The state of Ohio stood at attention this past weekend for a musical salute to our nation’s veterans with VetsAid. Organized by Joe Walsh, this year’s benefit concert at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena hosted an all-Ohio lineup including Cleveland’s Nine Inch Nails and James Gang, Akron’s The Black Keys, and Dayton’s The Breeders, as well as special guest and Warren native Dave Grohl.

Though Joe Walsh only lived in Columbus for three years, he still considers the Buckeye State capital his home. The central Ohio city apparently shares the sentiment, renaming a street outside the arena Joe Walsh Way in a ceremony earlier in the week. With VetsAid, the Eagles guitarist is able to unite three of his life’s passions: rock n’ roll, Ohio, and veterans. The mission is personal to Walsh, whose father died in active duty on Okinawa when Joe was just 20 months old.

“When I found myself in a position where I could in some way give back to our nation’s veterans how could I not?” Walsh said during a pre-show press conference. “Seeing how rock ‘n’ roll is something I do best, it’s also the least I could do for those who served and continue to serve our country. So we started VetsAid bringing together the two things that saved my life over and over again – the friends I’ve made and the music we’ve played together.”

While the lineup was filled with rock royalty, only one act holds the title of Best Damn Band In The Land. The Ohio State University Marching Band made a surprise appearance to start the show, performing Ohio’s official rock song “Hang On Sloopy” as well as “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

Unfortunately, comedian, The Price Is Right host, and Cleveland native Drew Carrey was forced to miss VetsAid due to COVID. In his absence, Joe Walsh’s son filled in and introduced The Breeders to open the event proper. The Dayton alt-rockers nodded to fellow Ohioans with covers of Guided By Voices and Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, before hosting Grohl’s first sit-in of the night on a set-closing “Cannonball Gigantic”. The Pixies cover pointed back to bassist/vocalist Kim Deal‘s days in the Boston outfit before moving back home to start The Breeders.

Each act was given a 45-minute set, which kept the show moving at a brisk pace. Walsh’s son at one point joked there was a roulette wheel to determine the set order, and that may have proved true with James Gang performing next. For what was billed as One Last Ride, the power trio of Walsh, bassist Dale Peters, and drummer Jimmy Fox still had plenty of gas left in the tank.

The band, augmented by keyboardist Mark Avsec and a trio of backup singers, tore through favorites from the three studio albums released with Walsh including “Walk Away”, “Collage”, and “The Bomber” suite before Grohl filled in on drums to close with “Funk #49”. When asked by Billboard whether this would really be the final James Gang show, Walsh said, “Glenn Frey used to say, ‘Never say never,’ so I’m not.”

Moving on to heavy-hitting contemporaries The Black Keys, the Rubber City duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney didn’t need any help from Grohl for their set. Opting for just one cut from their new disc, Dropout Boogie, with “Wild Child”, the Keys instead loaded their set with hits like “Fever”, “Gold on the Ceiling”, “Little Black Submarines”, and the closing “Lonely Boy”. Though they’ve come a long way since, the band made sure to look back to its roots with Auerbach recalling, “This is a song we cut back in the day in a basement down in Akron, Ohio,” ahead of “Your Touch” from 2006’s Magic Potion.

Related: The Black Keys To Release First-Ever Show On Vinyl For Band’s 20th Anniversary [Video]

Nine Inch Nails delivered the penultimate set of the evening, storming the stage with “Wish” as the houselights were still on. Amid the industrial grit that accompanies a NIN set, frontman Trent Reznor let his guard down for a moment to reveal that Joe Walsh was actually his first concert and express what an honor it was to be there that night (during his closing solo set, Walsh would say “Well, that was the first Nine Inch Nails concert I’ve ever been to…I liked it. It kinda reminded me of being in the Northridge earthquake in California…”).

Finally, the time came for the man of the hour to finish out the marathon concert with a truncated solo set. Grohl re-emerged, axe in hand, for a penultimate take on “Life’s Been Good”, the layered guitars giving the Foo Fighters bandleader and Walsh a chance for a meaningful back-and-forth.

The crescendo of the evening then arrived as the musicians onstage made room for The Breeders and Joe’s six-year-old godson Roy Orbison III. Together, they shredded the bluesy “Rocky Mountain Way”, with Orbison playing alongside his godfather during the iconic talk box solo. Grohl took a backseat on the drum set, as Walsh tapped the next generation to help light the way on the fiery finale.

Throughout the performance, Walsh repeatedly said, “This will never happen again.” Whether he was referring to the all-star, all-Ohio caliber of musicians, the special presence of Grohl, or simply the unifying nature of the concert, let’s all hope this isn’t “One Last Ride” for VetsAid.

Check out image galleries from VetsAid courtesy of Ron Valle as well as full setlists and fan-shot videos.

The Breeders, Dave Grohl – “Cannonball Gigantic” (Pixies) – 11/13/22

[Video: mdshav]

James Gang – “Walk Away” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

James Gang, Dave Grohl – “Funk #49” – 11/13/22

[Video: backyarDJam]

The Black Keys – “Tighten Up” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

The Black Keys – “Your Touch” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

The Black Keys – “Gold on the Ceiling” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

The Black Keys – “Lonely Boy” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

Nine Inch Nails – “Hurt” – 11/13/22

[Video: SonicXXtreme]

Joe Walsh – “Turn to Stone” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl – “Life’s Been Good” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl, The Breeders, Roy Orbison III – “Rocky Mountain Way” – 11/13/22

[Video: Shawn Belles]

View Videos

Setlist: The Breeders | VetsAid | Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH | 11/13/22

Set: No Aloha, Saints, Shocker in Gloomtown (Guided by Voices), Invisible Man, Wait in the Car, Hag, Iris, Drivin’ on 9 (Ed’s Redeeming Qualities), Divine Hammer, Walking With a Killer, Do You Love Me Now?, Off You, Cannonball Gigantic (Pixies) [1]

Setlist: James Gang | VetsAid | Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH | 11/13/22

Set: Stop (Howard Tate), You’re Gonna Need Me (Albert King), Tend My Garden, Asshtonpark, Walk Away, Midnight Man, Collage, The Bomber: Closet Queen/ Bolero/ Cast Your Fate to the Wind, Funk #49 [1]

Setlist: The Black Keys | VetsAid | Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH | 11/13/22

Set: Howlin’ for You, Fever, Tighten Up, Your Touch, Gold on the Ceiling, Lo/Hi, Next Girl, Wild Child, Little Black Submarines, Lonely Boy

Setlist: Nine Inch Nails | VetsAid | Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH | 11/13/22

Set: Wish, March of the Pigs, Piggy, The Lovers, Less Than, Heresy, The Perfect Drug, The Hand That Feeds, Head Like a Hole, Hurt

Setlist: Joe Walsh | VetsAid | Nationwide Arena | Columbus, OH | 11/13/22

Set: In the City, Turn to Stone, Life’s Been Good [1], Rocky Mountain Way [1]

[1] w/ Dave Grohl

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