Review: Paul Rodgers, Free Spirit tour, Ipswich Regent

Paul Rodgers wowed the Ipswich Regent. Photo: Thilo Rahn

Paul Rodgers wowed the Ipswich Regent. Photo: Thilo Rahn - Credit: Archant

It was well worth the 45-year wait. At last, I have heard my favourite rock song of all time performed - brilliantly - by Paul Rodgers.

The song in question is Wishing Well and while it might not be especially well known, I have absolutely loved it since it was released by Free in 1972. I’ve seen Rodgers, Free’s vocalist, three times in concert over the years, but he has never performed THE song.

At the Ipswich Regent on Tuesday night, that was put right. Wishing Well, along with Free’s best-known anthem All Right Now, formed part of the encore. Rock heaven for me. Thank you.

Rodgers, undoubtedly one of rock music’s greatest vocalists, is coming to the end of his Free Spirit tour.

It is his homage to the band’s music and, in particular, a tribute to the troubled and ultimately tragic guitarist Paul Kossoff. Brilliantly talented, he joined Rodgers to create Free’s blues/rock sound during the band’s short-lived, rollercoaster life span in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Kossoff died in his 20s after years of troubles with drug addiction and his father, David, devoted the rest of his life to educating young people about the dangers of illegal drugs.

Since Free split in 1972, Rodgers has fronted Bad Company - another favourite of mine - and, more recently, has performed with the surviving members of Queen.

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But this tour, as its name would suggest, is pure Free. The gig began with one the band’s hit singles, Little Bit of Love; and the next 90 minutes or so featured pretty much flawless renditions of the best known songs in their back catalogue.

At the age of 67, Rodgers looks very youthful and his extraordinary voice retains its immense power. In fact, looking back at old videos of Free, I would say he’s singing better than ever.

In a discussion about rock music legends, he probably wouldn’t be the first name to be mentioned. But he really does deserve to be regarded as a true great. It’s brilliant for people like me – and the rest of the Regent audience, all of a certain age - that he is still performing at the peak of his powers.

If you want to watch a legend in action, he’s playing at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday evening. Read entertainment writer Wayne Savage’s chat with Rodgers here.

Terry Hunt

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