Live Review: Joe Walsh & Bad Company

Joe WalshLast night brought together native son Joe Walsh and 70s supergroup Bad Company for what was supposed to be a two-for-one show, but really was Bad Company opening for Walsh, or if you aren’t a fan of Joe Walsh, then nobody opened.  After seeing this show live, I’d have to say they both sounded like opening acts in a way.

I always say, “I love opening bands, they open your ears”.  I also say, “If I can’t say something positive, I won’t write, there’s too much of that on the net,” but I’m breaking my own rules.  I’m doing so because I paid for the gig, I went as a civilian (he said tongue-in-cheek).  I paid a fair chunk for 10th row, dead center, so I’m gonna call it how anyone who paid that much for a pair of seats would.

First off was Bad Company.  They lived up to their name tonight, they were just bad.  Yes, it’s great that they are touring, everyone is dying and the pickings are slim.  I saw Bad Co. back in the late 90s at The Greek and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot.  Tonight however, something was missing.  Paul Rodgers’ voice still sounds awesome.  He had Simon Kirke with him on drums, a winning combination.  Or it should have been.  The band sounded flat and they did it by the numbers.  The audience seemed equally lifeless to me.  Sure, they stood for the crowd favorites, they sung along, Rodgers praised the sing-along.  I don’t know about you, but I do not feel any sense of brotherhood when I hear ten thousand fellow concertgoers singing in unison.  I came to hear the artist, not the guy beside me.  There were smoke effects, light effects, and a huge disco ball.  A disco ball?  Really?  At a rock show?  I guess the dichotomy is that we still want to relive the 1970s by going to see these acts, but then when they recreate the era, it comes off as cheesy. Should I give Bad Company a pass because they’re still out there performing the hits of the 70s?  I give everyone else a pass, so why not them?  It looked and sounded like it belonged in Las Vegas.

With that disappointment over, we waited for Joe Walsh to take the stage.  Joe’s going to liven things up, right?  I’ve been a huge fan of Joe’s forever.  Joe Walsh is the clown prince of rock.  Back in 2000, he performed at a rally for Al Gore wearing a Giraffe head for the entirety of the show.  Joe seemed engaging, speaking with the audience, joking, having fun, but he seemed almost laconic, or perhaps drunk?  Don’t get me wrong, Joe Walsh did his best when he was wasted on whichever substance he was wasted on, most musicians did.  But last night, everything seemed slowed down, including the audience.  Joe was great as far as virtuosity goes, he did all the usual tricks.  Voice-box, slide, wha, incredible bends.

When he did “In The City” the screen behind him was showing clips from “The Warriors,” and it felt like I was watching a video on VH1’s 70s rewind.  There was one very poignant moment when Joe dedicated “Take It To The Limit” to “my brother and bandmate Glen Frey,” but did we really need the video of the guy in the flying squirrel suit?  And shouldn’t Joe have picked a Glen Frey song and not a Randy Meisner one?  Or was that fact lost on the audience?  Near the end of the show, Ringo Starr came out and sat behind the second drum kit, and the audience….the audience should have gone stark(ey) raving mad.  It’s Beatle Ringo for god’s sake.  Half the section remained seated.  Should I even bother going to The Bowl later this summer for Ringo’s All Star Band?

Is it just that this is what the average concert audience has become here in Los Angeles? People sitting there tweeting out pictures of themselves with the stage in the shot?  Maybe the past year has spoiled me, shooting from the pit?  No, that can’t be it, I can’t be this wrong can I?  I was at The Fonda a few months ago for the Ray Manzarek tribute, and the place was jumping.  Shouldn’t the audience at a Joe Walsh show be at least semi-intoxicated in honor of Joe’s past bouts of inebriation? I sure think so.  I have to be honest, I just hate having to write a bad review of anything, but I just felt there was something missing from this show, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.  It certainly wasn’t the venue.  If you haven’t been back to the Fabulous Forum since the renovation, you’re missing out.  They’ve turned the place into one of the most intimate indoor venues in our city.  Not every single show can be the best show you’ve ever seen.  Sorry, folks, but I have to call them as I see them.

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Ivor Levene

About Ivor Levene

Ivor Levene likes to interview musicians, write about music and musicians, play music, listen to music, read about music, photograph musicians, and anything else you can think of with music. He has been involved with the music scene for over thirty years and his posts have appeared all over the place! Ivor says "I'm going to write about music as long as I have something to say".
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6 Responses to Live Review: Joe Walsh & Bad Company

  1. Larry Gamm says:

    Ivor,
    While many great artists of yore can still bring us back to those times when Music made the era, that era is gone, and it becomes increasingly difficult for many of these talented musicians to still capture that magic. You don’t lose the talent, the talent remains, but for many it seems the emotion and meaning for both the Fans and the musicians no longer exists at the level we all once experienced. Not everyone can do what the Stones do which is still woo the crowd of eternity, no matter what year it is.

  2. Thomas Lind says:

    Ivor,
    I sat in the top of the Forum. I brought my 12 and 16 year old sons who, thanks to me, knew some of the music they were seeing. My 12 year old loved the performance, and he put me through resistance hell before we left the house. While he doesn’t have the critical eye lifelong concertgoers like you and I do, he responded with his gut, and his gut said YES!. I noticed the crowd on the floor sitting, and the crowd up by us sitting, but its the music and the age of the audience. Bad Company is a rock band, but their hits are plodding, crafted pop/rock songs that still sound nice, but back in the day they KICKED ASS. Years of faster and more inventive rock hooks have laid bare the simplicity and casual nature of many 70s artists. Bad Company was built to make hits, and they did. Joe, on the other hand, is an artist who just makes his own art, and I could feel that difference in the songs. Every video was a thematic representation of the song, and Joe always wrote songs about something (Note: the words “star” “rock” and “love” appear in the titles of a lot of Bad Co songs). You did not like the squirrel suit guy? Perhaps it was representative of ‘taking things to the limit’, and the beauty of flying suggestive of the idea that Glenn Frey is free now. I teared up at the end. We loved the video. My older son, already a veteran of half a dozen rock shows, thought it was the best-used video screen he had seen to date. That kid has seen Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Kiss, and Iron Maiden… all bands with fine visual acuity and impressive screen shows. Have you considered the role of expectations in your review? You started by talking about money… I got my tickets for 20 bucks each and came in feeling great that i was going to see professional live rock music for that price. I knew I could not go wrong. You spent a bunch of money to sit in the middle in the front, and your expectations probably reflected that. I, for one, am going to see Joe Walsh every chance I get, having kicked myself all weekend for not catching his act years ago. Bad Company… I tend to agree with your Vegas comment. I’ve seen that band twice in the last 3 years. Had enough of them.
    tom

  3. Linda Weber says:

    Hey Bozo get your ears checked! Both groups were amazing!
    The worse review I have read since the tour started!

    • Ivor Levene Ivor Levene says:

      Bozo is my cousin, I’m Clarence the Clown! As I said, reviews are nothing more than the opinion of the reviewer and are highly subjective. I did flush all the wax out prior to the show however. Cheers….

  4. W C says:

    Agreed, Bad Company sounded flat because the original guitar player and songwriter Mick Ralphs bailed on the tour after tickets went onsale. Effectively you only saw half of Bad Company, and the rest of the band were replacements. Instead they used Howard Leese (who is a fine musician), and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowed. Mick’s sound and touch made the songs sound dull. He is the secret sauce of the band.

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