Paul Rodgers with special guest Deborah Bonham performing his Free Spirit Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Saturday 20th May 2017.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The man with nearly fifty years experience in the music business with bands such as Free, Bad Company, The Firm and later with Queen gave a vibrant performance last night at the Royal Concert Hall when he delivered a set full of hits from his short lived band, Free.

Supported by the rock and roll genetically connected Deborah Bonham, the evening started well as she entertained with a set list that was far too short which included new songs Painbird and Spirit In Me. Receiving a great reaction as the audience instantly warmed to her, she finished with the gorgeous I Need Love.

Coming on stage, Rodgers immediately impacted with a Little Bit Of Love and Ride On A Pony. Looking and sounding good, he spun his microphone stand in the way that all fans remember as he strutted the stage in his familiar way.

He was backed last night by Bonham’s band which included husband Pete Bullick who did a magnificent job with the guitar solos of the late great Paul Kossoff, adding both emotion and feeling to the very core of the songs. With a set list drawn fairly evenly from Free’s six studio albums, there was The Stealer, a brilliant Mr Big, a spell binding rendition of Fire And Water, as well as the rarely included Love You So from their 1970 album Highway.

There were two encores, the first culminating in the song written when he was just 18; the anthemic All Right Now during which images and footage of Free were projected onto a back drop on the screen as Bullick and bassist Rowley really showcased their talents.

Rodgers, not known for his between song banter, was so relaxed on stage and actually looked as though he was enjoying it as much as the crowd were. Bringing the evening to a close with Walk In My Shadow, a song from Free’s debut album Ton Of Sobs, the diehard fans in the audience were transported back to the 1970’s Isle of Wight Festival where the very young Free made their mark.