This concert met most of my high expectations but really didn’t exceed any of them.
Scottrade, St. Louis
The 1970s were a fertile and highly creative decade for rock music, to say the least. The list of top-notch, awe-inspiring groups that were spawned during that time period is practically endless. Their musical contributions shaped and defined an entire generation of teenagers and young adults, many of which are still loyal and devoted fans of that genre today.
It’s not surprising that a band such as The Eagles can still, many years after their mega-hit-creating heyday, fill up 20,000 seat arenas across the country with no difficulty, even with the higher half of the four ticket prices being in the three figures. This is because an evening spent listening to The Eagles play is seen by many as more than a concert; it’s a special event — one worthy of spending a hefty portion of weekly income on. This is the type of show that people who only see one concert a year attend.
Experiencing a bit of a recent resurgence in popularity due to The History of The Eagles documentary that was aired on the Showtime network and was released on DVD this past spring, the band couldn’t have picked a better time to hit the road and name this tour, appropriately enough, “The History of the Eagles.” The song selection, which has been 100 percent identical during each and every show, including its order, consists of 28 songs (including encores) that are played in chronological order of their release date, excluding the solo material of Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt. Although this was a clever premise for the tour, it seems that even without altering the chronological structure, there would have been plenty of room for the song selection to have been a bit more varied between shows, considering the vast amount of material this band has under its belt.
That being said, for those audience members who came expecting to hear all of the hits, which I would guess to be most everyone, the band did churn out pretty much every single song of theirs that has ever received at a least a decent amount of airplay over their 40 year career (except the noticeably absent “7 Bridges Road”), performing each song almost exactly note for note to its studio version. Despite this lack of performance improvisation, the anywhere from four to nine piece band — depending on the song — did create and maintain a good variation in pace and tone throughout the just under three hour show.
First set ballads like “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Best of My Love,” and “Tequila Sunrise” were balanced out by faster, slightly more rocking tunes like “Witchy Woman” and “One of These Nights.” Set two began on a somewhat cheesy note with a back-to-back delivery of “I Can’t Tell You Why,” “New Kid in Town,” and what is probably played at way too many weddings as the bride and groom’s first dance as a married couple song, “Love Will Keep Us Alive.” The set’s second half redeemed itself nicely though, partially, if not mostly, due to the focus being shifted to the always amazing Joe Walsh. His virtuoso playing of a glittery bronze Stratocaster led the rest of the band throughout kick-ass versions of “In the City,” “Life’s Been Good,” and the James Gang classic “Funk #49,” a trio of rockers that got much of the previously-seated crowd up on their feet.
Visually speaking, the show’s multi-vertical panel backdrop was utilized tastefully. During much of the show, various landscape scenery was displayed; from a beautiful desert sunrise during “Tequila Sunrise,” to nightlife images during “In the City,” to the Colorado Rockies during one the show’s four encore songs, “Rocky Mountain Way.” Entire Eagles music videos were shown during a few songs, bringing back memories of MTV’s early days.
Talking between songs was kept to a minimum and consisted primarily of the Eagles’ two core members Glenn Frey and Don Henley sharing old memories, both serious and comical in nature and making sarcastic remarks about their age. Frey dedicated “Take it to the Limit” to Randy Meisner, an original member of the band who has been experiencing some poor health issues as of late. It’s hard to say whether or not the between-song comments were as carbon-copied from show to show as the set lists are.
Kudos should be given to the production and technical crews, who — thanks to the state-of-the-art sound equipment that The Eagles are financially privileged enough to have in their entourage — enabled the songs to have a pristine crispness that I’ve never noticed before at any of the six or seven concerts that I’ve seen at this arena.
All in all, this concert met most of my high expectations but really didn’t exceed any of them. On a scale from one to 10, I’d give this show an eight, deducting those two points primarily for the lack of spontaneity and improvisation — two qualities that would have easily and effectively transformed what was a great concert into an outstanding one. | Michele Ulsohn
Photos: C. Daniel