Ageless Rockers Paul Rodgers and Joe Walsh Rock On
By Skip Sheffield
Too old to rock ‘n’ roll? Never.
Paul Rodgers’ amazing voice is as strong as ever at age 65. Rodgers opened the show with his reunited group, Bad Company, May 29, 2016 at Perfect Vodka Amphitheater in West Palm Beach in the aptly-named “One Hell of a Night” tour.
Joe Walsh, who turns 69 Nov. 20, has been performing professionally since 1965. He still plays with the joy of a kid with his first guitar.
Rodgers and Walsh have been trading places as opening acts. In West Palm Beach Paul Rodgers & Bad Company took to the stage after a solo acoustic act who called himself Makana, after the Hawaiian slack key guitar.
Paul Rodgers is looking trim and fit, with a fashionable 5-o’clock shadow light beard. Rodgers has evidently done something to augment his hair, which was thinning the last time I saw him.
Though regular Bad Co. guitarist Mick Ralphs was absent, two replacement guitarists more than made up. They were Howard Leese from Heart and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes. Original drummer Simon Kirke is the de facto band leader. The set list was heavy on greatest hits from the groups Free and Bad Co. Rodgers has never sounded better. He must have forged steel vocal chords.
Joe Walsh has never been noted for his vocals, though he does fine. It is his guitar skills that really make him a special performer. Walsh must have an amazing guitar collection, for practically every song in an 11-song set, a roadie handed him a different guitar to strap on. Walsh began playing professionally in his native Ohio in 1965. He burst on the national scene with the hard-rocking trio James Gang in 1968. Walsh opened the set with James Gang’s biggest hit, “Walk Away,” aided and abetted by his longtime guitarist-in-arms, Waddy Wachtel and Joe Vitale on drums and vocals. He also played the group’s most difficult number, The Bomber, which is a medley of “Closet Queen,” “Bolero” and “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” Walsh also gave a bow to his latest gig, The Eagles, with “Take It To The Limit,” which he dedicated to the late Glenn Frey.
Walsh strapped on a plastic tube and yet another guitar for his fitting finale, “Rocky Mountain Way,” complete with “talk box” effects. Yes, it was one Hell of a night.