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Lynyrd Skynyrd opened up a dual headline gig in Auburn Thursday with a bang, playing hard and fast renditions of its Southern flavored hits. The band’s three-guitar onslaught, led by irascible leader and sole original member Gary Rossington, was as powerful as ever.

Along with fellow ’70s rock music stalwarts Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd is on the road jointly celebrating 40 years in the recording industry. The thousands in attendance at the White River Amphitheatre were invited to join in on the festivities and were treated to a hits-heavy sets from both groups.

With the volume cranked to 11 the band ran through its back catalog with an efficiency that was as impressive as it was enjoyable. It was an interesting choice to forego performing hardly any songs from recent releases, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind as the band jammed out to earsplitting renditions of classics like “That Smell,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Simple Man.”

Ultimately, what has defined Lynyrd Skynyrd is volcanic guitar playing, and in that regard the band didn’t disappoint. The trio of Rickey Medlocke, Mark Matejka and Rossington played its collection of classic riffs, licks and solos with a fire that belied their years.

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The decision to close out the set with an encore rendition of the FM radio mainstay “Freebird” was of course predictable, but that didn’t detract from the energy the band put into the number — or the delight the audience took in hearing it.

Nearly half an hour after the Southern rockers had left the stage, it was their British counterparts Bad Company’s turn up at the plate, and they simply brought it. Leading off with “Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy,” the band, led by iconic frontman Paul Rodgers, was quick to grab the crowd’s attention and just as reluctant to let it go.

Without the benefit of any new material, Bad Company also leaned heavily on its early ’70s output, but again, no one seemed to mind. Rodgers, ever the showman, enticed the crowd into singing along with versions of “Feel Like Making Love” and “Shooting Star,” which added a lighthearted element to a show that might have taken itself too seriously.

All in all it was an evening crammed with nostalgia, a celebration of a bygone era of bombastic, in-your-face rock ’n’ roll, with all the excess you could want and imagine.

Corbin Reiff:

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