Perfection Personified:
The Paul Rodgers Band
Northern Lights Theater Milwaukee, WI - April 18, 2007




Concert Review by
Paul "Zombie" Kloiber

In the history of music, rock music to be specific, there are a handful of moments and music that can be classified as perfect. There is Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", the slide guitar solo from Duane Allman on the original "Layla" and the pure sonic brilliance of Paul Rodgers voice. Now, if you are like so many of the people I have spoken to in the last few weeks and you are saying to yourself "Who?" I will give you the litany of his credentials. Starting way back in 1968 with a band called "Free" then, onto a little band called "Bad Company". A solo career, a stint with the legendary Jimmy Page in a band called "The Firm", then "The Law" and as front man for the reformed "Queen" on their "Return of the Champions" tour. Those credits alone make him an icon. The fact that his voice is still as powerful and crisp today as it was nearly 40 years ago, make him the rock god of vocal perfection.

Howard Leese

We sat down to see this show at Potawatomi's Northern Lights Theater in the first row, having spent a good hour or so backstage while Dr. Music interviewed Paul's lead guitarist, the remarkable Howard Leese. From our vantage at the left side of the stage we were more than a little hyped up to see this show and could nearly feel the band in our laps we were so close. With the first note of the opening song, "Rock & Roll Fantasy" the entire audience was instantly on its feet and singing along. Paul's vocals were clean and smooth and the band was flawlessly tight. With bassist Lynn Sorensen waving his hands and pumping up the crowd, this opening number jump started the show like high voltage defibrillator. The crowd cheered madly as Paul flowed into the classic "Good Lovin' Gone Bad" and from there into "Runnin' With The Pack". Listening to him sing as though these songs were brand new and he was fresh on the scene was magical.

Lynn Sorensen

Continuing on, he did a rendition of "Smile" I will never forget, followed up by a truly smoking version of "Louisiana Blues". The band was so tight and smooth it was musical nirvana. Curtis Dengler is an unbelievable addition to this stellar line up. At only 17 years old he possesses a fluid playing style that leaps him past the likes of Kenny Wayne Shepperd and Johnny Lang. Between Howard's years of guitar prowess and Curtis' youthful enthusiasm, Paul Rodgers has surrounded himself with a band that I personally think is better than even the original Bad Company line up. This was proven by the next song in the set, the Bad Company anthem, "Feel Like Makin' Love". Paul soared through this classic like he was 25 again, each note sung crisply.

Jeff Kathen

Next up, he ventured down another path, this one goes by the name of "The Firm". Ripping off a killer version of "Radioactive" with Jeff Kathen keeping crisp time on the drums, it was again like this band was the song's originator. The whole band seemed to get into a groove between the wicked bass line Lynn Sorensen was playing and the vocals Paul was projecting. This was emphasized even more with the second "Firm" selection of "Satisfaction Guaranteed". Sorensen was a maniac on the bass, his fingers gliding over the strings in an effortless motion and funking it up with a tricked out bass line that made the crowd go nuts. It was absolutely stunning.

Curtis Dengler

From there we went on a blues run featuring a cover of Hendrix's "Little Wing" flowing into "Angel" which featured the whole audience singing the refrain in full voice. Paul smiled wide as he held out the mic to pick up the audience vocals, but there was no need for the mic, this audience was loud and proud and brought the house down. Switching gears ever so slightly Paul handed over the vocal reigns to Curtis and he stepped up for a smokin' vocal on "Girl". Let me tell you, not only is he one of the best blues guitarists I have ever seen, but this boy can sing too. Next up was "Wishing Well" followed by the only song in rock history to be the name of the song, the album and the band, "Bad Company". It was obvious that this was going to go down as a VERY special night.

Paul took a few seconds to chat with the audience and sign a few hats and tour books and then went into the only truly new number of the night "Warboys" off of his newly released "Live in Glasgow" CD. It was definitely a powerful number on the state of things today. From there the set closed with classic Bad Company numbers "Shooting Star" and "Can't Get Enough". As with the opening songs, the middle songs and every song in this set it was perfection personified in Paul Rodgers voice. There are legends in rock and roll, and there are stars in rock and roll, but there is only one Paul Rodgers and he transcends legends and stars to his own category&Perfection!

Paul Rodgers

Now you know that this show couldn't end on that simple of a note and I assure you it didn't. In fact, it went far beyond what ANYONE ever expected. The band retook the stage for its encore and the audience went into frenzied overdrive. Starting off with the beautiful "Saving Grace" every person there was on their feet singing and swaying with each note. Next up we got Free as Paul let us know that it's "Alright Now". I have never seen such complete audience participation. As everyone around us (and us) sang the lyrics, Paul again signed nearly any item someone handed him, including a baseball of all things. He was so into the audience and the connection between him and them, he would have kept going if not for the song's end. And with that the band gathered to the center of the stage, took a bow in unison and waved goodbye.

Guess what? Yep, you got it. It was time for a second encore. I cheated and snuck a peak at the set list taped to the floor at Curtis' mic stand, so I knew this was coming, but I was still completely blown away. For what I thought was to be the end of the show was Paul Rodgers, alone with an acoustic guitar, and a mind-blowing version of "Seagull". From the softest whisper to the notes held long and true I was completely amazed. It was the PERFECT ending to the PERFECT night. This song, with this singer, alone, acoustic, and flawless, like the Hope Diamond. That was until the audience, screaming for more and clapping vigorously brought the whole band back to the stage. They strapped on their axes and Paul yelled to Curtis to follow Howard's lead (Curtis had never even played this song in a practice) and it was blues time again with "Standin' Around Cryin'". Everyone went out of their minds as we watched the back jack it up another notch when Curtis took hold of the lead and blew the roof off the joint. He was ferocious, his fingers flying as the music took us higher and higher, and it became clear we were witnessing the birth of the next legend. The song ended to thunderous applause and a complete standing ovation as once again they bowed and left the stage.

This night had been so far beyond what I expected I felt like I was in another world. It was like a dream, a dream or music so pure it could make you cry. I wanted more, like a man coming from the dessert seeking water. It was more than want, it was need. I needed more. This had to go on!!

I got my wish as the band once again took the stage for a third encore!! I couldn't believe my eyes or ears. Was this a dream? The opening notes of "Simple Man" washed away any concerns of having lost reality and once again we were treated to classic Bad Company. By this point no one was in their seats and everyone had pretty much surrounded the stage and the tables in front of it. As the whole audience clamored and cheered the band powered forward into the last song of the night "Ready For Love". It, like the first song, the tenth song and every song in between was utterly PERFECT. Paul set a new record that night, for the longest encore set ever at Northern Lights, but I will forever remember this as the best concert I have seen in 25 years. I have been to over 800 concerts, including shows I have worked as security and special events like Live Aid in Philadelphia. Of all those show this ranks in my top three all time. Exquisite vocals from Paul, powerful crisp guitars from Howard and Curtis, thundering bass from Lynn and tight booming percussion from Jeff will forever be burned in my mind from this night. In all my reviews I have only once given an A+, and this show to that was like an A to a C&so with that in mind I offer thanks and congratulations to Paul and the whole band for my first and only A+++. You guys are now the standard by which all others will be judged!

Note: I want give a big thanks to Steve, Perry, William and the whole security staff at Northern Lights for keeping things under control and allowing myself and Dr. Music to get the real stories.

Photos: Paul Kloiber

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