August and early September have been like a gift to Paul Rodgers.
The front man for Bad Company, which begins the home stretch of its busy 40th anniversary tour with shows tomorrow (Sept. 14) in Penticton and Sunday at Esquimalt’s Bullen Field, is enjoying the perks of living in the Okanagan.
“I’ve suddenly decided September is my favourite month,” he said this week, commenting on the stunning late summer weather.
Having grown up in England and toured the world musically countless times, he has settled in B.C. with his wife, Cynthia, who hails from the Okanagan. Rodgers, now 63, became a Canadian citizen in 2011.
“I love B.C., it’s absolutely beautiful,” he said. “I’m still discovering lakes and places to go. It’s also very English in many respects. There’s a strong connection between the two countries. It’s like England with a lot more space.”
The band, also including original members Mick Ralphs on guitar and drummer Simon Kirke, kicked off the anniversary tour in mid-June with a performance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. For a group of guys in their 60s, their pace is nothing short of astounding: 16 shows in July, a few in August to allow band members to enjoy a summer break, then seven more dates in September, winding up with a show at the Los Angeles County Fair.
While this year’s focus is on celebrating 40 years of making music together, touring as Bad Company has been an almost annual event in recent years. That means they’ve stayed musically tight, Rodgers said.
“It’s been awesome. On a musical level, it’s been incredible. When we hit the stage, it’s kind of like unleashing hell.”
Many of the concerts on this year’s tour have sold out. A number of them featured opening act Lynyrd Skynyrd, another hugely popular band from the 1970s.
Such Bad Company hits as “Rock and Roll Fantasy,” “Feel Like Making Love” and “Shooting Star” still resonate with audience members,” Rodgers said.
That speaks to why many classic rock bands from past eras have begun touring again and are doing well at the gate, he added.
“I think they were very good,” he said. “But we did really pay our dues. You had to go out and play, play, play all the time. But it is possible now to have your 15 minutes of fame without having played a lot of shows. Our music is real and it comes from a point of passion.”
Most of the shows Bad Company puts on these days are in smaller venues, where concert goers can be closer to the band. Regardless of the performance space, Rodgers said it’s important that they put out “110 per cent” for the audience.
“You want to be sure it’s great music and that people have a good time. I want them to be knocked out, actually.”
Bad Company, with opening act Chilliwack, play Sept. 15 at Bullen Field. Concert time is 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $83.50 or $121 for VIP admission, available online at hightideconcerts.net, rmts.bc.ca; by phone at 1-888-222-6608 or at Ditch Records and Lyle’s Place.
by Don Descoteau