Randy Bachman and Fred Turner still have some gas left in the tank.
The reunited members of Bachman-Turner Overdrive are back on the road as Bachman & Turner, cranking out their hits from the 1970s along with some new songs filled with the same spirit as their old material, even if they don’t leave the same impression.
The duo and their band stopped in their hometown of Winnipeg Saturday night, treating a heavily papered crowd of 5,500 at the MTS Centre to a trip down memory lane on a bill that could have taken place in 1975: Paul Rodgers and Blue Öyster Cult served as the opening acts.
"It’s fabulous to be back in our hometown. I’d like to say happy birthday to Fred’s mom and thank her for letting Fred play in my band way back in the ’70s. And thank you all for a great life and a great ride. The music that has come out of here has been phenomenal. To us, you’re number one," Bachman said as an introduction to the jazzy Looking Out For #1.
Bachman & Turner played all their old hits and deeper album cuts, including Hey You, Not Fragile, Let it Ride, Takin’ Care of Business and even American Woman, the only Guess Who song the group covered during its 80-minute set. During You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, the band invited 14-year-old radio contest winner, Kyle Zacharkiw, on stage to play guitar and the teenager earned some well-earned applause for his work, including tackling the song’s famous solo.
Bachman and Turner are both 67, but on stage their ages didn’t make a difference. Turner, in particular, sounded as great as ever as he barked out old favourites like Let It Roll with his gruff voice adding some extra grit to the rock anthem. He showed off his smoother side during Blue Collar, which included two impressive jazzy Bachman guitar solos.
Bachman naturally dazzled on the guitar all night, whether he was soloing or playing some of the best known riffs in Canadian music. Opening act Rodgers isn’t known for his guitar skills, but for his voice. 92 Citi FM DJ/musicologist Howard Mandshein introduced the co-headliner by calling him "God’s favourite vocalist." There’s no way of knowing whether that’s true, but Rodgers hasn’t seemed to have lost any of his vocal power.
His pipes got a good workout during his 75-minute set as the 61-year-old touched on highlights from his time in Bad Company and Free. He started with Can’t Get Enough of Your Love and pulled out all his signature hits and more obscure material along the way, including Honey Child, Mr. Big and crowd favourite Feel Like Making Love. His set started during the fourth quarter of a close Winnipeg Blue Bombers/Toronto Argonauts game, which had crowds of people surrounding television sets in the concourse and lounge area, cheering and jeering. The conclusion of the song Bad Company coincided with the end of the game just as the clock ticked to zero after third-string quarterback Justin Goltz got sacked, adding some boos to the cheers. (Don’t worry Paul, they weren’t for you).
He wrapped up his set with the sweet ballad Shooting Star, which turned into a giant sing-along, as did Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy. The slow chugger Walk in My Shadows took the energy level down a notch before All Right Now — released in 1970 — got the crowd back into it and gave them one more chance to sing along.
Blue Öyster Cult opened the show with a quick 35-minute set that touched on their best known radio hits — Burnin’ for You, Godzilla and (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (which earned plenty of shouts for more cowbell) — along with a couple of fan favourites, most notably Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll off their 1972 debut. Despite the short set, lead guitarist Buck Dharma still managed to show off his skills by getting two solos in.
And a couple of crappy cell phone photos from the show:
Aircraft Maintenance Engineer on de Havilland Dash-8-100, Airbus A320, and Embraer 190 series aircraft; private pilot; owner of a Quad City Challenger II ultralight airplane; Canadian Aviation Historical Society member; Civil Air Search and Rescue Association pilot