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Concert Reviews:
The 70s live again with Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- It was one night when those concert calls for "Free Bird" did not go unheeded on Tuesday, July 23, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd own the song, of course -- and the right to extend the iconic rock guitar opus for as long as it feels right. Or at least until the amphitheater's 11 p.m. curfew.

But on a shared bill with Bad Company, "Free Bird" was just part of a veritable classic rock jukebox on Tuesday, with a pair of sturdy sets that showed both veteran acts are still potent concerns as each enters its fifth decade.

Following a charged half-hour from nuevo Southern rockers Black Stone Cherry, Bad Company started its 40th anniversary celebration with a tone-setting "Rock 'n' roll Fantasy," launching an hour-long march through 13 songs drawn from its five 70s albums. The bulk, of course, came form 1974's "Bad Company" debut, with the likes of "Can't Get Enough," "Rock Steady," "Ready For Love," "Movin' On" and the outlaw-themed title track sounding ageless thanks to frontman Paul Rodgers still-intact voice and the guitar tandem of co-founder Mick Ralphs and Howard Leese -- the latter of whom is, ironically, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame via his membership in Heart while Bad Company is still on the sidelines.

The hit parade continued with "Burnin' Sky," "Run With the Pack," "Feel Like Makin' Love" and the singalong "Shooting Star," but Bad Company -- abetted by a few CO2 steam jets and stage fog at appropriate moments -- dug deep as well for album tracks like "Live For the Music" and "Honey Child," all solid enough to leave us hoping that we won't have to wait for the 45th anniversary to see the group again.

The current incarnation of Lynyrd Skynyrd, meanwhile -- with only guitarist Gary Rossington left from the original lineup -- featured four songs from its 1973 debut album, not exactly a 40th anniversary observation since they're all staples of the group's shows but still effective when "Simple Man," "Gimme Three Steps" and "Tuesday's Gone" were grouped together late in the show with "Free Bird," of course, as the encore. The rest of the 13-song set held true to the evening's 70s time capsule, with fleet romps through "Call Me the Breeze," "What's Your Name?" and "You Got That Right" and gritty renditions of "That Smell," "Gimme Back My Bullets" and "Saturday Night Special."

And as the main set closed with "Sweet Home Alabama," Skynyrd showed that one could briefly become part of the old South, even hundreds of miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line.



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