Joe Walsh is Joe Cool at BST Hyde Park

“It was more fun being in my 20s in the 70s than being in my 70s in the 20s,” said Joe Walsh during the Eagles epic 2-hour show Sunday at BST Hyde Park sponsored by American Express. 

But at age 75, he still plays guitar like he did in the mid-1970s when he joined the Eagles and powered Hotel California toward becoming one of the most-purchased albums of all time. 

Joe Cool is best known for playing perhaps the most memorable guitar solo in rock history on “Hotel”, as it’s known to guitarists in Thailand and Myanmar. Yet he’s been somehow under-rated in the pantheon of guitar gods. 

Despite addiction issues over his career, Joe Cool has managed to outlive Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Prince, Eddie Van Halen, George Harrison, Peter Green and others. Thanks in part to the mellow vibe and slower pace of Eagles’ songs, Walsh can still nail his leads while Jimmy Page can only look back with devilish pride on the insane intensity of his earlier days. Unlike David Gilmour and Eric Clapton, Joe Cool is still with the band that made him famous. 

Rolling out their American treasure trove of classic songs, the Eagles sound as good as they possibly could for guys who broke onto the scene 50 years ago. The apparent perfection of their vocal harmonies made me wonder if sound engineers were applying live pitch correction. I don’t think so. And no engineer could replicate the majesty of Joe’s solos. After seeing Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards the previous night, I was amazed at Joe’s clean, precise and dexterous finger-work from his staccato bends to his trills. He’s still making complex passages look easy. He’s still playing with a talk-box. I never got the sense of him being a tired old man who can’t match his earlier exploits. 

After wrapping up a long tour of the United States and Europe, Don Henley thanked the fans in London “in case we don’t make it back”.  Even if they’re exhausted, Henley and the Eagles should realize that they sound better than other bands of their generation. Vince Gill adds warmth and country charm to songs such as Take It To The Limit, and Deacon Frey is doing more than filling his father’s shoes. The longer the Eagles keep playing, the more fans are going to discover that Joe Walsh really does belong higher up the totem pole of guitar gods. 

words and images Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved