On Sunday night (November 13), Joe Walsh brought his annual VetsAid charity event to Columbus, Ohio. Aided by an assortment entirely made up of businesses with connections to Buckeye State, the all-sold Nationwide Arena (and thousands more via livestream) have come together to support American veterans through the power of rock ‘n’ roll. As the night progressed, there was one phrase Walsh used repeatedly to describe VetsAid 2022: “This will never happen again.”
Maybe it’s a little exaggerated, but hey, the guy is a certified rock star, hyperbole has been working with him for half a century. Indeed, the exaggerated emotionality was justified. The premise of VetsAid stems from cult rock music. It’s something straight out of the movie Wayne’s World, seeking change, healing, and some anonymous sense of the sublime with one big, earth-shaking rock show.
But, damn it if Walsh doesn’t get as close as possible to achieving such a bold goal, especially in the context of modern America. The Breeders, The Black Keys, Nine Inch Nails, recently reunited James Gang and special guest Dave Grohl join forces to deliver a truly special night of music, all while raising money for Ohio-based veteran organizations.
The show kicked off at 6:00 p.m., with Walsh’s son filling in for popular Clevelander Drew Carey, who had to step down from hosting duties due to COVID-19. After the initial introduction, he wasted no time reminding the audience of the status of the performers, even joking about having a roulette wheel in the green room to determine the order of the sets.
From there, The Breeders took the stage. Daytonians seemed really excited to be there, giggling between songs and dropping Ohio signs at an almost alarming rate, even having a cover of “Shocker in Gloomtown” by fellow Daytonians Guided By Voices. The set had an energetic and fun start to the night, culminating in Grohl’s debut. After a stellar performance of “Cannonball,” Grohl joined the band onstage for “Gigantic,” a song from singer Kim Deal’s days in the Pixies.
Then, somewhat shockingly, came James Gang facing Walsh’s front. Possibly buoyed by the palpable surprise in the room that James Gang was performing so early in the night (the roulette wheel was probably no joke after all), the excitement in the arena increased even more as the group blasted off on their first full spin. It’s been on set since 2006. Once again, Grohl jumped on stage to help finish the performance, this time taking to the drums to drum “Funk #49”.