Kansas City’s thirst for classic rock is exceeded only by its hunger for a Super Bowl berth.
Monday night, close to 8,000 people nearly filled Starlight Theatre to listen to about three hours of songs that have been around for more than 40 years, songs that revived plenty of warm memories and prompted lots of loud ovations and sing-alongs.
This was a double headliner tour. Joe Walsh, a native of Wichita, went first. He wasted no time establishing his classic rock heritage, opening with “Walk Away,” a solid gold nugget by the James Gang, his first major band.
His stellar band included Waddy Wachtel, a guitar slinger with a long resume that includes affiliations with James Taylor, Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks, Iggy Pop, Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne and Walsh’s longtime bandmate, Joe Vitale.
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He peppered his set with wiseceracks and one-liners — he greeted the crowd with his standard “Good morning” — keeping the mood jovial and light throughout the show. The set list included the title track from his latest album, “Analog Man,” a screed about technology that had an old man “get off my lawn” theme lyrically.
It also included three Eagles tracks: “Take It to the Limit,” which Walsh dedicated to the late Glenn Frey, “In the City” and “Life in the Fast Lane,” all of them played true to their original versions. Walsh gave his bandmates plenty of spotlight. Wachtel showed off his skills during the long jam in “Turn to Stone.” During that song, the video screen displayed an array of war scenes and other footage with a political bent.
Walsh’s entourage included DJ Clayton Jones, who turned the James Gang classic “Funk #49” into a disco/EDM anthem. He closed with some of his more popular solo material: “Life’s Been Good to Me,” a rock anthem about hedonism and self-indulgence, and “Rocky Mountain Way.”
The 2016 version of Bad Company includes two founding members, lead singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke. Founding guitarist Mick Ralphs is not on this tour for health reasons. He was replaced by Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson.
The set list was a litany of hits, all performed the way they were recorded: “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Shooting Star,” which aroused a hearty sing-along, “Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy” and “Bad Company.”
Rodgers, 66, has shed little of his rock star panache. He is still dexterous with a microphone stand and loose on his feet, and his voice remains hearty and nimble. He performed a couple of songs on the piano, including “Electric Land.” The stage show included blasts of fog and plumes of smoke and plenty of graphic elements broadcast on the large video screens behind Kirke.
They closed with one more classic rock standard, “Can’t Get Enough,” the band’s first hit, now 42 years old, whose title describes the crowd’s insatiable thirst for both bands and their timeless rock songs.
Joe Walsh: Walk Away; Analog Man; Mother Says; The Bomber: Closet Queen; Bolero; Cast Your Fate to the Wind; Take It to the Limit; Turn to Stone; In the City; Funk No. 49; Life’s Been Good; Life in the Fast Lane; Rocky Mountain Way
Bad Company: Live for the Music; Gone, Gone, Gone; Feel Like Makin’ Love; Burnin’ Sky; Electric Land; Ready for Love; Crazy Circles; See the Sunlight; Run With the Pack; Movin’ On; Shooting Star; Rock ’N’ Roll Fantasy; Bad Company; Can’t Get Enough