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Paul Rodgers

Live Radio Show Recording

Under the Bridge, Stamford Bridge

If friend and respected figure of this site Mr Rodgers fancies doing a radio show Q&A in London with some acoustic live music thrown in, would you say no to an invite to attend ? We certainly didn’t, what an honour to be asked …but first, the venue itself deserves a review. There are some monied professional football clubs here in England and the owner of ‘The Blues’ ( well that’s appropriate here ) Chelsea FC has added a plush nightclub venue named ‘ Underr The Bridge ‘ to the facilities at the club’s Fulham base known as Stamford Bridge. Mr Abramovich doesn’t do things by halves and has laid out a mint to get this place exactly as he and his designers and contractors envisioned it. The lighting and layout (latter not unlike the Comedy Store near Piccadily Circus) are first-class ; the bar service and staff attention very impressive ( London prices though!) and there is an absolutely wonderful collection of literally hundreds of rock star photo’s from many decades displayed on the walls. It is worth coming to Under the Bridge just to view these pro shots of Oasis, Beatles, Yardbirds, Rolling Stones et al.  But there’s also four-metre high waterfall, personal booths with TV screens and a hydraulically-operated stage !   Here the club’s players can relax and do what pro footballers do when they’re off duty, without any unwanted paparazzi getting indiscretions  on film. But the Russian multimillionaire is also letting the £ 20 million venue be used for musical events, there is a Blues Festival coming up with Dr John, Booker T and other major stars appearing.  On this occasion, Planet Rock the London based rock music station gets to  host the afternoon and to broadcast the event a few nights later. Everything gets under way pretty much on time and as planned ; earlier your scribe runs into PR’s presenter Nicky Horne and his clipboard of questions assembled for the artist to ponder and respond.  “ Ask him when he’s going to make an album with Jeff Beck, Nicky !” I offer. Horne nods approval. “ Shall I put that in ?” he muses. “ Better not “, I concede – “ Paul will know damn well who asked it…”. ( This will make more sense as an exchange if you read the interview we did with Paul Rodgers some time ago, do have a look not least for a great Joe Walsh story ).

Under the Bridge Venue

With a major tour coming up and plenty to plan and think about, you couldn’t have blamed Paul for getting this over quickly and coldly.  Not a bit of it, Rodgers smiles as he is welcomed to the stage and remains good-natured, almost TOO open in his answers to queries and even finds time to say hello to the writers, friends and punters after the session. You can often say of Paul “ He doesn’t have to do that “ – on special events, charity work and gigs, being courteous to fans etc – but time and again, he will. The lovely Cynthia ( Mrs R ) is on hand to warm the occasion and spend time talking with us writers as well as with friends and followers, all with good grace, patience and a generous spirit.

Nicky Horne deftly nixes any jokes about his height by getting in first and introduces Paul. The twist is this tail is that the Planet Rock listeners who had suggested questions to be put to Paul were distilled down to the best whereupon the query originators were all invited with a guest to come to the taping and be greeted by Rodgers as the listed questions were put to the singer. A nice touch and fruitful in that the room was full of true fans as well as the label folk and the press/ photographers. The queries were of good quality, centering on work with Free, Bad Company, The Firm ( with Jimmy Page of course ), Queen ; we also learned the origins of the song ‘Feel Like Making Love’ AND heard it played acoustically !

One listener wrung from Rodgers the promise of another Blues album, a notion warmly received given that most of the ‘ Muddy Waters Blues ‘ album is very good indeed. Beck appears on that release, but I like the Rodgers/Beck version of ‘On Broadway’ which was included in a cowboy film soundtrack. I’m the only person to have heard it, talking to other musicians ! Also discussed, the relative merits of composing on guitar or keyboard and current band members – Jason Bonham is drumming on this stint, with Howard Leese from Heart on guitar and Lyn Sorenson on bass.  HOWEVER, Paul is most animated and expressive when talking about OTHER artists, such as Sam Moore ( Sam and Dave ) and his original heroes The Four Tops. Rodgers was invited to attend an anniversary show by the Tops, not realising at first that he was required to sing. Sounds like it meant the world to him, respect from contemporaries cannot be taken for granted. I always think that if you stay a fan even when you yourself are successful and feted, you will make better music throughout your life. Just think of those that start believing their own publicity and whose feet start leaving the ground….Rodgers won’t ever join that set, I hope.

The music choices for the set were interesting to say the least – the Free days gem ‘Soon I Will  Be Gone’ ( oh for a Nick Clegg cover ) received a forceful strumming and loping cadence that carried the vocal really well  ;  the number for Queen ‘Take Love ‘ sounded fresh as a daisy after spring rain, Marcus Wolfe on 6 and 12 strings adding to the performances. Did I mention the grainy harp interlude by Paul on ‘Feel..’ ?   The early Bad Company reflective piece ‘ Seagull ‘ seems to have grown on Rodgers since he wrote it for late inclusion in the debut album as he features it is many shows now.  Oh and when asked if filling F Mercury’s ( singing ) shoes had been difficult, Paul admitted that the leotards had posed more problems…to hear the same wry humour from Rodgers over forty years since I first talked to him at a Free gig is no bad thing…

Pete Sargeant      www.fairhearing.co.uk

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