By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
The ‘One Hell of a Night’ tour, featuring classic rock legends, Bad Company and Joe Walsh, kicked off the concert season at Darien Lake this past Tuesday. The evening certainly lived up to be “One Hell of a Night,” with Walsh and Bad Company playing a great collection of hits. Although it was unseasonably cold (down to 55 degrees when Bad Company hit the stage at 9:30pm) and the overall ticket sales were low – just hours before show time, the venue was filled with passionate music lovers by the time Walsh played his first note.
The Eagles and ex-James Gang guitarist/vocalist, Joe Walsh, and his 10 band mates – including legendary session guitarist, Waddy Watchel, bass player Larry Young, drummers Joe Vitale and Chad Cromwell, along with two keyboard players and 4 back ground singers, hit the stage at 7:30pm and played an impressive, 75-minute crowd pleasing set.
Walsh, who has been sober for 22 years, still plays up the role as the drunk rockstar. Early into his set, Walsh mumbled, “This is an old James Gang song,” and proceeded with 1970’s vintage track – “ The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” This featured some great twin guitar leads from Walsh and Watchel. Half way through, Walsh switched to a Les Paul, and played some very impressive slide guitar.
It became a bit emotional when Walsh dedicated the Eagles song, “Take It To The Limit,” to his band-mate and Eagles founder, Glenn Frey, who passed away in New York City on Monday, January 18th, 2016. The crowd rose to their feet and sang back every word. The song ended with a band photo of the Eagles, Frey laughing, on the video screen on stage.
“Turn to Stone” from Walsh’s 1972 release, ‘Barnstorm” was next, as a video of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders was mixed in with war footage played in the background.
Walsh then said, “If you’re not familiar with this next song, your parents are. And they like it!” He then proceeded with, “In The City,” which is one of the few Eagles songs in which Walsh sang lead vocals on.
The classic James Gang, “Funk 49,” followed, with Walsh, Watchel and Young conjuring together at center stage for some arena rock jamming. Half way through the song, it turned into a disco party, with the band mock dancing in the front of the stage, with a roadie shooting Joe Walsh t-shirts into the audience.
Then, perhaps the highlight of Walsh’s performance, was his biggest hit, “Life Been Good to me So Far.” This is the perfect Joe Walsh song, and a montage of photos from pictures of Walsh as an infant, to pictures of Walsh with an impressive amount of A-list music stars that he has worked with.
The Eagles top hit, “Life in the Fast Lane,” followed. Then, Walsh was called back for an encore, and returned playing the crowd favorite, “Rocky Mountain Way,” to the delight of his old, and brand new fans. On this evening, Walsh could do no wrong and really impressed with his guitar skills.
Following Walsh can’t be an easy task, but the legendary English hard rock band, Bad Company certainly didn’t disappoint. Although only original members Paul Rogers (vocals) and Simon Kirke (Drums) were in this touring version, (guitarist Mick Ralphs dropped out of this tour due to not feeling well enough to travel) the band still delivered. Replacing Ralphs was ex-Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson, he along with ex-Heart / Bad Company touring guitarist, Howard Leese, did an admirable job splitting up the lead guitar duties.
It was fascinating to see how well the classic Bad Company songs translated in a big arena setting. Rogers vocals are still as strong as ever, and the perfectly placed magical power chords coupled with cool special effects, Bad Company really came off as impressive and certainly not a band on its final lap.
The only spot where the band struggled a bit was on the cover of the Beatles, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” I’m not sure if was Robinson, but someone was certainly off tempo, causing Rogers to rush through the verses.
But other than that, the band was flawless. Highlights included: “Feel Like Makin’ Love” which featured a harmonica solo by Rogers. “Burin’ Sky” had some very cool stage effects with dry ice and fire blazing on the video screens. “Shooting Star” was the band at best.
Bad Company finished their 90 minute set with two encores: “Bad Company” and “Rock Steady.”
Bad Company / Joe Walsh proved to be a great double bill. To be able to see so many young people in the audience enjoying classic rock from the 70’s, certainly put a smile on the faces of those that witness these artists in their prime back 40 years ago. We can’t go back to 1970’s, but the audience for a few hours, certainly got a feel of what it sounded like on the incredible evening of classic hard rock music.
The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Take It to the Limit
Turn to Stone
In the City
Life’s Been Good
Life in the Fast Lane
Rocky Mountain Way
Bad Company setlist
Live for the Music
Gone, Gone, Gone
Feel Like Makin’ Love
Ready for Love
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy
Can’t Get Enough
Special thanks to Ashley Ball for the press credentials to cover this show.