Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, and Ann Wilson joined together for the “Stars Align Tour” and we caught the action at Irvine, CA’s FivePoint Amphitheatre on July 20, 2018!
Esteemed rock vocalist Ann Wilson and her band performed a rousing set on July 20, 2018. Wilson has long been recognized as the voice of Heart, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. On Heart hiatus, Wilson is currently promoting her forthcoming solo album Immortal, a collection of songs from deceased artists that have inspired her.
Wilson and her troupe played moving renditions of songs for the crowd, such as Chris Cornell’s “I Am the Highway” (recorded by the Cornell-fronted band Audioslave), the Eagles’ “Life in The Fast Lane”, dedicated to Glenn Frey, and covers from bands whose members are still alive. Disappointingly, “Barracuda” was the only Heart song played, but Wilson’s remarkable voice and stage presence, along with the great musicians backing her, set the mood right for the next act, Paul Rodgers.
Ann Wilson of Heart playing live in 2017 at the House of Blues.
Paul Rodgers started his set at twilight and got the Southern California crowd up and out of their seats, as he culled blues-based rock classics from his Free and Bad Company catalog. Notwithstanding that he turns 70 next year, Rodgers, fit and energetic, sang his ass off as he worked the stage, kicking out the songs he is famous for. Joined by Pete Bullick (guitar), Ian Rowley (bass), Gerard “G” Lewis (keyboards), and Rich Newman (drums), Rodgers had a band that enabled him to soar.
“Can’t Get Enough,” “Shooting Star,” and “Rock n’ Roll Fantasy” were but a few Bad Company radio hits that had the audience singing while the smiling front man egged them on. The band encored with Free’s “All Right Now,” and was met with massive applause. It was evident that many were overcome with nostalgia, particularly those who sang along word for word, glancing at the person next to them, thinking, “Are you feeling it, too?” Rodgers performance was going to be a tough act for Jeff Beck to follow.
The full Paul Rodgers show from San Diego on July 22, 2018.
Aside from a few songs that featured singer Jimmy Hall, headliner Jeff Beck wowed the audience with instrumental guitar majesty as expected. Backed by a killer rhythm section made up of bassist Rhonda Smith and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, Beck’s lush soundscape was complemented even more by cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith. The decibels were noticeably higher than where Paul Rodgers’ and Ann Wilson’s levels had been set. Known as one of the most skilled practitioners of the electric guitar, Beck pulled out all the stops as he dove into jazz, classical, blues, World, and rock.
His exemplary performance was testament that he has traveled a long road since his days with The Yardbirds. But even back then, more than 50 years ago, Beck, along with contemporaries Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, was blowing minds with his guitar. An otherworldly segment of the show was when Beck played the melancholic instrumental “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” from the 1975 Blow by Blow album. If Wilson and Rodgers would have joined Beck for the closer, “Going Down,” it would have made for a better ending to an already memorable show.
If you’ve never witnessed Jeff Beck live, here’s a full live concert from 2017.