For my money, Paul Rodgers' place in rock music is often forgotten because of his underrated performances. As I noted in an earlier review, he's been lending his strong vocals to several different bands over the last few decades and achieving success with each of them. But the band he's had the most success with is Bad Company, a group he helped put together way back in 1973.
With fellow Free band mate (and drummer) Simon Kirke, former Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs and King Crimson bassist Boz Burrell, he produced some of the better-known rock songs of the era, including "Superstar," "Can't Get Enough" and "Feel Like Makin' Love." Their self-titled debut album went platinum five times over, and four of their first five albums placed within the Top 5 album sales. Their singles would usually reach the top of the Billboard Rock charts in America.
Like most long-touring acts, the artists grew out of sorts with one another through the years, with Rodgers leaving the group in 1982. He eventually did return in 1998 and the band even toured, though without Ralphs and Burrell. Rodgers left the band again in 2002, which was unfortunately the last time the band's original lineup was together, as Burrell died of a heart attack in 2006.
Yet the band apparently still had the itch for playing and decided to play again with Ralphs returning to the fold. While they toured for a handful of dates in 2009 (and presumably are expanding their schedule in 2010), what restarted their performing together was a concert on August 8, 2008, performed at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The 90-minute set list is as follows:
"Gone, Gone, Gone"
"Run with the Pack"
"Live for the Music"
"Feel Like Makin' Love"
"Can't Get Enough"
"Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy"
"Ready for Love"
"Good Lovin' Gone Bad"
When you see bands in the "reunion" stages of their careers, it's easy to write them off as merely reaching for some extra coin, slugging their way along through the hits. And there are plenty of hits peppered throughout the show. Rodgers, Kirke, et al perform them in a way that keeps them fresh and somewhat relevant without repeating the album's masters, which is another tactic that bands tend to employ. Rodgers' strong vocals are even more impressive when you consider he was 58 at the time of this show; of all the '70s performers trying to get it done today, his voice remains the strongest.
The band's other musicians are equally up to the task; Kirke was a strong drummer back in the day, rivaled only by the late John Bonham in terms of power and controlled fury. While he can't play the skins as strong as he used to, he's refined his art a little more, proving to be a more technically proficient drummer, focusing more on precision than strength. Ralphs' guitar skills make for a perfect storm of rock nostalgia; we remember what BadCo was to many people before, and now that they're performing with increasing frequency, what they can be again.
That's what makes this show at the Hard Rock special; it launched so many ideas for the band. It might not be the best performance of their career, but it's one of the more essential ones, and they deliver, hopefully sewing a few more creative seeds in the process.
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Bad Company is not a bad looking disc. The print is in good shape and there aren't any noticeable bouts of edge-enhancement plaguing the disc. Flesh tones and concert lighting are replicated accurately and without noise issues in the picture. The overall result is solid, if not unremarkable concert video.
You get your choice of Dolby two-channel stereo or six-channel surround offerings, along with a DTS 5.1 sound option. The concert sounds fine within the confines of its lossy soundtrack, with Rodgers' vocals and the group harmonies strong and panning along the front channels depending on his stage movements. Kirke's drumming are quality on the concert too. There may not be as much use of the rear speakers as one would hope on a performance disc, but the music is quality.
Iif you don't count a CD of the concert that comes with the disc, there's a trailer (2:18) touting the concert on the DVD, and that's it.
The performance of Bad Company at the Hard Rock provides just enough music for long-time fans of the band to remember, but for more curious parties yearning for rock music, this is a valuable source, since the ones out there now don't seem to be much help. The combo package provides the best value and is strongly worth considering a purchase.