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28 April 2011 1,838 views 4 Comments

Until last night I hadn’t seen Paul Rodgers perform a Bad Company song for over 30 years – or a Free song since that night for Ahmet at the 02 in 2007. That was all put to right when I witnessed an utterly splendid performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Paul took to the stage with a band line up featuring Jason Bonham on drums and immediately set the tone of the evening with a great version of Free’s Walk In My Shadow. From then on it was a definite case of what was not to like, as the singer delved into his 40 year plus rich back catalogue of work.

Aside from Paul singing with a verve and passion that defied the years ,what was so refreshing hearing the likes of Wishing Well,Mr Big, Feel Like Making Love, Fire & Water,Run With The Pack, Bad Company, Rock And Roll Fantasy (what a set list!) was the pure economy of the arrangements. They stayed true to the originals without ever sounding staid –guitarist Howard Leese displaying a total understanding of what was required reaping a sweet tone from his Paul Smith guitar(‘’I take playing the Paul Kossoff material very seriously indeed’’ he told me afterwards.

Jason was…well pure Jason showing his maturity as a musician of class and integrity as he beefed up and laid off the beat in Simon Kirke style as required. Guest vocalist Mica Paris traded soulful lines with Paul on Be My Friend and Mick Ralphs was a welcome addition as they romped through the classic Can’t Get Enough.

Jason on stage at the Royal Albert Hall April 27th 2011

In between all that, they performed some of my favourite songs of all time namely My Brother Jake (come on how good is that tune!),Shooting Star and an affectionate nod to Jimi Hendrix with a medley of Little Wing and Angel that also had a lovely Wind Cries Mary coda.

Encores: A rousing All Right Now that had Paul effortlessly working the crowd, a powerful Ride on a Pony and a pleasing The Hunter performed with all the enthusiasm that the young Rodgers displayed that night in Sunderland and Croydon way back when this trio of songs were recorded for the seminal Free Live album.

All in all this was a masterclass in how to present a catalogue of some of the greatest rock songs ever and make them live again in the heart and souls of every single person in the venue. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some great occasions at the historic Royal Albert Hall . This night in the company of Paul Rodgers can take its place with the best of them.

Afterwards it was great to catch up with Mick Wall, Debbie Bonham and Pete Bullick and Guy Griffin of The Quireboys who had appeared in Joe Elliot’s Down ‘N’ Outz line up as support. Local Bedford boy Guy once worked with me at Our Price and he informed me I was the first person to ever write a review about him when I covered one of his early bands for the local paper. Jason was of course holding court – showing us a clip of the excellent JBLZE – NBA promo clip of Black Dog he cut with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger.

Tour manager Jody Carson was intrigued to hear that Tom had taken a photo of her Dad appearing with Zep in Frankfurt which can be seen in the forthcoming Led Zeppelin Feather In the Wind Over Europe 1980 book.

All in all this was an inspiring night out and a welcome tonic amongst all the hustle and bustle of many impending deadlines ie completing the book, working on the magazine etc etc.

Tom and I ( quick aside – beforehand we had nipped over to Fopp in Charring Cross Road –they have the Led Zep photo book Good Times Bad Times at just £3!  Get in there!) came away from that great venue on a great night with the a spring in our step reminiscent of some of our other past sojourns.

The Over Europe 2 outside Albert’s place April 27th 2011

Two of which are somewhat timely.

29 years ago on the night of July 21st 1982 we attended the Princes Trust charity show at London’s Dominion Theatre – this marked Robert Plant’s first London appearance since the demise of Zep as he zipped through Worse Than Detroit from the just released Pictures At Eleven.

On that night Tom and myself were lucky enough to meet Prince Charles and I remember Tom congratulating him on the birth of his first born son William just a month earlier.

That aforementioned son William of course will be the centre of wide world focus of attention when he marries Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey tomorrow.

I am all for the pomp and circumstance this historic occasion will set in motion as the nation comes together to share in their happiness. I’ll be toasting the happy couple tomorrow and thinking back to that night when we were in the presence of royalty on another remarkable night out.

The over Europe 2 in the presence of Prince William’s father – July 21st 1982

An equally remarkable night occurred 30 years ago on May 4th 1981.

That was the day – a Monday May bank holiday that Tom drove us up to Retford in Nottingham to see The Honeydrippers perform at the tiny Retford  Porterhouse club. It was the first time we had seen Robert perform since the Munich show on the Over Europe tour. Many things of course had happened in between. That gig sticks right in the memory for many reasons, not least because it was the night I realised very clearly that there was going to be life after Zep. The singer was still going to sing his songs – albeit in very different circumstances than what had gone before.

It was an emotional occasion for sure – and 30 years on he is still well capable of prompting similar heartfelt reactions – as those lucky enough to be in attendance at Monday’s Santa Barbara show when Robert performed All My Love in full for the first time since 1980 will testify. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing a you tube clip of that.

World Record Store Day was a right result. Dec got to the Rough Trade shop in Portobello Road  at 6.30am and was 5th in line – Tom and I made it for about 8.45. it was great to see a queue outside a record shop and people talking about records, buying records and getting excitied about records. As it should be – as it once was.

I got the Queen, Sandy Denny, Doctor Who limited seven inche singles and New Order Ceremony 12 inch plus at the fair later, lovely vinyl bootlegs of Zep 3/4 outtakes and the Stones Exile On Main Street. We later rounded off this very eventful day watching the City v Utd cup semi final in a pub in Kings Cross and talking the usual bollocks about you guessed it records(not to mention wine ,women and song) as the pints went down. As Lou Reed once sang …it was a perfect day and one for the memoirs believe me. Roll on next year’s event.

Loads on here – Awaiting final book proofs today to have a final look over before it rolls on the presses, ongoing work on TBL29 plus various other bits. I conducted a great interview with Jason Bonham on Tuesday night for the new TBL which is yet another reason to be on board for the 2011 subscriptions.

DL and Jason – London April 26th 2011

The Over Europe 2 with Jason – Royal Albert Hall April 27th 2011

We take Sam back to Norwich for her last weeks at UNI this weekend –her work experience at the Independent saw her name credited on a fair few features. My mate Tom catches up with me in the age stakes next week- Happy birthday old boy (and to you Mr Boud on May 8th!).

Cue the music ….Gotta be track three side one of LZ3 –Celebration Day naturally and the celebrations commence tomorrow of course at the Abbey. The TBL champagne is all ready to toast the royal couple….have a great royal wedding dominated weekend..







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  • Kathy Urich said:

    While watching the NBA Playoffs (the NBA another obsession of mine, Capricorns never doing anything less then obsessed);I was reading the paper while waiting for the game to start and I here “Black Dog”. Could it be Zeppelin reunited and and I some how missed the fantastic news. No it was not the whole crew, but I see Jason and, who I later realize is the lead singer for the Pussycat Dolls, smashing. I do wish the clip was longer, but it is very cool. Dave I finished the Knebworth book it was fantastic, I love the personal stories it really made histroy live between the pages. Can’t wait for your new book. I just received some mail from e-bay – “In Their Own Words” abit worn but a great read, and The 2006 Issue of Guitar World with Jimmy and my other favorite guitarist Jack White. Congrats to Will & Kate.

  • Lorraine Robertson said:

    A great read as always Dave and I love the pics….is there anyone you havent been phtographed with ??!!!
    God bless Wills and Kate…and TBL ………………….xxx

  • Mark Harrison said:

    All great stuff Dave – thanks for keeping us informed!But the pic of Prince Charles – that’s him meeting “Soft Cell” surely!! Tainted Love indeed!!
    All the Best

  • shelfsidemark said:

    Great to have ones photo taken with HRH.
    Ol’Charlie boy looks like he’s been ‘Out On The Tiles’
    and the royal protection officer looks like he could kill….
    in a variety of different ways !

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