The Stars Align Tour rolled into Tampa, Florida under the light of a full moon. We sent out Florida correspondent Mark Horan to cover the star lit concert. Paul Rodgers headlined this star-studded event promoting his new band Free Spirit. Joining Rodgers on the stage this evening ‘was Rock-N-Roll Hall of Famer Jeff Beck, Hearts Ann Wilson, and the late John Bonham’s sister Deborah Bonham.
The MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater was the perfect open-air venue for this superstar lineup on their last performance of their summer tour. I have followed the careers of these musicians over the past 40 years and regard them the finest at their perspective trades. Beck the guitar innovator, Rodgers the absolute best singer/front man that has ever graced center stage, and Ann Wilson the strongest soprano to ever sing rock-n-roll. I was giddy with excitement in anticipation of this evening when the concert dates were announced six months ago.
The evening kicked off with a short set by Deborah Bonham the sister of deceased Led Zeppelin Drummer John Bonham, and aunt of Jason Bonham. Deborah took the stage and belted out a short set with her signature gritty style blues vocals.
2. Hold On
3. The Old Hyde
4. No Angel
Ann Wilson followed with her band and gave the crowd a preview of her new album “Immortal” covering songs from the recent artists lost before their time, over the past few years. Glenn Frey, Chris Cornell, and Amy Winehouse were represented with songs in her set as well as 2 Who songs that began and ended the set. I have to be honest, the song that got my feet going was Heart’s “Barracuda”. I can’t imagine an Ann Wilson show without it. She proved she still had the intense range to cover the song that brought back memories to when I saw her perform it 40 years ago.
Ann Wilson – Vocals, Daniel Walker - Keyboards, Craig Bartock – Guitar , Denny Fongheiser – Drums , and Andy Stoller – Bass
3. Fool No More
Jeff Beck was next up on the MidFlorida Credit Union Stage as the full moon shone down with a slight breeze. Beck has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a solo artist (2009), and as a member of the 1960’s band the Yardbirds (1992). The Yardbirds had a guitar lineage of Eric Clapton, Beck, and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. They may be the finest modern day blues guitarists still alive.
Beck was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone's list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” I might have him closer to the top of the list. He is by far the most innovative with his style of play in my opinion. Who else messages the whammy bar on a Fender Stratocaster to create sounds never before heard from a guitar? He has won six Grammy Awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and one Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Jeff Beck has released 17 studio albums including “Loud Hailer” released in 2016. He is an amazing talent to witness and a must see for any guitar enthusiast. He never seems to have an off night, even under a full moon.
Jeff Beck – Guitar, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Sting, Herbie Hancock), vocalist Jimmy Hall, bassist Rhonda Smith (Prince, Chaka Khan, Beyoncé, George Clinton) and cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith.
1. Pull It
9. Just for Fun
11. Big Block
Last band performing on this summer night was led by my absolute favorite front man and vocalist, Paul Rodgers from Free, Bad Company, and The Firm. His vocal range and versatility got him the job of lead vocalist replacing the late Freddie Mercury on Queen’s last tour. Rodgers knows how to captive an audience by allowing them to join in on the performance as he did on this night, allowing the fans to sing with him on songs at the end of the show. It was a special night as the band covered the greatest hits from Free to Bad Company. Not a soul left unsatisfied as none their favorite songs were left out.
I can attest Paul Rodgers’ vocals have not wavered in the past 50 years, nor has his energy and stage presence. He is one of the greatest front men to ever lead a rock n roll band and leaving him out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an injustice that needs to be corrected in the near future.
Paul Rogers – vocals, Pete Bullick – guitar, Ian Rowley – bass, Rich Newman – drums, and Gerard Louis “G” – Keyboards.