The Eagles, Time Warner Cable Arena, January 14, 2009

>> Friday, January 16, 2009

To answer those who asked, yes, The Eagles gave a phenomenal show.

My Mom decided to take me to the show, and while I wish she hadn't spent so much on the tickets, I'll give the band credit for giving the audience their money's worth. The show was scheduled for 8:00 PM, which usually means 8:30 for most bands (or sometime after ten if the band is Guns'N'Roses), and The Eagles went onstage at about 8:07 PM or thereabouts and played until around 11:30 PM, with a fifteen or twenty minute break between sets. When one is talking about a band that's been around for thirty-something years, it's almost an un-statement to talk about musicianship--one takes it for granted that The Eagles are going to play well and deliver the harmonies they've been singing for three decades, especially on songs like "Witchy Woman" and "Lyin' Eyes" that they can probably play in their sleep; but, yes, the musicianship was superb and the harmonies beautiful.

More significantly, the band seemed to be having a good time on stage and the energy level was high. And while I'm sure a good chunk of the crowd was there to hear the classics, the band had a new album to promote, Long Road Out of Eden. I don't own a copy, and (frankly) I'm not sure the new songs really measure up to the band's best work of the 1970s, but the thing about a band promoting a new album is that they have more at stake than just flogging the old standards Yet Again; watching a band lifelessly going through a twenty-year-old tune to the cheers of an oblivious Greatest Hits crowd can be not only a little dull but extremely depressing. Not that every reunion tour is like that, mind you--I've seen Springsteen out on tour just for the sake of being out on tour, and he set fire to the stage--but it's an easy trap for a band, and if I wasn't completely blown away by The Eagles' new songs, I'm still glad they had them and were playing them and using them to bookend and breathe life into their back catalogue.

Although the presence of the back catalogue was also pretty interesting: the biggest surprise for me, personally, was that the band dipped into Don Henley's and Joe Walsh's solo catalogues (if there were any cuts from Glenn Frey's or Timothy Schmit's back pages, they weren't songs I recognized and I mistook them for new tracks from Eden or unfamiliar tracks from The Eagles' catalogue). The first foray into the solo catalogue was an accelerated version of Henley's "Boys Of Summer," which I frankly assumed they sped through as some kind of ego-thing, presumably Henley being a prima donna and the rest of the band going along to shut him up; but then the band began covering old solo Walsh tracks and really laying into them and doing them justice, and the second set featured a blistering, paint-peeling rendition of Henley's "Dirty Laundry" along with a handful of additional Walsh tracks--at which point it was pretty clear the faster take on "Summer" (which worked artistically, by the way; it was just a noticeable change) was a deliberate choice and the band members were enjoying playing each others' songs. Always a good thing.

After all, The Eagles fourteen-year "hiatus" wasn't a "hiatus" at the time--it was a break-up with everybody going solo and some public bitterness (tho' it never rose to the level, say, of The Beatles' disintegration, much less the insults, recrimination and lawsuits of Pink Floyd's divorce from Roger Waters). When the band reunited in '94 for Hell Freezes Over, the in-joke of the title was that Don Henley had once been asked in an interview when the band might reunite and that was his answer. If any bad blood lingers, you wouldn't have known it Wednesday night, and the band attacked their setlist with equal zeal whether they were playing somebody's solo number or something brand new or a song released in 1972.

A confession I have to make, speaking of the solo catalogue, is that I think I've underestimated and undervalued Joe Walsh for a very long time. It might frankly be that familiarity bred some level of mild contempt, though "contempt" implies a strength of feeling that wasn't there--I haven't heard any Joe Walsh in years and hadn't had any reason to really think of him at all, but his music was in the background throughout much of my childhood and was just sort of there as something easily recognized but so ubiquitous it's just as easily forgotten. (Like air, you know? It's awesome stuff, but you don't tend to notice it most of the time.) Walsh's material really was a high point of the show for me, personally, not because I expected it or wanted it but because when it came I quickly wanted more. The best way to put it might be to say that the man really kicked ass.

It was a damn good show, anyway, and I had a good time. The band didn't just play well, they had a good time and were engaged and on, and I hope they really were having fun the other night and have a great tour for the rest of their schedule. And thanks, Mom, for taking me.


5 comments:

vince Friday, January 16, 2009 at 11:18:00 AM EST  

I'm glad it was such a great show. I remain green, even though it's not easy being green :-).

I'm going to date myself here, but I first got into Joe Walsh when he was with The James Gang. If you get a chance, listen to some of their better songs like "Walk Away", "Ashes, the Rain and I", and "Funk #49". All of the albums when Walsh was with them are on CD. The Live in Concert CD really lets Walsh show offespecially on the extended take of the Yardbird's "Lost Woman."

Tom Friday, January 16, 2009 at 12:13:00 PM EST  

Damn, Eric, you make me wish I was there! And even though I love the Eagles, I'm not much of a concert goer. Great writeup, thanks.

I second Vince on The James Gang. That stuff is deep in my DNA, too. Just thinking of the band put me in mind of a very rare movie where The James Gang playing was a major part of minor scenes. The movie was "Zachariah" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068011/), and billed as "the first Electric Western." It also featured Country Joe and the Fish, and was one of Don Johnson's first films.

Jeri Friday, January 16, 2009 at 3:23:00 PM EST  

I'm glad it was such a great show.

And I was wrong. It's Glenn Frey's guitar I appreciate... although Walsh's adds to the mix.

Why in the HECK are they not touring west of the Mississippi? Except for a single visit to Utah, of all places? Do they have something against us west coast folks, or a phobia of pacific time?

Eric Friday, January 16, 2009 at 3:55:00 PM EST  

Keep an eye out: they may announce more dates as they go along. I know The Boss has done that in the past. It does seem weird that they wouldn't play the West considering they're a SoCal band with members from the other side of the Miss (e.g. Henley's originally a Texan).

Tania Friday, January 16, 2009 at 9:44:00 PM EST  

I have an odd affection for Joe Walsh. Sounds like a great time. Sigh... :)

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