And so … the Eagles Live: Their Umpteenth Farewell Concert Tour
So what if all the music journos were broadly critical, so what if the band played by rote and the songs all sounded like the album versions (not quite true), so what if Joe Walsh has played all his solos identically at least a thousand times, so, what if they changed instruments between EVERY song, so what if they made a pretty uninspired attempt at audience repartee (not easy in front of nearly 20,000 people), so what if the videos, and the filmed interviews between songs were a little haphazard, I was absolutely blown away by his concert !– the smart songs, the electrifying guitar breaks honed to perfection, the spine-tingling harmonies undiminished by age, it was all really rather special and it went on for three full hours.
And who cared if everything was played with metronomic precision. The whole point of listening to the Eagles play their songs live is that you want to hear those songs as they were first recorded. Nearly every song was inch perfect and to try to interject some improvised guitar solo (which I am sure they were capable of) was not what people came to hear.
Some highlights – Firstly, I was not expecting to see Bernie Leadon playing with the band (he who left when they started to go all rock n roll). He was brilliant with some great guitar and banjo breaks on the songs from Desperado. Secondly, even though they had three more than proficient lead guitarists in Joe Walsh, Bernie Leadon and Glenn Frey, a lot of the solos, at least in the first half, were taken by guest band member Steuart Smith, who was pretty sensational throughout. Thirdly, the harmonies on some of their songs made the hairs on the head stand up ( I think of Lyin’ Eyes, Take it Easy, and the repeated title line from Desperado). Fourthly, The twin guitar leads from Hotel California were spellbinding – you wouldn’t want to hear THAT guitar break performed in any other way and Steuart Smith (a legendary session lead and rhythm guitarist on many an album) out-Feldered Don Felder here and throughout.
Things I didn’t care for so much? – the constant changing of instruments affected the flow of the evening and the hiatus gave the opportunity for a little light-hearted heckling from the crowd; the lack of spontaneity in the between-song narratives was a bit grating; the failure to continue the chronological narrative of the Eagles (it was after all billed as The History of the Eagles, but that stopped after just a few songs); but mainly, the departure into their more rocking mode which made a sequence of songs like Life in the Fast Lane, Heartache Tonight, These Shoes, and Life’s been good all seem to meld into one another. And I thought the Joe Walsh highlights (great guitarist though he is and he being probably the only one with much stage charisma) were a little self – indulgent. Apart from Life’s been good we were treated to an elongated version of Rocky Mountain Way which didn’t seem to fit with the set.
Nevertheless, I thought this last concert of their 4 night stint at the o2 was a resounding success. The sound was perfect, the harmonies were outrageously good, the playing was brilliant and my lasting memory will probably be the sound of 20,000 fans chanting along with some of those tantalizing choruses which were the hallmark of the Eagles at their best.