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Concert Reviews:
Bad Company and Joe Walsh deliver one hell of a night at DTE
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- The One Hell Of A Night Tour certainly lived up to its billing on Wednesday night, June 22, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre.

And while the pairing of Bad Company and Joe Walsh was potent enough on its own, some personal touches made the night even more special than the 9,000 or so fans could have anticipated.

Those came during Walsh's 85-minute set, the first visit to the metro area by an Eagles member since group co-founder and Royal Oak native Glenn Frey died on Jan. 18. Walsh has played the group's "Take It To The Limit" as a dedication to Frey throughout the tour, but on Wednesday instead of merely dedicating the song he dedicated "the entire show...to my brother and fellow bandmate." The performance was accompanied by video screen footage of an eagle soaring in the sky and finished with a photo of the Eagles.

For the encore, meanwhile, Walsh added a portion of the group's "Heartache Tonight," announcing "That's for you, Glenn" as it finished. He then closed on a high note, bringing Ann Arbor's "The Voice" finalist Laith Al-Saadi and country star/"American Idol" judge Keith Urban, who's playing DTE on Thursday, June 23, out for a show-closing rendition of "Rocky Mountain Way."

But even without those moments Walsh's show was a winner. Backed by a tight 10-piece group -- including longtime sidehand Joe Vitale on drums and keyboards and ace guitarist Waddy Wachtel -- Walsh surveyed his 50-year career with hits from the James Gang ("Funk #49," "Walk Away"), the Eagles ("Life in the Fast Lane"), Barnstorm ("Rocky Mountain Way") and solo favorites, including "In The City" and a medley of "Mother Says," "The Bomber," "Closet Queen," a bit of Ravel's "Bolero" and the James Gang's psychedelic "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."

Walsh also mixed good humor -- a disco break during "Funk #49" and the always entertaining "Life's Been Good" -- with some serious chops, particularly during an epic jam with Wachtel on "Turn To Stone" and guitar solos during "Life's Been Good" and "Life In the Fast Lane." It as clearly an emotional night for Walsh, but he channeled it into a performance that felt like more than just another stop on the tour.

And Bad Company was just...excellent, from Paul Rodgers' still freakishly powerful voice to a set list that covered all the required bases ("Can't Get Enough," "Bad Company," "Feel Like Makin' Love," "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy," etc.) but also tossed in a welcome batch of rarities such as the opening "Live For The Music," "Gone, Gone, Gone," "Elecricland" and an acoustic "See The Sunlight."

The tandem of Howard Leese and the Black Crowes' Rich Robinson, meanwhile, more than covered for the absence of founding guitarist Mick Ralphs, nailing the forceful dynamics of "Shooting Star," "Run With the Pack" and "Feel Like Makin' Love." The crowd did its part, too, singing along with gusto each time Rodgers prompted it, while the 14-song set's production -- including smoke, smoke jets and video screens positioned over the amplifier stacks -- provided an extra bit of visual flash to complement the group's brawny hard rock.

Nostalgia was the order of the night, of course; You could count on one hand the number of post-70s songs between the two acts. But it all sounded as fresh as when it first came out -- a bona fide hell of an achievement and a testament of genuinely enduring musical virility.



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