The opportunity to see The Eagles fell into our laps the other day. Veronica, a huge fan who had never seen them live, was chomping at the bit.
I, however, was skeptical. Having seen The Eagles in their heyday, during the 1976 Hotel California tour, I didnt want to spoil that memory.
Sure, the stranger on the ferry boat who just saw them the previous night
said they were still great, but he was just a stranger on a ferry across the Mississippi. I also have several musically knowledgeable friends who have seen the band recently and fully agree with ferry boat guy, so I allowed myself to start a bit of bit chomping as we drove closer to the arena.
Once inside, the first thing that struck me was the crowd. This wasnt a 70s rock concert crowd. Oh wait, yes it was — just 30 years older. Middle aged and middle class, I guess we all grew up and now we can afford the hundred dollar tickets. If I remember right, it was around fifteen bucks back when I saw them the first time.
The band took the stage, all in suits and ties, ala Buddy Holly.
What happened to the torn up blue jeans and tee shirts? Well, at least Joe Walsh and Timothy Schmit still have long hair, even if Walsh looks a bit like what if Nixon had long gray hair. Overall, they still look cool, just different cool, and at least there aren’t any bald Eagles.
About halfway through the first song I started using my ears instead of my eyes and realized Man, these guys still sing great! They are fully aware of the changes the years have brought and embrace them. They humorously acknowledged the passing time right off the bat, with Glenn Frey introducing themselves as The ancient ones, the band that wouldnt die on The Assisted Living Tour. This is not a nostalgia tour, its rock and roll grown-up style.
This is a very different Eagles than the ones I grew up with. A four piece horn section and two extra keyboard players, Will Hollis and Michael Thompson, makes this more like a review than a country rock group. They also have another drummer, Scott Crago, allowing Don Henley to step in front of the kit for a good part of the show, although he spends a good bit of time on both percussion and drums.
Nobody plays the straight country rock beat any better than Henley, and he does it while singing. The group is rounded out with guitarist Steuart Smith playing Don Felder and Bernie Leadons old parts impeccably. He is pretty much a real member of the band these days, writing and co-produced on The Long Road Out of Eden album.
The mix of the old stuff with the new, plus tunes from their solo careers, is very smooth and presented with impeccable performances and sound production. The staging was cool, not overbearing, and did not distract from the music.
The guys may be older but they sure arent worn out. The show goes over three hours, with a short intermission. It was during this intermission that Veronica overhead perhaps the best line of the night. An appalled security guard remarked as she removed women from the mens room that she expected that kind of behavior from last weeks Nickelback crowd but not from Eagles fans! Who knew? There were two women in the men’s room when I went too. Rock-n-Roll.
After the break it occurred to me, why should it seem strange or out of place for Rock acts to keep touring into their golden years? No one thinks it the least bit odd when Blues, Jazz or Classical acts keep performing well into their 70’s or 80’s. I think it just goes to show you that Rock & Roll has now become an enduring art form and truly will live forever.
David & Veronica,