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Bad Company Ages Well at the Amphitheatre

Can it really be 15 years since Bad Company came on the scene as a pleasingly straightforward alternative to the distended boogie and progressive rock of the day?

A lot has changed in the meantime, but the newest version of the English band--which headlined the Universal Amphitheatre on Friday--fills pretty much the same function in today’s bloated hard-rock world--only there’s lots more competition now. While such “classics” as “Ready for Love” and “Can’t Get Enough” have aged well (as have guitarist Mick Ralphs and drummer Simon Kirke, the sole holdovers from the original band), the new material is hardly a match for, say, Metallica on the metal side or the Smithereens on the rock ‘n’ roll side. And singer Brian Howe won’t make anyone forget original frontman Paul Rodgers.

Still, Friday’s unadorned and unpretentious presentation deserves credit for its lack of cliche and bombast, if nothing else.

Opening act Vixen, on the other hand, appeared ready and willing to embrace any and every bombastic hard-rock cliche. But these four hair-extension poster girls are not able, and their set was at best a cartoon imitation of bad rock. Can it really be 13 years since the Runaways came on the scene . . . ?

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