Lynyrd Skynyrd | Bad Company | Slobberbone Verizon Theater July 10, 2013
A surprisingly loud and diverse crowd made their way to Grand Prairie last night to catch an oddly matched line-up of classic rock from the '70s and '80s. And Slobberbone was there as well.
While in line for a beer, some guy asked to anyone at all, "Who the hell are Slobberbone?"
I responded, "A great local band."
"Do they have any hits?" the same guy asked.
"No, but every song should have been," was the best that I could muster.
And so the night began with Brent Best and crew blasting out some seriously loud alt-country to a very accommodating collection of forty-, fifty- and sixtysomethings. Sure, only about half of those who had purchased tickets were in attendance at that time, but Slobberbone did every bar band proud by slashing and burning through songs such as "I'll Be Damned" and "Placemat Blues" while looking like the bastard sons of the headlining band.
Next up was Bad Company, a band fronted by the 63-year-old Paul Rogers. Not only did Rogers not look his age, he sounded like a man in his 30s. Indeed, the entire band (including the 69-year-old guitarist Mick Ralphs) rocked ferociously from start to finish.
Beginning with "Rock and Roll Fantasy," Bad Company had a passion and an energy that belied the ages of both the band members and the audience that came to cheer them on.
There's nothing complex about the music of Bad Company. This is meat and potatoes rock based on the blues, but without the subtleties that Led Zeppelin raised from similar influences. Rogers has a great rock and roll voice, but his lyrics are strictly pedestrian. Nevertheless, the guy can still command a stage. Live, his songs take on a more demanding presence. Hearing Rogers belt out "Ready for Love" was like revisiting a joyful high school memory. Seeing him on stage looking fit and invigorated hopefully will inspire some audience members to mix in a salad and a few hours on the stationary bicycle.
Bad Company's best years were from 1972 to 1982 and on this night, they mined just about every chestnut that particular decade had to offer. "Feel Like Making Love," "Shooting Star," "Can't Get Enough of Your Love" and "Running with the Pack" were all standouts. Ever lesser fare like "Gone, Gone, Gone" was done with conviction and flair.
After Bad Company left the stage, the night felt complete. But there was still Lynyrd Skynyd to come. Well, sort of. This current collection of musicians touring under the Skynyrd name are all talented guys with a true love of Southern rock. However, with only one original member (guitarist Gary Rossington), this version comes across like a well-connected tribute act.
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Songs like "What's Your Name?" and "Call Me the Breeze" (both of which opened the set) were performed excellently, but there is something formulaic about having one guy (out of seven) having a legitimate connection to the original group.
What were left were the warhorses. "Free Bird" and "Sweet Home Alabama" were played to an enthusiastic crowd that raised cell phones in lieu of cigarette lighters.
While Bad Company (and Slobberbone) sounded relevant and poignant, Skynyrd came across as a pleasant-sounding, money-making operation, a business model designed by some corporate wanker from Connecticut, some person who has never been to the South and has no interest in coming here.