The Eagles are one of those bands I thought the opportunity to see might have passed. But the lure of the mighty $ has kept the band on the road, some might argue, well past their ‘best before’.
Certainly some of the broadsheets have not been slow to cast stones, or in some cases house bricks, at the band for their apparent on-stage disconnect – both with each other, and the audience.
And with Fleetwood Mac (complete with out of retirement Christine McVie) about to embark on another globe-trotting marathon, the question has to be ‘when is enough, enough?’
With a good decade behind them since their Farewell Tour, the one thing we can be relatively certain about is that we are unlikely to be able to see these one-time pioneers (or their 1970′s contemporaries) a further decade on. So for many it will genuinely be a case of ‘now or never’.
And on that basis it seemed timely to catch up with a band with one of the most illustrious back catalogues in popular rock. OK, there might not have been any new ‘product’ since Long Road Out Of Eden in 2007 (conspicuous by its absence from the setlist) but there’s still plenty of merchandise to tempt – the recent Collected Works and Studio Albums box sets, and the excellent History Of The Eagles DVD under the banner of which this tour is being promoted.
And the ‘show’ was cleverly built around that story which, until the climatic finale of a very generous 2 hours 45 minute set, was played largely in chronological order and with the history of the band and their recordings narrated by the band members. It may have been a little ‘staged’ at times, but I evidenced none of the reported lack of rapport.
It has to be said though, that the sound wasn’t the best and that was largely down to the cavernous arena where the sound disconcertingly ‘echoed’ off the back wall – particularly on some of the sparser early numbers like ‘Witchy Woman’.
But as the story progressed, and the on stage presence grew progressively to include including Bernie Leadon, Timothy B Schmit, Joe Walsh and a further 5 supporting musicians, the sound became fuller and less of an issue. Similarly, use of the gargantuan stage set was brought into incremental use (although, for an arena design, the use of only 2 side screens for the earlier numbers wasn’t ideal for those seated side-on to the stage).
You certainly couldn’t complain and the length and breadth of the set and you do have to make some allowances for the fact these guys have lived much of their lives in the fast lane. Cruise control at this stage of their careers is as much a matter of survival as necessity.
But collective feet were pressed increasingly towards the metal as the second half of the set weaved its way through ‘Hotel California’, before exploding with ‘Those Shoes’ from the underrated Long Run, ‘Life In The Fast Lane’, and Joe Walsh’s storming ‘Funk #49′ and ‘Rocky Mountain Way’.
It brought the show to a powerful climax and they exited with a brilliant and poignant rendition of ‘Desperado’ the closing thought was that we’ll simply never see their like (and possibly them) again. So for those who claim rigor mortis is beginning to set in, cut these guys some slack – the bodywork may be a little pitted, but they’re still a finely tuned machine.
And finally, a word about the audience. On one side of me I had a guy who seemed to think he was capable of harmonising with Messrs Henley and Frey, and on the other a small wiry terrier of a man who had fists like sledgehammers who introduced himself as Lee, a builder. And did I want a beer?
As the evening concluded, he leaned over and, in a thick beery Scouse, made his feelings about the admittedly conservative audience abundantly clear, pronouncing them ‘a fuckin’ disgrace’. He said to be sure I mentioned it.
Set list: Saturday Night / Train Leaves Here This Morning / Peaceful Easy Feeling / Witchy Woman / Doolin-Dalton / Tequila Sunrise / Doolin’-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise) / Already Gone / The Best Of My Love / Lyin’ Eyes / One Of These Nights / Take It To The Limit / Pretty Maids All In A Row / I Can’t Tell You Why / New Kid In Town / Love Will Keep Us Alive / Heartache Tonight / Those Shoes / In The City / Life’s Been Good / The Long Run / Funk #49 /Life In The Fast Lane / Hotel California / Take It Easy / Rocky Mountain Way /Desperado
Review by Pete Whalley
Photos and Gallery by Steve Goudie
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