Gexa Energy Pavilion
May 12, 2016
By Jeb Wright
I Can Play That Rock And Roll | Walk Away | Analog Man | Rosewood Bitters |The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind | Take It To The Limit | Turn To Stone |In The City |Funk #49 |Life’s Been Good
Life In The Fast Lane | Rocky Mountain Way
Man Needs Woman | Live for the Music | Feel like Makin’ Love | Gone, Gone, and Gone | Burnin’ Sky | Electricland |Ready for Love |Crazy Circles | Seagull |Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy | Shooting Star | Movin’ on
Bad Company |Rock Steady
All week long the weather called for rain, but thankfully the rock gods intervened and the sun came out. The Gexa Energy Pavilion proved to be the perfect venue for rock icons Joe Walsh and Paul Rodgers to kick-off their One Hell of a Night tour.
Before the big boys hit the stage, however, a young man from Hawaii named Makana opened the show. He performed several songs, some originals and some covers by Led Zeppelin and Sting in the style of slack key guitar. He had an infectious energy, raw talent and a passion for the music he was performing.
As good as he was, however, Joe Walsh and Bad Company were the 2 bands the crowd was there to see. The energy grew as everyone wondered who would take the stage first. It turned out to be The Blond Bomber, the Master of the Stratocaster and that dude who played with the Eagles, Joe Walsh. Before Joe uttered a word or played a note he received a standing ovation. It was well deserved, as the beloved musician is a true one-of-a-kind talent and personality.
Joe opened the show with “I Can Play That Rock and Roll” from the album You Bought It You Name It and then went back in time and played the James Gang classic “Walk Away.” Next was the self-titled tune from his long-awaited solo album Analog Man. “Rosewood Bitters,” written by his good friend Michael Stanley, is always an emotional moment, and on this night the crowd appreciated the heartfelt tune.
Joe addressed the crowd before going into “The Bomber” saying, “All you young people out there, you’re parents love this song.” Joe kept humor in his act the entire night. (“You all should remember this song… I just hope I do…”) When band intros came up he introduced a member of the band as tech for the Eagles. He said, “I asked him to join the band and he told me he wasn’t a musician. He just makes noises. I told him that’s okay.”
The laughter did subside momentarily when Joe introduced two families in attendance that lost loved ones in the war. The crowd gave them a standing ovation and Joe said, “I am not doing so well. Glenn is gone. I thought my brother and I would grow old together.” With that, the band went into a very emotional version of the Eagles classic “Take It to the Limit.” The video screen showed images of the musicians throughout the song. The band had four background singers who were terrific, and the only male singer took lead vocals on this tune with incredible soaring accent vocals from one of the gals. Afterward, Walsh composed himself and then performed some of the most loved rock and roll songs of all time in “In the City,” “Turn to Stone,” “Funk #49” and “Life’s Been Good.”
It was great to see drummer Joe Vitale in the band once again. He had a huge grin the entire night and he gave it his all. During the band introductions, Walsh mentioned his friendship and made a comment about pasta. Also in Joe’s band is guitarist extraordinaire Waddy Wachtel, who Joe forgot to introduce at all. When he realized a song later what he had done he said, “This is a guy who was once a very close friend of mine… that is, until I forgot to introduce him a little while ago.”
The encore started with Walsh telling the crowd they would just stand there and play a song so that everyone didn’t need to go through the motions that usually happen at a concert. The band kicked into “Life in the Fastlane.” At the end of the classic song the band left the stage and the crowd brought them back for a real encore. Joe smiled and said, “Luckily, we know one more song.” You knew it was coming, if you were checking the mic stand for the ‘Talk-Box’ tube. Joe strapped on a PRS Mira, grabbed a slide and tore into “Rocky Mountain Way.” When the set came to an end, there were people there feeling sorry for the band that had to follow this amazing Joe show.
The band that came on next, however, was no run of the mill rock act. This was Bad Company, featuring multi-instrumental singer, songwriter and amazing vocalist Paul Rodgers. Joining Paul was Bad Co founding member and drummer Simon Kirke, Hall of Fame guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Todd Ronning. There was one more guitar player on stage making his debut with Bad Co. Rich Robinson… yes, the guitar player from the Black Crowes is touring with Bad Co. How damn cool is that?
They opened with the deep album cut “Man Needs Woman” from 1977’s Burnin’ Sky. This is a song that should have been a huge hit and features those damn sexy Paul Rodgers vocals and that unique Bad Co groove. Next up came “I Live for the Music.” Damn, this sucker rocked. This is song just has that Bad Co feel that melts all your worries away.
Next, the band played one of their biggest hits unusually early in the set. “Feel like Makin’ Love” had the crowd on their feet singing along with every word. “Gone, Gone, Gone” from Desolation Angels was next. This is a song that the Bad Co faithful have always loved as it encapsulates that bass and guitar sound that makes them so unique. Another deep album cut, “Electricland” from the album Rough Diamonds proved to be one of the most musical events of the evening. Again, this song should have been a huge hit but, somehow, was not. Rodgers immersed himself into the performance of this song, so much so that at the end of the tune he said, “Wow, I really went there for a moment.”
“Ready for Love” is another classic, and it was definitely a crowd favorite. “Crazy Circles,” from Desolation Angels, ended up being one of the coolest songs performed. While strapping on an acoustic guitar, Rodgers admitted that Bad Company had never played the song live before. It went over like gangbusters.
Drummer Simon Kirke came down to the front of the stage before the next song. Both he and Rodgers were now brandishing acoustic guitars. They went into the emotional song “Seagull” from the band’s debut self-titled album. Soon there were four acoustics being played on stage and Simon took a solo… it was not the first time I’d seen a drummer take a solo, but it was the first time I’d seen a drummer take a guitar solo!
The main set ended with the trifecta of Bad Co tunes “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy,” “Shooting Star,” complete with a sing-a-long, and “Movin’ On.” For the encore the band played “Bad Company” and “Rock Steady.”
Walsh made us laugh throughout the opening set, but he was not the only comedian on this night. At one point Rodgers was talking about finalizing the tour details. He had told Joe to call him on Tuesday to get everything in order. A few days later the phone rang and it was Joe. He said, “Paul, it’s Joe. You said to call you on Tuesday. Is it Tuesday yet?” Everyone, including the band cracked up.
At the end of the day, this proved to be a dream concert lineup. Walsh is a true living and breathing combination of rock star, musician and ordinary average guy. Bad Company blasted it out- running on all cylinders- leaving everyone satisfied.
Paul Rodgers is an amazing man. His vocals are so melodic and strong they defy words. Paul changes the rhythm and cadence of the lyrics, inspiring interpretations from the soul, giving the fan a fresh listen to the classic tunes. Not only can he sing, play guitar, piano, and harmonica but he is the true Bad Co leader of the pack.
Guest guitarist Robinson was slinging some classic Gibson axes, but looked a bit apprehensive during the evening, especially during the dual solo on “Can’t Get Enough”, but it all went smoothly and he held his own during this night. Once he relaxes a bit, this writer predicts he will have the time of his life on stage this summer. The rest of the band was also having a blast and the crowd was eating out the palm of their hand with every song.
The question that begs to be asked is, “Who won this battle of the bands?” Truth be told, this is a very easy call. It is not even close. The winner on this evening was the fans in attendance. This was a celebration of music and life that brings out the best that rock ‘n’ roll has to offer. It wasn’t a battle at all, it was a brotherhood.
Was this, as it was billed, one hell of a night? You bet it was! In fact, I can’t wait to see this one again when the tour machine rolls into Kansas City in June.
If Joe Walsh and Bad Company come to a venue near you, trust me… stop everything you’re doing and go see this show. It’s a PG experience (Pretty Great) and fun for the whole family! It just simply doesn’t get any better than this!