The Eagles performing their History Of The Eagles Tour at the LG Arena Birmingham on Wednesday 28th May 2014.
After recently going to concerts where there was a flying car, an alien space craft, an animatronic horse and buckets full of confetti and streamers, the Eagles had little need for glam and glitter as the two leaders; Don Henley and Glenn Frey wandered out from opposite sides of the stage to a warm and emotional ovation. Wielding acoustic guitars, they kicked off this show, which turned into a sprawling 3 hour tour of the Eagles’ history and music. It was clear from the outset that this was going to be less of a concert and more like an intimate evening, whilst they sat chilling out on their amp cases strumming to the melancholic track of the opener, Saturday Night.
After a beautiful Train Leaves Here This Morning, the two band leaders were joined by bassist Timothy Schmit, founding guitarist Bernie Leadon and guitar hero, Joe Walsh. They then treated this eager audience to Peaceful Easy Feeling, a new arrangement of Witchy Woman which sounded fresh but still familiar, and the infamous, Doolin-Dalton. Presenting these songs in an almost campfire style, was an incredibly effective way of reminding people just how important the Eagles were to the sound of Southern California in the 1970’s.
With the black back drop falling ceremoniously to the ground, the stage was lit up with a bank of LED screens which throughout presented plenty of Californian imagery. The sets pace was dictated by the 2013 documentary ‘History Of The Eagles’, with the first part of the concert being partly acoustic, as they worked through their early albums, whilst the odd video explained the origin of the tracks. Eventually the electric guitars were introduced together with the full band and the whole stage was revealed with a full complement of backing musicians.
They closed the first set with classics like Lyin’ Eyes which had the audience rippling with laughter when Frey dedicated it to his first wife who he referred to as ‘the plaintiff’, One Of These Nights and Take It To The Limit which were all performed just as they had been on record originally, but with enough spontaneous soul so that nothing ever seemed like it was being phoned in.
In the second half, the tempo really went up a notch, as it focused on the latter part of the Eagles’ history. This included a lot of Walsh, who brought an electric edge and suitcase full of style to the band. Still youthful and energetic, with shoulder length platinum rock star hair, Walsh momentarily stole the show as he proved to be an effective balladeer on Pretty Maids All In A Row, before handing the baton to Schmit who delivered an angelic I Can’t Tell You Why and his tender rendition of Love Will Keep Us Alive. After Heartache Tonight and Those Shoes, Walsh displayed his awesome skills with a guitar as he really came into his own with In The City. He then put on a hat with a video camera that pointed where he looked and the video feed appeared on the big screens to the side of the stage; giving fans their fifteen minutes of fame whilst jamming his own song, Life’s Been Good. Walsh and Frey then duelled guitars, with one matching the others riff until Walsh broke off into a solo that flowed into a rendition of Funk # 49, a James Gang song.
Finishing this part of the show with Life In The Fast Lane, it was clear that these were the consummate professionals. Throughout, Henley’s voice remained majestic with its velvety rasp; Walsh’s guitar work was edgy and inventive and the vocal harmonies were actually sublime.
For the encore, the crowd finally got to their feet and swayed as the Eagles played Hotel California, and a crisp play of Take It Easy. This was followed by a long rendition of Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way, as he again showed off his guitar mastery.
Finishing the concert with a soothing play of Desperado, this audience was both satisfied and exhausted by the Eagles journey. The night had proved to be a musical and emotional roller coaster for both band and fans, allowing their adoring audience to get lost in pure nostalgia and brilliant music. The Eagles reminded the crowd why they have remained such a venerable part of music’s fabric over the years. Tonight, with an arena full of fans who grew up with them, the Eagles long and satisfying career could so easily go on forever.
With not a single inflatable in sight, the Eagles had brought their show right back down to earth with the true meaning of rock ‘n’ roll.