By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Midflorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, Florida–May 28, 2016
When I heard that Joe Walsh and Bad Company were embarking on their 25-city “One Hell of a Night Tour” I said, “Hell, yeah! I’m so there!” Especially in light of the loss of Glenn Frey earlier this year as well as other legends in rock, I felt even more compelled to put their stop in Tampa on my priority list of concerts this year.
The evening of May 28th at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre started with a downpour about 90 minutes before the evening of concerts began. Poor concertgoers were in line (doors opened at 6 p.m.) getting pounded as I sought refuge in the car until it was safe to leave. It was then typically hot, sunny, and humid like most evenings after a Florida rainstorm.
The support band for the evening was from a similar tropical environment—Hawaii. Hawaiian slack-key guitarist and singer Makana played as the crowd was beginning to waltz in and take seats. An internationally acclaimed guitarist and supporter of populist causes, Makana warmed the crowd with a gorgeous instrumental “Dance of the Red Poppies” and his rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California”, wowing everyone with his awesome singing voice. A few of my pals exclaimed after, “Hey! This guy is good!”
Next up was legendary singer/songwriter Joe Walsh who came out and promised the crowd to play songs from The Eagles, James Gang, as well as his solo career. He was backed by wonderful harmonies provided by top notch singers and the off-the-scale talents of guitarist Waddy Wachtel and drummers Joe Vitale and Chad Cromwell–to name a few members. Walsh and the band were a well-oiled machine that maneuvered through his vast repertoire of hits. A particularly touching moment was Walsh’s dedication to bandmate and “brother” Glenn Frey with “Take It To The Limit”. Photos of Glenn Frey through the years and a man in the flying suit were shown on the screen behind the band.
Throughout the concert, Walsh peppered the songs with a little humor as he talked to the audience saying, “Let’s see if you know this song. Let’s see if I know this song!” He continued saying, “Your parents really like this one” and propelled into “In The City”. Other highlights included James Gang’s “Funk #49”, “Walk Away”, and “The Bomber”. When Walsh played “Life Has Been Good To Me” the crowd sang along in unison and videos of Walsh with many of his “rock star” colleagues were displayed on the backdrop screen. The song was updated humorously with the words…They send me emails and tell me I’m great. Everybody stood and was having a great time and Walsh asked, “It turned into a lovely evening, didn’t it?”
Walsh ended the set with crowd favorite “Life In the Fast Lane” which featured videos of car racing and then everyone went wild for the expected encore song “Rocky Mountain Way”. The whole set was one big time-travel to the 70’s and 80s but this song in particular was special because I distinctly remember hearing it in 1973—it was the first time I had heard the talk-box in a song until Peter Frampton used it again in his breakthrough song “Show Me The Way”. I watched Walsh doing the talk-box and realized no time had really passed—his voice and playing was as good as ever.
Next up was Bad Company or Paul Rodgers & Company—the band I was ecstatic to see. Bad Company’s Greatest Hits is my go-to CD for drum practice so I know the drum parts (sorry, Simon Kirke). Bad Company filled my teen years and later I was a huge fan of The Firm, playing the song “Radioactive” over and over on my turntable. Now, there has been a little bit of Internet criticism since Mick Ralphs (Bad Company, Mott the Hoople) sat out this tour and Rich Robinson was filling in. Still, I wanted to see for myself.
The Bad Company concert exceeded my expectation!! Not only was each song filled with theatrical “fun” props like shooting smoke, gorgeous videos, and lighting but Paul Rodger’s voice has to be the best on this planet right now. Honestly, I cannot think of another singer today who can compare. He—and the show—are exactly how a rock music show should be. Rodgers held the mic stand high and twirled it, showed a chock full of energy, and looked mighty handsome and fit .
There are too many highlights to list. The crowd sang along to the chorus of “Ready For Love” which was totally soulful and then he announced a “never performed live” song dedicated to “Lucy”, diving into “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds”. Videos of rainbow-colored stripes and lots of smoke filled the stage. Simply gorgeous! Rodgers again played the piano for “Running With The Pack” and then moved into the rocking “Movin’ On” which Rich Robinson cut into a striking guitar solo. “Shooting Star” featured a video of burning candles and celestial objects ending with photos of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Everyone in the crowd was singing and waving arms in the air to this moving song. The only thing was a sea of hand-held cigarette lighters. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy” revved up the mood again as well as “Can’t Get Enough”. Finally, the whole crowd was standing and dancing for the encore, which included “Rock Steady” and of course, “Bad Company”.
The “One Hell of a Night Tour” was aptly named as it was one night I didn’t want to end. What a fantastic line-up and evening of memorable songs and a rock ‘n’ roll guilty pleasure.
Tampa-May 28, 2016
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