REVIEW: Paul Rodgers at Portsmouth Guildhall

Paul Rodgers and his band onstage at Portsmouth Guildhall. PICTURE: Paul Windsor
Paul Rodgers and his band onstage at Portsmouth Guildhall. PICTURE: Paul Windsor
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Paul Rodgers is a name that appears at the top of the list when supergroups are looking for a stand-out voice.

After forming Free with Paul Kossov almost 50 years ago, and then Bad Company in 1973, he went on to work with Jimmy Page in his post-Led Zeppelin era as The Firm.

When Queen first felt able to tour after the loss of Freddie Mercury, it was again ‘The Voice’ that they turned to.

Having filled stadia around the world, Rodgers brought his Free Spirit tour to the relatively intimate surroundings of the Guildhall. This was an opportunity to look back at the Free era and one of the highlights came early in the set with a stunning rendition of Be My Friend.

Haunting guitar from the excellent Pete Bullick complemented Rodgers’ stunning vocals and brought the first standing ovation of the night. By the time we’d heard My Brother Jake and Mr Big, the whole audience were on their feet and remained there right through to the two encores which inevitably included All Right Now and Wishing Well.

This was a stunning vocal performance by a relaxed and confident performer who has honed his stagecraft over decades. From the subtle tones to the moments of raucous power, every note was absolutely spine-tingling.

Confidence and presence are one thing but having that voice puts Paul Rodgers in a league of his own.