Sears Center, Hoffman Estates, IL
So tonight, I attended my first rock concert in a decade. I used to an old pro at writing reviews on the shows I've seen. But with age, responsibilities and health issues slowing me down, It was nice to be able to see and hear live music again.
This was actually the third time I've been fortunate to see The Eagles live. The first time was in 1979 in San Francisco, but the second time wasn't until the Hell Freezes Over tour in 1994. All three shows were vastly different from each other, however. In 1979, the were a current hit making group, fresh off their multi-platinum album The Long Run. They were at the height of their success. In '94, they finally reunited after 14 years apart and even though Glenn Frey and Don Henley both had tremendous success as 80's solo artists, the concert was a reunion show - featuring their old hits.
This time, the band merged the two earlier shows. While there was no lack of the songs that made them famous, they also spent a lot of time on songs from their latest recording Long Road Out Of Eden.
The first thing that struck me - almost immediately after they opened up with "Hotel California" - was how much older they all looked. Granted, they are all in their early 60's, but they absolutely looked every bit that age. I guess when you hear songs from when you were young, you tend to forget that the singers age as well.
The next song was "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" and like the song before it, the band was sharp and fluid. However, whether it was an issue with the sound mixer, or something else, the beginning of the first few songs seemed to start rough. It felt like they were just not that into putting together a professional show and just wanted to get through it quickly.
What also surprised me was the fact that after just seven songs, the band took intermission. When I saw them in '94, they played 25 songs straight over 3 hours. But as they are getting older, I assumed they were just really going through the motions and would do a short - maybe 14 song performance.
The highlight of the first half was clearly Joe Walsh, who performed a very spirited "In the City," to a thunderous reaction.
The second half started with the band sitting together performing a few songs from their latest CD. The first song was "No More Walks in the Wood" which is an a cappella song sung with beautiful harmonies. I was surprised and truly gratified that the next song they sang (also from Long Road Out Of Eden) was "Waiting in the Weeds" - which is clearly my favorite song from the album. While they did throw in the Joe Walsh classic "Walk Away," the spent the next 30 minutes on new material from that album.
After a sweet, if unforgettable, "Love Will Keep Us Alive" (although Timothy B. Schmitt's voice has never sounded better), the band came alive and started to finally get the crowd on their feet. But it was Joe Walsh again who brought down the house with his great solo smash "Life's Been Good." In fact, unlike the previous shows, Walsh played a major role tonight, leading the vocals on 5 songs. Schmitt had only two and the rest were divided up between Henley and Frey.
They closed the show (before the encore) with "Heartache Tonight" and "Life in the Fast Lane." Both strayed very close to the originals. After a short break, they returned first with "Take it Easy," which I had remembered to be their last encore in both previous shows, and then surprisingly with Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way." They then said goodbye with Henley's beautiful ballad, "Desporado."
While I enjoyed the music very much, I felt that they spent too much time on lesser known songs from Eden. If the album came out this year, I could understand choosing to go that route. But I find it unlikely that the people who attended tonight would be motivated to buy the album (most probably have bought it already). While they are officially touring in support of the album, the crowd clearly came out to see the band they remember from the old days.
I was disappointed that they sacrificed tracks from their first 5 albums (they only performed two songs from Hotel California and instead focused on Joe Walsh's solo career (no matter that he was outstanding). I know from the crowd around me, they wanted to dance and sing the oldies and for many of them, they spent way too much time sitting down.
But like the previous shows, the band sounded sharp and at times, humorous. Walsh always seems to be the life of the party and Frey's comment that the proceeds to his music goes to someone named "plaintiff" (divorce humor) went over very well with the crowd.
It was a fun night and while I certainly have an issue with $110 seats, this band was worth it.