When you had your first hit single over 45 years ago, you helped make the EAGLES the biggest selling American band and your brother-in-law is RINGO STARR, you’ve got a damn good pedigree. That’s why I was right in the middle of thousands of fans at the Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas to hear and see JOE WALSH in concert.
It was a gorgeous Spring evening, the temperature was perfect for an outdoor concert and it was the opening night of the One Hell Of A Night Tour with BAD COMPANY. Notorious late-arriving Dallas-ites actually fought the traffic and arrived in time to see MAKANA perform an acoustic set to warm up the crowd.
The early attendees came to see JOE WALSH, though, and were glad they did. Joe always puts on an excellent show as he is a natural entertainer in addition to being a consummate musician.
The singer walked onstage to no introduction and received a standing ovation as he made his way out. He talked to the audience and told a couple of jokes before launching into “Play That Rock and Roll.” Guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who plays with the still beautiful STEVIE NICKS (who was a former love interest to Joe), showed his chops as he and Mr. Walsh battled back and forth on solos.
“Walk Away” put the fans into a frenzy as the band played it with a slightly harder beat. The young girls andolder women were dancing and swooning and the guys were wishing they were rock stars. In his unmistakable voice, Joe announced, “Here is one we affectionately like to call, ‘Song #3.'” They played “Analog Man” with extreme precision and sounded great, especially considering this was opening night.
Shifting gears, they played “Rosewood Bitters,” a ballad that showed their true musical abilities. All the members of the band were in sync for the complicated “The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” A long solo and smoke being pumped out from under the stage added to the haunting melody and perfectly fit the setting sun and the coolness of the evening.
The mood then turned emotional as Joe stated, “My brother passed away. I thought we would grow old together. This is for Glenn.” referring to Glenn Frey, his EAGLES bandmate, who tragically died in January. He sang “Take It To The Limit” with a heartbreak tone in his voice joined by backup singer Ricky Washington. A breathtaking video of a man soaring majestically over the countryside gave the song even more meaning. Fans holding up lighters and giving the peace sign accompanied this beautiful, bittersweet, moment.
Joe then laid down a wicked voodoo beat on guitar while long-time collaborator Joe Vitale matched him on the keyboard on “Turn to Stone.” Larry Young on bass kept up with them all the way and a lighted disco ball overhead and a light show on the screen in the background turned the deep cut into a fan favorite.
Again, only Joe can deliver the line, “Here’s a song I wrote once,” and capture the crowd. That song was “In The City” that was released solo and with the EAGLES and became the latest fan favorite of the night. The crowd then went wild for the first few notes of “Funk #49” with its funky beat and backup singers dancing away to everyone’s enjoyment.
Waddy and Joe had a tremendous guitar duel as the background video showed three little pigs shaking their butts to the music. Next came the video for “Life’s Been Good” as the band played the song with its requisite extended jam. It turned into a sing-along as every concert of his turns into a party at the end of the show.
The audience naturally demanded an encore and the band came back out with Joe remarking, “This song started out as a beautiful love song. I don’t know what happened.” Everyone was glad something happened as they shook their moneymakers for “Life In the Fast Lane.” The musicians jammed like big damn dogs which kept the frenzy alive. “Luckily, we know one more,” Joe said as the crowd went apeshit for “Rocky Mountain Way.” All the band members got to play a solo before it turned into a prolonged jam session. Joe and his bandmates made their way off the stage to a gigantic standing ovation.
JOE WALSH always leaves the crowd entertained. Whether as a solo artist or as a member of the JAMES GANG and the EAGLES, he gives his all and has fun doing it. He tells great stories, jokes with the audience and is himself every moment. He is a rock star, but a very unassuming one. He tours frequently and has learned to put together a show that flows wonderfully. He’s been around the block more than a few times and still enjoys playing rock and roll.
Joe opened the very first concert I ever attended, followed by WET WILLIE and headlined by BLACK OAK ARKANSAS. I’ve caught many of his shows over the years since and always come away knowing I’ve been part of something special. Go see him on tour if you can. Go to a show at the Gexa Energy Pavilion where Holly, John and Fred will take care of you.
(Stay tuned for Part II of the One Hell Of A Night Tour with BAD COMPANY)
LIVE IMAGES: GUZPIX
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS