Joe Walsh brings regular-guy charm and killer James Gang riffs to Coquitlam



American rock great Joe Walsh played Coquitlam’s Red Robinson Show Theatre last night (September 7), and pretty well packed the place. Judging by the rabid response it got, the vast majority of the crowd of mostly 40- and 50-somethings were hoping to hell he’d play the 1970 James Gang hit, “Funk #49”.

(Not to be confused with 1969’s “Funk #48”–that one’s not nearly as rockin’.)

Walsh–who’s Ringo Starr’s brother-in-law, in case you didn’t know–got a lot of help in blasting forth “Funk #49” and the other gems from his impressive career. His band included a rhythm guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, three backup singers, two drummers, and a percussionist. “We have a selection of people who hit things,” quipped the 64-year-old rocker at one point.

Throughout the show, Walsh–who’s looking mighty slim and trim these days–poked fun at himself, and kept things very casual, driving home the impression that he likes to be perceived as just a regular Joe. “High school was the toughest 12 years of my life,” he joked before strumming a gorgeous acoustic guitar for the intro to the laidback “Life of Illusion”.

Other highlights included “In the City”, a song Walsh first wrote for the awesome 1979 action flick The Warriors, and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”, which he dedicated to his good friend, the late Levon Helm, whose image was repeatedly shown via video. “I’m not okay with it yet,” Walsh said of Helm’s death, explaining that playing Dylan’s song helps him deal with the loss.

“If your parents played this all the time when you were growing up, I’m sorry,” he said before heading into his much-loved solo hit from ’78, the reggae-tinged “Life’s Been Good”. I’m guessing most of the audience members last night played it all the time themselves, forget about their folks.

Partway through the gig some bozo in the crowd hollered out “Hotel California!”, referring to the massive Eagles hit that Walsh played some lead-guitar on. But the only Eagles tune that made it into the set was the rifftastic number he cowrote for the 1976 Hotel California album, “Life in the Fast Lane.”

Walsh ended the show by encoring with “Rocky Mountain Way”, the classic-rock staple he recorded with his group Barnstorm back in ’73. That song went over well, but it’s a tad too plodding for me. And besides, I’m not so sure that Rocky Mountain Way really is all that much better than the way we had. I mean, come on…



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