Rock legend to play The Center

Rock legend to play The Center
Rock legend Simon Kirke will take the stage at The Center of Anna Maria Island June 11 as a part of the Bradenton Gulf Islands Concert Series. - Submitted

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The Center of Anna Maria Island is going to rock this Friday night as legendary musician Simon Kirke takes the stage with Chicago-based band The Empty Pockets.

Kirke, one of the founding members of rock bands Bad Company and Free, will headline the show June 11 as a part of the Bradenton Gulf Islands Concert Series presented by the Bradenton Area Convention Center and Visitors Bureau along with The Sandbar Restaurant.

The show will be the first one Kirke’s played since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down entertainment venues and concert tours in early 2020. And after nearly 15 months without a live show, the rock icon said he’s looking forward to getting back on the stage and playing some of his best-known hits from his solo career, Bad Company and Free. Some of those hits include “Alright Now” from Free, “Bad Company,” “Ready for Love,” “Shooting Star” and “Feel Like Making Love” from Bad Company. And with the crowd singing along to his songs, Kirke said hearing and playing the hits still gives him a thrill, inspiring him to keep performing for audiences.

During the show, Kirke won’t just be rocking the stage from his drum kit, the multi-talented musician said he’ll also be singing during the set, which he said brings back memories of his years performing with Ringo Starr & His All-Star Band. In addition to the drums, Kirke also plays guitar and keyboard.

The show at The Center will be Kirke’s first trip to Anna Maria Island, something he says he’s excited about.

“I’m very much looking forward to coming down there,” he said in a June 4 talk with The Sun.

Kirke’s been in the music industry for about 50 years. After making a deal with his parents to either find a gig as a drummer with a band or go to college, Kirke said the decision nearly came down to his two-year deadline before he found a place playing with the Black Cat Bones. And it’s all been uphill from there, though if he had lost the wager with his parents and gone to university, Kirke said he thinks he would have pursued photojournalism.

“I’ve had a lot of good breaks in my life,” he said, “but I’m of the opinion that somewhere along the way you make your own luck and I think that’s what happened to me. I’ve been very lucky to go from Free in 1973 to go to Bad Company.”

Kirke has been a member of Bad Company since its formation in 1974.

Of the upcoming show at The Center, Kirke said he’s very much anticipating the June 11 concert and getting back in the groove of performing live.

“I’m really looking forward to reuniting with The Empty Pockets,” he said. “They’re so diverse. They have an amazing songbook. They’re all wonderful instrumentalists.”

“Also performing. I love performing,” Kirke added.

Doors open at 6 p.m. with the music beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $60-75 each online. The concert will take place on the field at The Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, rain or shine. Make sure to bring your own lawn chair and a face mask to use when not able to social distance. No outside drinks will be permitted though The Sandbar will have a cash bar onsite. Street parking and complimentary valet parking are available.