Monday, September 17, 2012

Joe Walsh, Toto, Gin Blossoms stand out at another satisfying Jack FM show in Irvine

My original (and somewhat shorter) review of Jack's 7th Show held on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 was originally posted on The Orange County Register's Soundcheck blog on Sunday morning, Sept. 16, 2012. A special "thank you" to Bob Steshetz for the use of his photos and video footage with this post.

Gin Blossoms lead singer Robin Wilson ventured into the crowd during the band's set at Jack's 7th Show on Sept. 15.

With six artists performing over the course of exactly six hours – Missing Persons kicked things off at 4:48 p.m. and Joe Walsh wrapped everything up at 10:48 – Jack’s 7th Show offered up a menu sure to please casual concert-goers out to party hard on a Saturday night.
With all acts playing relatively short sets at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, hits were the main course, giving the audience all the substance they needed to feed on at an event that started at about the same time temperatures mercifully began to drop from the 100-degree mark.
Ironically, it was on a similarly blistering day almost 30 years ago that Missing Persons and Walsh shared the same stage at the US Festival. This writer’s most vivid memories of that concert (May 30, 1983, at Glen Helen Park in San Bernardino) is how Missing Persons was placed in a true no-win situation when that band had to follow just-breaking U2, which simply blew away the massive crowd with one of the most compelling sets ever in Southern California.
Walsh, who went on much later that day under cooler skies, delivered a solid set that lacked the power of U2 or David Bowie’s impressive finale, yet it was exactly the sort of entertaining rock show he brought to his headlining 75-minute turn in Irvine on Saturday (Sept. 15, 2012).
A successful member of several classic bands (principally James Gang and the Eagles), the 64-year-old Hall of Famer also has scored with solo smashes along the way. This night Walsh performed a bit of everything in a cohesive and winning set, launching with his 1973 hit “Rocky Mountain Way.”
Highlights centered on his distinctive vocals and slide guitar work. Crowd favorites came courtesy of the comedic “Life’s Been Good” and Eagles tracks like “In the City” and the night-ending “Life in the Fast Lane,” but even better were his tribute to late friend and Band drummer Levon Helm (via “I Shall Be Released”) and the weighty title track from his June return Analog Man, Walsh’s first solo album in 20 years.
Toto's Steve Lukather
Pat Benatar is usually a solid bet to deliver a rousing show but a summer-long outing with Journey seems to have taken some of the luster from her normally powerful soprano. Throughout her hour-long set, she sometimes clipped notes or simply backed off the microphone.
But the singer, her husband-guitarist-keyboardist Neil Giraldo and their backing band definitely pleased the crowd with hard-rocking versions of “All Fired Up,” “Invincible,” “Promises in the Dark” and the finisher, “Heartbreaker,” which included a middle break where Benatar and Giraldo effectively sang a bit of the Johnny Cash classic “Ring of Fire.”
Toto’s songs lack the kind of big arena-filling sound that makes it easier for hard rock bands to strike at these sorts of festivals, but thanks to incredible musicianship all around (notably guitarist Steve Lukather’s dazzling solos), the crowd was quickly won over. “Hold The Line” and “Rosanna” got many people on their feet, while a beautiful take on “Africa,” featuring guest bassist Nathan East’s baritone vocals, added a world-music vibe to that classic. In addition to East and Lukather, the band features Steve Porcaro (keyboards, vocals), Simon Phillips (drums) and Joseph Williams (lead vocals). Bassist Mike Porcaro, who sadly has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) is no longer touring with the band. Formed in Los Angeles in 1977, Toto will celebrate their 35th anniversary in 2013.
Hammer time.

MC Hammer’s short 20-minute set may have been marred by bass-heavy sound that muddied everything, but his still-impressive dance moves and performance of his two monster hits (“2 Legit 2 Quit” and “U Can’t Touch This”) were a welcome opportunity for the crowd to enjoy the cooling air and get on their feet and dance.

It has been 20 years since Gin Blossoms released their striking major-label debut, New Miserable Experience, yet the Tempe quintet’s melodic brand of country-tinged power-pop sounds as relevant and tuneful as when they first set out in 1987. Whether on big hits (“Hey Jealousy,” “Follow You Down”) or new gems (“Miss Disarray”), Robin Wilson’s melancholy vocals, embellished by the twin guitar work of Scott Johnson and Jesse Valenzuela, thrilled throughout 40 fleeting minutes. Make sure to check out the video of the band performing "Lost Horizons" at the bottom of this post, courtesy of Bob Steshetz.

Like poor Hammer, Missing Persons, still led by singer Dale Bozzio, faced a mix drowned in low end. Still, the group offered up energetic versions of New Wave favorites like “Mental Hopscotch,” “Words” and their best song, “Walking in L.A.,” much to the delight of those who braved the heat and got to the show early.

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