Joe Walsh Slays the Tacoma Dome, Backed by Some Band Called The Eagles
Last night’s Eagles concert at the Tacoma Dome began rather peculiarly, with just Don Henley and Glenn Frey taking the stage and picking out a pair of acoustic ditties, including “Saturday Night.” As the band’s undisputed leaders would quickly explain, their lack of accompaniment was on account of the chronological approach they’d be taking to the evening’s proceedings, a three-hour-long homage to the comprehensive Showtime rockumentary, The History of the Eagles.
In the beginning, there were but Henley and Frey, soon to be joined by ex-Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon, who joined the pair for “Train Leaves Here This Morning.” Quietly, before “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” Timothy B. Schmit made it a foursome, to measured applause.
Then, prior to a funked-up version of “Witchy Woman,” Joe Walsh crept out and sat on an amp, guitar in hand. The crowd went berserk, as though all that preceded that moment was a mere warmup for a Joe Walsh show. And, wouldn’t you know, Henley and Frey — neither short of ego — stood down and let it happen.
To understand Tacoma’s horny embrace of Walsh, one must first understand Tacoma. Located 30 miles south of Seattle on Interstate 5, it is to the Emerald City as Oakland is to San Francisco — minus the predictions that it will soon become the next Brooklyn. With a bustling indsustrial seaport and little else, Tacoma is decidedly blue collar. It’s a city that likes an underdog, exponentially so if said underdog is a reformed hard liver who’s stared down the barrel of an epic booze and drug addiction and somehow emerged reasonably intact. That’s Walsh, and last night he got served up in a gargantuan portion.
Despite the show’s cheesy setup — interspersed with video intros and karaoke-caliber mini-films that were no doubt Miami Vice alum Frey’s idea — the “history” structure worked, allowing for far more deep cuts (several off Desperado, including the original version of the title track) than you’d expect at an Eagles show at this phase of the band’s career. The band smartly tended toward its ‘70s output, allowing only a few stinkers, like “Those Shoes” and “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” to seep in.
But mainly what they allowed for — especially during the second set, when the walk through memory lane approach was scrapped—was a whole lot of Walsh. The goofy guitarist took center stage for “Pretty Maids All in a Row,” “In the City,” “Funk #49,” “Life’s Been Good,” and — during the encore, no less — “Rocky Mountain Way.” Frey, who introduced Walsh as “a graduate of the Keith Moon school of room trash” and then intentionally demurred during a WWE-like battle of guitar licks, afforded himself no such indulgences outside the band’s oeuvre, nor did Henley. There were neither Smugglers of Blues nor Boys of Summer last night in Tacoma. Last night was for Joe, and Joe alone.
Eagles at the Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, WA – August 26, 2014)