VetsAid 2023: Joe Walsh, Jeff Lynne's ELO, Flaming Lips

Joe Walsh’s seventh annual VetsAid took place at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater in Chula Vista for the first time in CA.  The first one began in 2017 in Fairfax, VA followed by Tacoma, WA and Houston, TX. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic 2020 was a livestream and 2021 as well, but was done in Walsh’s basement. VetsAid returned to a live audience last year in Columbus, OH. Walsh, not even two years old, lost his father who was just 24 in a plane crash in Okinawa in 1949. Walsh and his wife Marjorie created VetsAid to help vets and families who lost their loved ones in combat. The lineups over the years have included the Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, Gary Clark Jr (2017), the Doobies Brothers, Don Henley James Taylor, Chris Stapleton (Haim) (2018), ZZ Top, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, Jason Isbell (2019), Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Alice Cooper, Vince Gill (2020), Walsh & his band and archive footage (2021), James Gang, Dave Grohl, Nine Inch Nails, and The Black Keys (2022). In those six years, VetsAid raised over $3 million. 

This year, the concert took place on November 12th, the day after Veteran’s day. Before the concert a photo-op of all performing artists and a press conference with Joe and Marjorie Walsh took place backstage. The concert lasted over 6 hours. Before it started a video with a speech by President John F. Kennedy on 11-11-1961 at Arlington Cemetery talking about the first veterans day which took place 11-11-1919 one year after the end of WWI as well as the end of WWII 26 years later. The Marine Band San Diego performed the U.S. national anthem, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and “The Marines Hymn.” 

The event was hosted by Walsh’s son-in-law Christian Quilici and The Price is Right host Drew Carey, a veteran himself. A few of the famous donors of the event were Jimmy Iovine, Walsh’s brother-in-law Ringo Starr, Tom Hanks, and Dustin Hoffman. Between bands there were videos shown relating to the work VetsAid does and speakers in-person talking about how VetsAid has helped them and their families. The first group was Lucius and vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig were Roger Waters’ back-up singers on his Us+Them tour. It was just a month and half ago they were performing at Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Festival in Dana Point, CA. As always Wolfe and Laessig came out in matching outfits. They each played a floor tom and synth-axe together. “The Man I’ll Never Find” was dedicated to Joe and Marjorie. Their set also included “Dusty Trails” and “Genevieve.” 

Next up was The Flaming Lips, a group that always puts on a magical experience. Their last L.A. area show was August 18th at the YouTube Theater. This year marks the band’s 40th anniversary. Their theme was their 2002 album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots which their tour celebrated the 20th anniversary of. There were giant inflatable pink robots onstage. Although it was a shortened set, it was still in full production including a rainbow at the end and balloon letters spelling out F*ck Ya VetsAid 2023 which were thrown in the audience. They performed the first songs from that album as well as “She Don’t Use Jelly,” and “Race for the Prize.” 

The third act was The War On Drugs who also performed at Ohana Festival and a week before that at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival. The War On Drugs opened with “Pain” followed by “Red Eyes” dedicated to their keyboardist Robbie Bennett who was home in NJ recovering. Wolfe and Laessig joined in at the end for “I Don’t Live Here Anymore.”

The second to last set was Jeff Lynne’s ELO which was their first performance since 2019. The set was 10 major hits back to back starting with “Evil Woman” and ending with a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” ELO was one of the biggest group’s of the 70’s and 80’s with three number one U.K. albums (one in 2019), and seven U.S. Gold/Platinum selling albums. 

Before Walsh played there was a special guest. Jack Tempchin who wrote the Eagles’ hit “Peaceful Easy Feeling” came out to perform the song solo acoustic. Although none of the seven members of the Eagles were from Southern CA, and were born all over the U.S. they are known as one of the most important and iconic groups to form in Los Angeles, CA. Walsh is a native of Wichita, Kansas. Walsh joined the Eagles in 1975 and on November 20th it will be his 75th birthday. Before joining the Eagles and the release of their biggest album Hotel California, Walsh had already released three albums as a member of James Gang, two as a solo artist, and one as member of Barnstorm. Since joining the Eagles, Walsh has released another nine albums. His most recent San Diego show was with the Eagles at the Pechanga Arena in March. Walsh was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as a member of the Eagles. 

Walsh, originally scheduled to play at 10:00 P.M. went on 15 minutes late from the changeover so his hour long set went past curfew. Walsh played a mix of solo, Eagles, and James Gang hits starting with “In The City,” followed by his anthem “Life’s Been Good” and “Funk 49” which are usually included in Eagles concerts. Stephen Stills of legendary Laurel Canyon bands Buffalo Springfield, and Crosby, Stills,and Nash joined for three songs. Like Walsh, Stills is very closely associated with Los Angeles, but was born in Dallas, TX and David Crosby was the only L.A. native in CSN. Stills also performed at the Crossroads festival and is a fellow Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer as a member of both Crosby, Stills, Nash and Buffalo Springfield. Together they performed Buffalo Springfield’s biggest hit “For What It’s Worth,” Stills’ biggest solo hit “Love the One You're With,” and Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way,” with his legendary talk box solo. After Stills and Walsh hugged and he walked off the stage it seemed like that was the finale, then Walsh performed “All Night Long” ending another incredible evening helping those and families of those who served for our country. 

Walsh’s band included Clapton bassist of over 30 years Nathan East, CSN drummer Joe Vitale who was also an Eagles touring member (77-80), and guitarist Tom Bukovac 

ELO Setlist:

  1. Evil Woman
  2. Do Ya
  3. Rockaria!
  4. Livin’ Thing
  5. All Over the World
  6. Telephone Line
  7. Turn to Stone
  8. Don’t Bring Me Down
  9. Mr. Blue Sky
  10. Roll Over Beethoven- Chuck Berry

Joe Walsh Setlist:

  1. In The City
  2. Life’s Been Good 
  3. Turn to Stone
  4. Funk #49- James Gang
  5. For What It’s Worth- Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills
  6. Love the One You’re With-Stephen Stills with Stills
  7. Rocky Mountain Way with Stills
  8. All Night Long