RIVERSIDE: Joe Walsh brings new life to analog

By Vanessa Franko on November 2, 2011 10:47 PM


See a photo gallery of Joe Walsh’s performance.

With the spinning of a hard drive backing up modern music, the world needs an analog man like Joe Walsh.

The guitarist performed at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside on Wednesday night, melding classics from his years of solo work and with the James Gang and the Eagles, as well as two tracks from his forthcoming album, “Analog Man.”

Walsh is renowned for his guitar work, and rightfully so because it’s just fun to watch him play the blues, but his witty and sardonic lyrics bring a sense of humor to the table that few others do. After all, this the man who sang “Pick up the dog doo, hope that it’s hard.”

His set, which included two new songs–“Analog Man” and “Wrecking Ball,” kept the same spirit, with the former having Walsh musing about being an analog man in a digital world “What’s wrong with records? I think they sound great,” to references of his former life as a party animal and its destruction in the latter.

“I don’t remember a lot about that, but I’m told I had a good time,” Walsh said while introducing “Wrecking Ball.”

“Analog Man” will be Walsh’s first album of new material in 20 years.

“I never got a lot of momentum because of my day job,” he cracked, referring to his work with the Eagles.

With a backing band of nine members (including two drummers and an auxiliary percussionist, three backup singers, a guitarist, bassist and keyboardist), momentum was anything but a problem for Walsh as they played for about an hour-and-a-half.

In an interview last week, Walsh said he didn’t want the LA-types in his band. He sought out players who would challenge him–and on songs like the James Gang classic, “Walk Away,” a tune Walsh has been playing for four decades, and “Turn to Stone,” they rose to the challenge, pushing Walsh to breathe new life into solos that have influenced generations of guitarists.

Highlights included “Life’s Been Good,” before which Walsh delivered a formal apology for anyone whose parents overplayed the song, “Funk #49” and encore-ender “All Night Long.”

The show was very well attended–the lower level only had a few seats in the very back rows empty–and the sound and production showed off the theater’s best assets. He’s the right kind of artist for the venue, too–earning a standing ovation early in the set. He also filmed and recorded Wednesday’s show to use on his website.

Walsh, who said in an interview last week that he was looking forward to playing Riverside’s renovated Fox, complimented the venue almost immediately.

“What a theater,” he said.

Set list:
“Welcome to the Club”
“A Life of Illusion”
“Walk Away”
“Analog Man”
“Rocky Mountain Way”
“I Shall Be Released”
“Wrecking Ball”
“Turn to Stone”
“In the City”
“Personal Manager”
“Funk #49”
“Life’s Been Good”
“Life in the Fast Lane”

A song about Walsh’s love for a woman’s features that I won’t list here because I like having a job.
“All Night Long”