The Eagles leave Vancouver fans with an uneasy feeling



In my favourite movie of all time, The Big Lebowski, the main character—brilliantly played by Jeff Bridges—is a scruffy SoCal slacker named “the Dude” who loves Creedence Clearwater Revival but has no time at all for the Eagles. In fact, he gets yanked from a cab and left stranded on a highway after pleading with the driver to switch stations from one playing “Peaceful Easy Feeling”.

Now, I agree with the Dude that Creedence rules—that goes without saying—but never quite understood his hate-on for “the fucking Eagles”. As far as multiplatinum rock groups from the ’70s go, they’ve never grated on me as much as Supertramp or Styx. But after sitting through their three-hour-plus concert Sunday night (May 9)—the first of three Vancouver shows this week—I could understand how someone like the Dude might grow to despise the band that made Glenn Frey and Don Henley multimillionaires.

Without a doubt, they have some pretty God-awful tunes.

Fortunately, they got most of those out of the way early.

Throwaway numbers like “How Long” and the particularly vacuous “Busy Being Fabulous”—both off the band’s 2007 double album, Long Road Out of Eden—got the show off to a slow start. And then it was time for the tune that Eagles mockers love to hate, “Hotel California”. Although I’ve heard that song so many times that its opening chords make me want to flee in terror, by the time it gets to the duelling guitar solos I’m lapping it up. Long-time Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh shared the string-bending on that song and several others with Steuart Smith, a formidable picker who’s been touring with the band since taking Don Felder’s place in 2001.

When the Eagles weren’t rolling out their dusty group hits, from the mediocre (“Heartache Tonight”) to the exemplary (“Life in the Fast Lane”), its members revisited their solo careers. Don Henley got to do his mid-’80s smash “Boys of Summer”, and Joe Walsh performed his playful late-’70s theme song, “Life’s Been Good”. During Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” the huge video screens flanking the stage flashed lowbrow footage from trash TV programs like Maury, The Jerry Springer Show, and The O’Reilly Factor.

Frey assumed the role of the self-effacing joker throughout the night, noting that the aging Eagles were now on their Assisted Living Tour and that he hails from the blue-collar burbs of Detroit, “where mother is half a word”. The unsmiling Henley, on the other hand, still seems to take himself a tad too seriously, steadfastly refusing to take Mojo Nixon’s ancient advice to “loosen up that ponytail”.

For their three-song encore the Eagles offered the obligatory “Take It Easy”, followed by Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way”—the only song with a chord progression more boring than the one on “Cocaine”—and ended on a sappy note with the overwrought “Desperado”, which had me striding purposefully for the exit doors. I’ll bet you cab fare to L.A. the Dude doesn’t care much for that one either.

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