LYNN — A rare thing happened at Saturday night’s Bad Company show at Lynn Auditorium: The band and audience were both at the top of their games, ready to party and give it their all.
This might have been the loudest, happiest and most involved crowd I’ve ever seen at the venue.
Bad Company, the British band led by powerhouse vocalist Paul Rodgers and original drummer Simon Kirke, was/is one of rock ‘n’ roll’s finest outfits. Their self-titled debut album in 1974 remains a classic; rock radio has their hits “Can’t Get Enough,” “Movin On” and “Ready for Love” in steady rotation. Those three tunes were performed with gusto Saturday night, and the audience stood and sang — nay, cathartically screamed — every word.
Rodgers and Kirke are aided these days by bassist Todd Ronning and guitar master Howard Leese, who spent 23 years with the Wilson sisters in Heart. Leese is still playing with heart, adding tasteful, bluesy flourishes to the solos created by Bad Company co-founder Mick Ralphs. (Ralphs is recovering from a 2016 stroke; he’s made progress but has given up the road for now, according to published reports.)
“Run With the Pack,” with Rodgers at the piano, kicked things off in splendid fashion. Song No. 2, the hard-rocking “Can’t Get Enough,” sent the show into overdrive, the capacity crowd moving and grooving and flashing wide grins.
The set list was sublime. “Live For the Music” and “Movin On” were rocking, bluesy gems. “Feel Like Making Love,” with Rodgers blowing a bit of harmonica and the rhythm section in perfect sync, sent the crowd into delirium. “Ready For Love,” a Ralphs song that first appeared on an album by his former band Mott the Hoople, was a standout.
On “Seagull,” a ballad from the debut album, Rodgers played solo acoustic guitar and sang the hippie-dippy lyrics that were likely written by Rodgers and Ralphs after a toke or three back in the day. The audience loved it.
The closing three-pack of “Shooting Star,” the song “Bad Company” and “All Right Now,” a massive worldwide hit in 1970 for Rodgers/Kirke’s former band Free, were wondrous. The encore, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy,” sent everybody home happy.
Rodgers was in excellent voice all night. He was an animated frontman, twirling the mic stand and encouraging audience participation, not that the mostly Baby Boomer crowd needed any prompting. He also gave his bandmates a chance to shine. Kirke played acoustic guitar and sang lead on “All Because of You,” a love song to his wife. Leese did double duty on “All Along the Watchtower,” which was more Hendrix than Dylan, singing and unleashing a mindblowing solo.