I was tempted to go to that Eagles concert, especially after having watched a fascinating documentary on them on Showtime recently. How was the show?
As for the renovated MSG, I thought I had heard there are some obstructed-view seats somewhere in the upper level. I don't know whether or not that's true.
The Eagles were always known more for being a technical concert band in their heyday, more worried about delivering note-perfect performances than spontaneous ones. When you go see an Eagles show, you're going to hear the songs as they pretty much sound on the albums. To their credit, even though all of the remaining Eagles are in their mid-60s, they're still pretty capable of hitting all the harmonies and the notes. They are smart (the Eagles, especially Don Henley and Glenn Frey, have always been savvy businessmen, almost CEO-like in their approach from Day 1) and know their limitations, so they have extra musicians on stage to help flesh out their vocals and sound. I have to admit, there wasn't one single cringe moment where I thought "Oh man, that was painful".
On the songs where Don Henley played drums (they had a second drummer/percussionist who would handle the "heavy lifting" tunes), the drum track was often subtley stripped down from the original, and made simpler to play. Surprisingly, this didn't hurt the quality of the songs at all, and in some cases (like Witchy Woman), actually gave some songs a bit of more of a driving, straight ahead feel. As far as the playlist went, it was everything you'd expect to hear...the only song that didn't make the cut was "Wasted Time" (though leading into the second act, the instrumental, strings-heavy Wasted Time reprise was played over the speakers). In the first act, the Eagles started with the mellower, country-rock stuff from their early days (Bernie Leadon, who was invited to perform on this tour, was on stage for this part of the show), then worked into the more rock-n-roll portion of their career. The first act had both Henley and Frey sharing anecdotes about the band's history and their days playing in Linda Ronstadt's backing band before breaking off to form the Eagles. These moments were interesting (though if you saw the documentary, you were familiar with them already...later in the show, instead of Henley and/or Frey relating these moments live, clips from the doc were played on the big screen), but just like everything else involving the Eagles, they had an almost over-rehearsed feeling to them. OK, I tell a story. I make a joke. I wait for the laughter from the joke to die down. I continue. Though it's always interesting to hear stories from the guys who lived the life, it becomes obvious pretty quickly that every word is scripted.
Joe Walsh is the guy who really brings excitement and vigor to the show, without question. Everyone else is technically terrific, but when they're not sitting, they're pretty much standing in place and singing and playing their instruments...as good as they sound, there's a very robotic aura to their performances. Walsh plays and acts like he's not only at least 20 years younger than his bandmates, but really seems to be having flat-out FUN...this guy was born to do what he does. The rest of the Eagles are all business. Walsh got the most applause and kicked it up several notches every time the spotlight was on him. The Eagles performed quite a bit of Joe's solo/previous band material (Funk #49, Rocky Mountain Way, Life's Been Good, among others) and I think some of these songs got more reaction out of the crowd than the Eagles' own material did. None of Henley's or Frey's solo material was covered (a very good thing in Frey's case, as his VERY era-specific 80s content has not aged well at all, compared to Henley's).
Stuart Smith does a credible job channeling Don Felder, but he sounds like a guy doing a very good imitation of Don Felder. I think the Eagles suffered a bit by not having the real deal on stage with them. Joe Walsh's presence helps the on-stage product immensely (if he was not there, the show would've been almost sleep-inducing), but Frey himself admitted, in multiple interviews, that the Eagles were at their peak when both Felder and Walsh were in the band. It would be great if Felder, Henley and Frey could somehow resolve their differences, but it's clear that that's extremely unlikely to happen. Frey sang "Take It to the Limit" in Randy Meisner's absence (health issues wouldn't allow him to perform...like Leadon, he was also invited back to perform on this tour), and mentioned that Meisner couldn't be there to sing the song himself, but said he and the rest of his bandmates still love him and wish him the best. Felder didn't get so much as a mention, as though he never existed at all, which I found kind of sad in a way. More than a few attendees around me mentioned that they wished Felder was still with the band, that as strong as the rest of the band sounded, that something was missing. I agree.
I was never a huge Eagles fan back in the day (my dad played Hotel California on vinyl constantly when it first came out, back when I was 6 years old), but between my dad and the constant radio airplay they've gotten through the years, I've always been extremely familiar with their catalog. Based on what I knew of them (from the Showtime doc and things I've heard), they were exactly what I expected them to be. Hardcore Eagles fans might be disappointed that Felder isn't part of this, but since he hasn't been in the band since 2001, you kind of know that going in. If I was to rate the show on a scale of 1-to-10, I'd give it an 8. Kind of hard to believe most Eagles fans wouldn't leave the show very satisfied.
Edited by Colorado Rockies 1976, 12 November 2013 - 07:38 AM.