If there’s going to be a celebration of Free music, led by the still stellar voice of Paul Rodgers, and that celebration is going to be recorded and filmed, best make it the sold-out show at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall.
Recorded at the world famous London venue on the 28h May 2017, the last date of Paul Rodgers’ successful music of Free tour, Free Spirit the album is a first class memento of Free Spirit the show featuring Pal Rodgers and Pete Bullick (guitars), Ian Rowley (bass), Rich Newman (drums) and Gerard “G” Lewis (keyboards).
‘Little Bit of Love’ gets the Free flowing party started in fine style, Ian Rowley and Rich Newman making it as much about the groove as the rhythm, while Pete Bullick plays six-string foil to one of the greatest voices in rock, from the now classic late 60s and 70s era through to the current day.
Still vocally fit, Paul Rodgers sings back the years as if it were yesterday and not the four-and-half to five decades since the likes of ‘Wishing Well,’ ‘My Brother Jake’ and ‘All Right Now’ were first heard on rock radio and deeper Free cuts graced the vinyl grooves (kudos to Rodgers for not scripting a Greatest Hits set).
There’s even space for songs never performed live by Free – soulful ballad ‘Love You So’ from Highway gets an airing as does Catch a Train, the opening number from Free at Last.
The latter number closes out the sixteen song collection in big, brash and barnstorming style.
It’s also worth noting this is no official Free tribute band; as already stated this is a celebration of Free music as opposed to any sort of pastiche.
But then it couldn’t be done any other way – the late Andy Fraser had a unique bass style; dovetailing with Simon Kirke the pair delivered a powerful but uncluttered rhythm that allowed Paul Kossoff and Rodgers to fill the space.
The legendary Paul Kossoff was one of the great rock guitarists; his lazy but beautifully effective style of playing and quick-fire vibrato are hard if not impossible to emulate.
Paul Rodgers and band honour the spirit of the originals but with their own style – the rhythm section may be a little too busy for some but it’s effective enough and Pete Bullick captures the essence of Paul Kossoff without ever trying to copy (but then no other guitarist should, nor probably could).
Bullick also shines on a number of the solos, including the ever blues-soulful ‘Be My Friend’ and the aforementioned ‘Love You So.’
There have been a number of Bad Company reunion shows, tours and live releases in recent years.
Now, fifty years on from when a young Paul Rodgers met an even younger Paul Kossoff and decided to form a band with Simon Kirke and Andy Fraser, Rodgers’ other lasting band legacy from the days when British blues rock giants walked the earth has deservedly been toured and showcased – in Free spirit.
Free Spirit is available in multiple formats:
Blu-ray (with bonus opening performances from Jasmine Rodgers and Deborah Bonham) + tour booklet
3LP (with bonus opening content from Jasmine Rodgers and Deborah Bonham) + tour booklet
CD/DVD + tour booklet; Digital release
Also see a review of Paul’s son, Steve Rodgers at the above link.