Rock lu­mi­nar­ies to per­form ‘Big Gig’

Aug. 4 con­cert a treat for clas­sic rock con­nois­seurs

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Binga­man bbinga­man@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @bri­an­binga­man on Twit­ter

This year’s 102.9 WMGK “Big Gig” con­cert on Aug. 4 of­fers a com­pelling power trio of clas­sic rock lu­mi­nar­ies.

Luck­ily for the Philadel­phia ra­dio sta­tion, the “Stars Align” Tour with Ann Wil­son, Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers (the lead singer of Bad Com­pany, Free and The Firm) was al­ready go­ing to be in this part of the coun­try. Putting a dis­tinctly lo­cal stamp on the tour’s stop at the BB&T Pavil­ion in Cam­den, N.J. will be an open­ing set by this year’s reign­ing MGK House Band, Delaware County’s The Mad Trio. Ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from MGK, there will be pre-con­cert ac­tiv­i­ties, such as games and give­aways, hosted by the on-air staff through­out the day, lead­ing up to the open­ing of the gates at 6:30 p.m.

The pow­er­house voice of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Heart, Wil­son will be re­leas­ing a solo al­bum Sept. 14, ti­tled “Im­mor­tal” — a col­lec­tion of cover songs pay­ing trib­ute to some of her fa­vorite artists that have passed away.

En­shrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a mem­ber of The Yard­birds and as a solo artist, eight-time Grammy-win­ning gui­tar vir­tu­oso Jeff Beck has taken turns with Paul Rodgers clos­ing the “Stars Align” shows.

“Jeff Beck, I do be­lieve he’s in a league of his own,” com­mented Rodgers, a song­writer, multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist and the singer of such en­dur­ing songs as “All Right Now,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Can’t Get Enough” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Fan­tasy.”

In a phone in­ter­view, Rodgers said that he first met Beck in the 1980s dur­ing a rock tour pro­mot­ing Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis re­search, that also in­cluded Eric Clap­ton,

Joe Cocker and his fu­ture band­mate in The Firm, Jimmy Page. Beck and Rodgers would later col­lab­o­rate on a Muddy Wa­ters trib­ute al­bum in 1993.

In­spired by the suc­cess of a re­cent Euro­pean tour fo­cus­ing on the 1969-1973 mu­sic by Rodgers’ band Free, his set will con­sist of both ra­dio sta­ples made fa­mous by Bad Com­pany and Free songs. “Free was in­tro­duced to Amer­ica, but by way of one song — ‘All Right Now.’ The mu­sic goes much deeper than that,” said Rodgers, who has re­leased a CD/DVD/triple-LP “Free Spirit: Cel­e­brat­ing the Mu­sic of Free.”

Per­haps one of the most well con­nected peo­ple in rock, a one-off mu­tual-as­sist live col­lab­o­ra­tion in 2004 with the mem­bers of Queen de­vel­oped into four years per­form­ing as “Queen + Paul Rodgers.” Rodgers said he was aware of the risk he was tak­ing singing songs associated with Fred­die Mer­cury, but a med­ley they worked out of “We Will Rock You/We Are the Cham­pi­ons” and “All Right Now” ended up win­ning peo­ple over. He also has good mem­o­ries of singing the 1991 Queen track “The Show Must Go On.” “My take on it was: what­ever you do, whether you’re a truck driver or whether you’re a plumber, or what­ever, the show — your life — must go on.

Gui­tarist Robby Krieger once told Rodgers that after Jim Mor­ri­son died in 1971, the sur­viv­ing mem­bers of The Doors tried un­suc­cess­fully to con­tact Rodgers about be­com­ing their singer. “It stopped me in my tracks. My jaw just dropped. I don’t know what I would’ve done. (At the time) I was hid­ing in the coun­try with Mick Ralphs (lay­ing the ground­work for the band that be­came Bad Com­pany),” he said.

When asked what his se­crets were to keep­ing his voice in shape to hit the high notes in songs like “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad,” Rodgers said it’s a com­bi­na­tion of vo­cal ex­er­cises, gar­gling with salt wa­ter (“Salt wa­ter is where we came from — the ocean,” he said) and lim­it­ing con­cert tours to 20-30 shows each year.

The Bri­tish-born Rodgers, 68, said that he was on the verge of burn­ing him­self out with in­ter­na­tional tour­ing, un­til he met his wife, Cyn­thia, a for­mer Miss Canada whose tal­ents in­clude de­sign­ing the clothes Rodgers wear on stage.


Rock singer Paul Rodgers on stage at the Royal Al­bert Hall in Eng­land dur­ing his “Free Spirit: Cel­e­brat­ing the Mu­sic of Free” Euro­pean tour.

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