Tues, Aug. 28th 2012: Esquimalt, Victoria, BC. ~ Fri. Sept 7th : Red Robinson Theatre, Coquitlam, BC.
The light faded fast from the sky. It was a little chilly. I sat in a field with my wonderful wife Wendy and about two thousand other wonderful people waiting for Joe Walsh to come on stage. The stage had recently been vacated by Kim Mitchell. He of Patio Lanterns and Lets Go For A Soda fame. That was fun! In the same way that looking at photos taken of yourself when you were fourteen might be! They were a good, tight band. You couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for them though. The selection of teen rebel, love and anxiety songs sounded a little odd coming from a group of men in their fifties. At one point Mitchell jokingly chastised the audience, most of who were sitting on chairs brought from home, he explained that “you’ll never get into to it if you sit there in your chairs with your arms folded!”. True! but, well it was one of his songs “I am the Wild Party” that really said to us now, “well not so much now, but back in the day you should have seen us!”. In fairness lots of the people there had, like an old school reunion where you say “ you haven’t changed a bit ” but you mean “that look stopped working for you in the mid Seventies ~ Move on!”
And now came the main event. Joe Walsh. Not really a“superstar” even though he is one of the Eagles, he’s always been a sort of a anti superstar. The stage was set, two full drum kits, a percussionist and three backing singers added to a rhythm guitarist,the bass player and get this, a keyboard guy playing a full size Hammond organ through a Lesley speaker no less! No digital effects or drum loops here just a rock n roll band. This is live music ~ no downloads. During the week the local radio station had been playing Joe’s latest work as a build up to the concert. One of which, in true Joe Walsh fashion, was about his own struggle with drugs and alcohol. He gave up his best friend vodka 18 years ago and looks trim and in good shape. Walsh’s music is, and has always been about how he sees the world and himself fitting into it with a sense of humour. Everybody’s so different ~ I haven’t changed.
From the opening chords the night changed. No one was noticing the chill any more! No one was stting in their seats any more. Joe Walsh takes what he does very seriously, no going through the motions here, his delivery is nothing short of greatness. Every fiber of his body is focused upon the delivery of his music and the resulting passion and joy is plain to see everywhere. What adds to this is that while he takes his work serious he doesn’t take himself too much that way. “Nice town” says Joe “I spent a great week here one night in the eighties.” He plays a series of guitars provided to him by his guitar tech and plays within the band and not in front of them. This is a great band. Think of any Joe Walsh song on an album you have, now go and listen to it, that’s the sound of recorded music, but there is so much more live!
When you hear parts of Voodoo Child, Cast Your Fate To the Wind and Bolero weaving through his guitar work you are reminded of the late great Jimi Hendrix. This is a master class in guitar playing. When you look on in astonishment at the man who’s sounds have no right to be on this worldly planet swirling around and over you, making the hair on the back of your neck stand up on end and your heart skip a beat, and suddenly, just for a moment the world is full of magic and wonders and you are, not looking at the fourteen year old in the photo anymore you feel like that fourteen year old again. Joe played his James Gang stuff and his new work off Analog Man before he played I Shall Be Released which morphed into the best, a game changing version of his classic Turn to Stone. Both dedicated to his late friend Levon Helm.
So was Rocky Mountain Way good? Did Life In The Fast Lane live up to expectations? Was Funk#49 still happening now? And maybe, just maybe there was a sharper edge to “Life’s Been Good To Me ”? It was all good for me. Everybody sing ~ He’s Cool!
Sorry kids “if your mom and dad have played it to death in the past” but Joe Walsh is the great player you get! Make no mistake about what he brings to each and every song it is himself. He is a premier guitarist, songwriter, singer and performer of epic proportions.
If you can then see Joe Walsh and his band on the Analog Man tour before it’s gone. It is good to know that giants still walk among us. I am already using this experience as proof that being “authentic” is the difference between being there and just being.
From a field, behind the Rec’ Center, Esquimalt.