Last night, Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Famer Joe Walsh performed at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside for a great show, at what is quickly becoming an inland concert jewel.
I’ve seen Joe Walsh live 3 times, over as many decades. Yeah, Joe Walsh has been around awhile – I guess that means I have too. The first time was in the 70′s, and the best I can remember he opened for Elton John and The Beach Boys (fuzzy times those 70′s). The second time was my introduction to The Fender Center in Corona during a fundraiser there, a show that changed a lot in my life. The third was last night.
Joe Walsh is a perfect fit for this type of venue. There is something real about him, something the audience can relate to. In a larger hall than this, that might get lost. Last night they were filming the show for joewalsh.com, and I think they may have some great footage.
The set included classics from throughout his career: James Gang, The Eagles, and hits from his solo efforts. ‘Life of Illusion’, ‘Walk Away’, ‘Rocky Mountain Way’, ‘Turn to Stone’, ‘In The City’, ‘Fast Lane’… they were all in there. He did apologize to those that grew up having to hear their parents play ‘Life’s Been Good’ constantly, saying if he had known he would have written something else.
The forthcoming CD ‘Analog Man’, I think the tentative release is February 2012, was represented with the title track and ‘Wrecking Ball’. If those are any indication, this will be a great CD. I always wonder when new material is played at a show if the audience will be willing to learn new stuff, when they really want the classics. These 2 tracks went over great.
The band consisted of a guitarist, a keyboard player, a bass player, two (yep – 2) drummers, and the three backing vocalists. The vocalists were shockingly good. After introducing them, the band went into ‘I Shall Be Released’, with Walsh handling guitar and backing vocals, while those three singers delivered one of the most amazing vocal performances you could ever hear. I want to see those three again. It was during that song that I realized something was different from other shows I have seen here. The size of the band, and variety of the instrument and vocal performances, was being mixed incredibly well. The intricacy of that mix reminded me of a Dire Straits show I saw years ago at the old Pacific Amphitheater. The sound crew last night really deserves credit, and I wish I had taken a moment to say something to them.
The one crazy moment was when he opened the Encore with ‘I.L.B.Tz’ (I Like Big T*ts). He introduced it saying it had started as a love song, but he wasn’t sure what happened.
One thing that was obvious throughout the show was that Joe Walsh is a guitar god. Changing guitars almost every song, and at times mid-song, he played every one of them to the point where I think the guitars may have been asking for a rest. And watching Walsh play slide is pure entertainment.
As we were leaving, my wife and I talked about having The Fox Performing Arts Center in the Inland Empire. Given the chance to see a show at multiple venues we would both choose this one. Every show we have seen there has sounded amazing, and Joe Walsh seemed above the norm.