By: Derek Jung
In the world of nostalgia acts, the talent comes in a wide range of varieties. There are acts that were fantastic in their heyday and have aged like a fine wine. Bands in this category have continued to tighten their performances with experience and their hits feel as fresh as they did twenty or thirty years ago. There are also acts that should have hung it up years ago, spoiled by age, familiarity, or new band members that can't quite capture the magic of the original lineup. Going into the show, I was on the fence as to which side Joe Walsh would fall. Walsh has been in a few of the most iconic rock bands in the 70s, The Eagles and James Gang, not to mention a successful solo career of his own, but that peaked decades ago. I was curious to see and experience what he had to offer.
Opening the night was JD and the Straight Shots, an americana band fronted by billionaire James Dolan, the media and telecom giant. Dolan was joined by a who's who of studio and touring musicians, including musicians who have played with B.B. King, Robert Plant, Adele, and more. While his backing band was not lacking in talent, Dolan unfortunately left much to be desired. His vocals were rough and hollow, and his guitar playing was amateur. I couldn't help but think this was merely a mid-life crisis band for a lifetime businessman who just happened to have the money to scrape together a group of talented musicians and buy himself onto a tour. He's certainly not above plugging his own band in a tv show from a channel that he owns. Their song "Can't Make Tears" is the theme to AMC's Hell On Wheels. I was not impressed.
Joe Walsh took the stage to rousing applause and immediately dove into the James Gang favorite "Walk Away". While he wasn't overly energetic on stage, understandable at nearly 69 years of age, his vocals were surprisingly sharp and his playing was still top notch. Backed by two drummers (Joe Vitale and Chad Cronwell), Waddy Wachtel on guitar, Larry Young on bass, keyboardist Jimmy Wallace, four backup vocalists and, in what has to be the most interesting band member of the night, DJ Clayton Janes. Yes, a DJ. Thankfully, his presence was all but unnoticeable for the majority of the night, except for the bridge on "Funk #49" where they broke out into a giant dance party. His backup vocalist danced to the front of the stage, DJ Clayton Janes donned light up sunglasses, and Walsh brought a stuffed alligator toy to wave at the crowd. I'm still trying to figure that one out. As far as crazy happenings for Joe Walsh, that might be a little subdued compared to his partying days, but it felt more than a little out of place for such a music-focused show. Breaks from the music were few and far between. Walsh stopped only a few times to yell "HOW YOU DOIN?", which the crowd ate up, but everything else was nearly too slurred to understand. Although he's been sober since the early nineties, the effects linger on.
Even though I'm not a big Eagles fan, although the two he played were my favorites, the rest of his catalog is definitely worth seeing if you haven't. "Funk #49" becomes more and more iconic as the years pass, and there's no denying his solo material has had similar longevity. Life's certainly been good to him so far.
Watch a video recap of the show from Walsh below.
Walk Away (James Gang)
Everyday People (Sly & The Family Stone cover)
The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind (James Gang)
Take It to the Limit (Eagles)
Turn to Stone
In the City
Funk #49 (James Gang)
Life's Been Good
Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles)
Rocky Mountain Way
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: