American Music Theatre – Lancaster, PA – 31 July 2016
Words and Photos by Scott Smith
Joe Walsh visited the American Music Theater in Lancaster, PA on July 31, as part of his solo tour. The 1,600 seat venue was sold out and fans were eager to see and hear the legendary singer/songwriter and guitarist. Observing the large crowd, there were a few young fans, but most were probably purchasing James Gang and Barnstorm albums back when they were released 40 years ago. Despite the age of the audience, they were a rambunctious bunch and some often shouted out complimentary remarks to Walsh in between songs, to which he often responded back.
JD and the Straight Shot opened the show and after a brief 15-minute intermission, Joe Walsh and his large band appeared on the stage to thunderous applause. Walsh is touring with an accomplished list of musicians including his former Barnstorm drummer, Joe Vitale, and legendary guitarist, Waddy Wachtel. Rounding out the group is a second drummer, Chad Cromwell, bassist, Larry Young, and Jimmy Wallace and DJ Clayton Janes on keyboards. Walsh also has four backing vocalists including Leslie Fuller, Lois Mahalia, Windy Wagner and Rickey Washington.
Walsh wasted no time getting started, as he tore into the James Gang hit, “Walk Away.” He followed with “Analog Man,” off his 2012 album of the same name. The group delivered a phenomenal version of Sly & the Family Stone’s, “Everyday People,” with Rickey Washington superbly delivering the main vocals.
After a lengthy jam during “The Bomber” medley, Walsh followed up with “Take It to the Limit,” dedicating the song to his former Eagles bandmate, Glenn Frey, who passed away in January. It was a touching tribute and during the song, photos of Frey were shown on the large video screen behind the stage.
During the show, several four minute songs turned into eight-minute jam sessions as Walsh and Wachtel traded riffs. Both displayed incredible precision on guitar, as any fan would expect.
Walsh also engaged with the audience between songs and he got several laughs with his antidotes. At one point he quipped, “when I hired Chad Cromwell for this tour, I told him he looked familiar. He then reminded me that he was my drummer for 3 years in the 80’s. Remember those wonderful 80’s? I don’t!” Walsh was known for his substance abuse and hard partying decades ago, but fortunately for him and for his fans, he became sober in 1993.
Walsh finished out the evening with “Life’s Been Good,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” and one encore song, “Rocky Mountain Way.” He played 12 songs in total which spanned his 50-year career during his 90-minute performance. Personally, I expected that his voice wouldn’t be as strong as it was years ago as is the case for many aging vocalists, but Walsh sounded just as good as he did decades ago. He may not have taken good care of himself in the 80’s, but he took care of his voice.
Spending a few hours with Joe Walsh only makes you want to spend more time with him. A few more songs and a few more laughs would have been appreciated, but that’s the case with any great show. We always want more and we’d be willing to listen, “all night long.” If you have a chance to see Walsh on tour, don’t hesitate to get a ticket. His performance is one that shouldn’t be missed.