Eagles – [Live]

Thursday, 10 June 2010

After nearly 40 years, six Grammy awards, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction and the distinction of having the best-selling album of the century, the Eagles could have easily been just relaxing on some exotic beach since 1979 or so. Instead, the sixty-something Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Glen Frey and Joe Walsh are playing three-hour sing-along fests for their adoring fans. With each member demonstrating that there’s no lack of vocal power, smooth musicianship or enthusiasm, it becomes clear why these legendary rockers have racked up the accolades they have…and may still have yet to come.

From the inspiring opening harmonies of “Seven Bridges Road” the nostalgia was abundant and included songs from Eagles old and new, work from solo projects and vintage favorites from The James Gang. These are the songs that filled the houses of many Baby Boomers, blaring from antiquated stereos with their lovingly cared-for turntables. They are the soundtracks to many long-forgotten family car trips. That’s one of the distinctions of the Eagles—they have been such a ubiquitous part of Americana that their music is steeped in the reminiscence of so many of their fans.

For two nights, audiences of 20,000 at San Jose’s HP Pavilion were treated to instantly recognizable classic rock during what Glen Frey has repeatedly dubbed “The Assisted Living Tour.” In addition to the requisite “Witchy Woman,” “In The City,” “The Long Run,” “Heartache Tonight” and “Take It To the Limit,” the 29-song, two-set-plus-encore evening also included the mellow “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” Henley’s solo hit “Boys Of Summer” as well as solid falsetto vocals by Schmit on “I Can’t Tell You Why” and Henley on “One of These Nights.” Experiencing Walsh and Steuart Smith as they trade guitar licks on the classic “Hotel California” is still one of the top moments in rock music. Being live witness to a Pete Townsend windmill is potentially in the same league.

Other than a melancholy, sepia-toned movie-reel backdrop, there were no gimmicks and little more than a stage filled with exceptional veteran musicians and song after song of memory-evoking hits. Some early issues with the sound distracted from the otherwise stellar production but, by the second act, those squeals were all notched out. Further show highlights included the slide-guitar and horn-embellished “Lyin’ Eyes,” the James Gang era “Funk #49,” a Joe Walsh guitar clinic on “Life in the Fast Lane” and the epic title track from 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden, which shines even in the company of such a hit-saturated performance.

Providing pure entertainment value, Walsh’s antics, signature vocal twang and foley guitar sound effects added kitsch and character to “Life’s Been Good” and a media lampoon of everyone from Tiger Woods, John Edwards and TMZ to Jon and Kate, Obama and Octomom provided a tongue-in-cheek backdrop to accompany “Dirty Laundry.” I don’t want to give too much away but after watching that video, I think that monkey’s case against Walsh is bogus and I have one word for Henley: “methane.”

While “reliable,” “classy” and “low-key” may not be seem like glowing endorsements for most touring musicians, the Eagles also have nostalgia on their side. Not much has changed and that’s probably a good thing. As Henley once said, "We read the story of the tortoise and hare and we decided a long time ago that it would be better to be the tortoise. We're still here. You're still here."


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