point it was Bad Company and Free almost all the way, with the best moments saved for the former's 'Run With The Pack', a huge sing-along to 'Shooting Star', the underrated 'Rock And Roll Fantasy' and set closer 'Can't Get Enough', and Free providing the bulk with the eternal 'Mr Big', and 'My Brother Jake' being the highlights. Howard Leese shone the brightest on the Free encores 'Ride On A Pony' and the timeless 'All Right Now', whilst the second encore was a version of Free's version of 'The Hunter'. All in all this was one of the best Paul Rodgers sets I've seen, his voice was perfect, the band did the classics proud and the crowd just lapped it up.

Phil Ashcroft

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