Hell froze over. Or at least we have climate change. When the Eagles split in the early 1980s, they said he’ll would freeze over before a reunion. They’ve toured a lot since then. In recent years, the Eagles, or what’s left of the band, have been traveling the globe on their endless tour.
The Hotel California album played in its entirety. The intro before the band took the stage was kind of hokey. I couldn’t figure out the disembodied musical fragments that accompanied a character out of a Charles Dickens story, wearing a long coat and top hat, who walked across the stage and put the Hotel California record album on a turntable and then disappeared. The band began to play, performing side one of the album, almost note for note. To begin the side two songs, a tall blonde in a French cabaret-type costume flipped the album over and put the stylus on the side two. I’m not sure it was necessary or added to the show to have these characters put the album on the turntable, but so be it. There would be other surprises.
The Eagles are now a Don Henley band, rather a corporation run by Henley. With the passing of Glenn Frey several years ago, the band adapted, adding Frey’s son Deacon to sing some his dad’s songs, and country artist Vince Gill, who sings the higher vocals, and adds some guitar muscle, which the guitar-heavy band utilizes effectively. It’s still Henley’s band, the only original member left, and the remaining major stockholder in their corporation (read ex-member Don Felder’s book). Enough of that.
The concert was advertised as the Eagles’ Hotel California 2022 Tour, and not surprisingly, quickly sold out. I bought tickets within the first 15 minutes of when I could get into the “ticket cue,” and paid the most I ever have for a concert, for good, not great, seats. I even bought insurance for the tickets, something I’d never done before, because this world is so unpredictable, I wanted to protect my investment.
Sorry, this is a pretty big windup, but I want to set the mood. The Eagles are rock-royalty, something reserved for a few artists. As we approached the T Mobile Center, the mass of people reminded me of the last time Paul McCartney was in town. Besides the number, there was a buzz in the air, an excitement to this crowd. Many other artists sell out this arena, but the Eagles brought their legacy, the growing-up years for most of this crowd. Our lives are dotted with Eagle songs from the 1970s. It takes only a few bars of “Take it Easy” or “Peaceful Easy Feeling” to transport us back to those carefree, denim and long-haired days.
“Hotel California” – From the opening chords, this song still sizzles. The guitar interplay between Joe Walsh and sideman Steuart Smith is outstanding. Smith takes the Don Felder solos and does them proud.
“New Kid in Town” – I never cared for this popular song, but I admit it sounded good. Vince Gill sings lead and does a great job.
“Life in the Fast Lane” – This is no soft rock band and this song proves it. Still an effective commentary and powerful rocker.
“Wasted Time” – This song was never my favorite, but it shows they can slow it down and not lose any traction. Walsh moved to the keyboard for this song. Using the orchestra helps prove the texture of the recording.
“Wasted Time (Reprise)” – A nice musical reprise from the strings, led by original conductor/arranger Jim Ed Norman.
“Victim of Love” – Just like on the album, the hard, crunchy guitar chords barely give the previous song a chance to end before this hard-edged commentary on shallow/burn-out love among the glossy, pretty social set launches. The images are still accurate, 45 years later. A lovely piece of guitar work.
“Pretty Maids All in a Row” – Joe Walsh’s main songwriting contribution to the album. Still a pensive, moody song.
“Try and Love Again” – Vince Gill sang lead on Randy Meisner’s song. Gill has a higher register, like Meisner, so it worked.
“The Last Resort” – Henley was born to provide social commentary and this song still delivers that warning.
“Seven Bridges Road” – (Steve Young cover) The tight vocal performance shows how well the Eagles harmonize.
“Take It Easy” – Deacon Frey took the stage and sang his father’s lead vocals. He sounds close enough, and his long hair looks a lot like the elder Frey in those early days. Even the country-rock tune have a bite them. Where where you 50 years ago? Winslow, Arizona?
“Peaceful Easy Feeling” – Deacon Frey again. Pretty faithful to the original.
“One of These Nights” – A good, but not great performance. In concert it lacks the power of the recording, especially the intro. The one moment I was very underwhelmed.
“Take It to the Limit” – Gill handles the lead vocals, his voice not quite as soaring as Meisner on the original, but still a great performance.
“Witchy Woman” – The biggest surprise of the concert, the powerful beat anchored this rendition, such different than the recorded version. I didn’t recognize it at first. Truly enjoyable.
“In the City” – This song, written by Walsh and Barry DeVorzon was featured in The Warriors, and also re-recorded for the Eagles’ The Long Run. It’s one of Walsh’s best known songs, but there are much better Walsh songs he could have performed.
“I Can’t Tell You Why” – Timothy B. Schmidt’s lone lead vocal. The best tune the Eagles recorded after Hotel California. For such a wonderful, poignant song, it lacked the thrill of the recording, but was still quite enjoyable. Walsh’s aching guitar solo is on the money.
“Lyin’ Eyes” – A required song. Gill handled the lead. A reminder how smart these lyrics are, a big step above the typical song about infidelity.
“Tequila Sunrise” – A sweet rendition, a crowd pleaser.
“Life’s Been Good” – Walsh’s goofy, signature song. He took the spotlight and did his loopy Joe Walsh character. Difficult to understand? Yes. “How ya doin’?” Having just celebrated his 75th birthday, which he acknowledged, he’s a bit stooped-over, and he sounds like an old man with loose dentures, but he plays the guitar as if he’s still a young dune.
“The Boys of Summer” – From a Don Henley solo album (co-written by Mike Campbell). A very good live version, with video-graphics mirroring the MTV video from back in the day.
“Funk #49” – From Walsh’s James Gang days, the opening riff is unmistakable. This version is a bit looser, rambling, and enjoyable. Walsh and Gill played double lead guitar.
“Heartache Tonight” – A decent version, not one of my favorite Eagles song, but a crowd favorite.
“Rocky Mountain Way” – Another Walsh classic, one again demonstrating how good he was before the Eagles. He wrote incredible guitar-rock.
“Desperado” – Henley delivers on this timeless classic.
“Already Gone” – Deacon Frey returns to handle the lead. Another Jack Tempchin penned tune the Eagles made into a bit. The attitude on this song is what separated the Eagles from other bands. It was fun, edgy and fast.
“Best of My Love” – A rousing singalong and a great cap to a great night.
Yes, the ticket cost was high, but the product was on the stage, for nearly three hours. The Eagles were one of those artists I had never seen and I’m glad that I took what might be my final opportunity. That’s really a personal decision on weighing cost. Most concerts today require that analysis. For fun, I looked up the cost of an Eagles concert ticket from 1974, before the One of These Nights album. The printed price on the ticket: $5.50. Granted, that was a general admission ticket, but for a venue smaller than the one I attended. Expenses are obviously higher today, but the economics of touring is different. Back then, artists earned more of their money from recorded music and publishing. Album sales and royalties from songs played is much less for classic rockers, touring now pays the bills.
In the past decade, the Eagles have been a perpetual tour machine. The tours are well-organized and shows are next to perfect, plus you get nearly three hours of performance.
The last album of original material came out in 2007. Anyone remember the name of any song from that release? I can’t. The songs played at the concert I attended was “Boys of Summer,” a Don Henley solo release. Everything else was released prior to 1981. The fans pay to hear the hits. The Eagles Their Greatest Hits, 1971-1975, has sold 38 million units. This collect did not even feature any songs from Hotel California or The Long Run. Yes, play the hits!
“We toured behind our last album … and put in five to seven of those songs,” said Timothy B. Schmidt. “But we don’t do them anymore because there wasn’t a big reaction. … When people come to see the Eagles, they want to hear ‘Best of My Love,’ ‘One of These Nights,’ all these things. So we give it to them.”
I’m glad they are playing songs from their classic years, with a few solo hits thrown in. One other point. The touring sidemen: Scott Crago, Steuart Smith, Will Hollis and Michael Thompson are quite good.