The Eagles fly high in Vancouver with boosts from Bernie and Joe



The concert the Eagles put on at Rogers Arena last night was way more enjoyable than the one they played at the hockey rink three years ago as part of the Long Road Out of Eden Tour.

For one thing, this time around the setlist wasn’t bogged down with throwaway tunes from the 2007 Long Road Out of Eden double album.

For another thing, the current History of the Eagles tour includes appearances on several numbers by original member Bernie Leadon, who played a big part in their early success, having cowritten “Witchy Woman” and played lead guitar on “Take It Easy”, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, and “Tequila Sunrise”.

And thirdly, it never hurts when lovable guitar hero Joe Walsh is in top form.

The show kicked off with just Don Henley and Glenn Frey dueting on vocals and acoustic guitars on the mellow “Saturday Night” before they called Leadon out to sing lead on “Train Leaves Here This Morning”, a song he cowrote with the Byrds’ Gene Clark for the Eagles’ self-titled 1972 debut album.

The next tune, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, saw the arrival of bassist-vocalist Timothy B. Schmit, and then for a funkified version of “Witchy Woman” Walsh joined the fray.

With all five guys lined up and singing away there was no shortage of great harmonies; when Leadon left the stage after a few more songs his vocal spot was filled by ace touring guitarist Steuart Smith, who was hired by the group in 2001 after Don Felder was fired.

Since Felder has fought legal battles with Henley and Frey since being sacked he wasn’t invited back for the History tour. Original bassist-vocalist Randy Meisner was, but couldn’t take part because of health issues. Frey wished him the best before the band played the 1975 Meisner had written and sung, “Take It to the Limit”.

After 10 songs–all taken from their first four studio albums–the Eagles took a break, and when they returned Walsh comandeered the mike to croon “Pretty Maids All in a Row”, a ballad he wrote with drummer Joe Vitale for the band’s fifth (and most successful) disc, Hotel California. Set 2 also featured five songs from the ’79 album The Long Run, running the gamut from the mediocre (“Heartache Tonight”) to the gorgeous (“I Can’t Tell You Why”).

No one bothered to explain why the standout track “King of Hollywood” didn’t make the setlist.

The song from The Long Run that got the biggest audience response was the Walsh-written and -sung “In the City”, which was originally recorded for the soundtrack to director Walter Hill’s amazing 1979 street-gang flick The Warriors. Walsh continued to rule the night with his tongue-in-cheek ’78 solo smash “Life’s Been Good” and the rifftastic “Funk #49”, the 1970 hit by his first band of note, the James Gang.

And everyone seemed to enjoy the goofy video of him in a Godzilla suit destroying a city before playing air-guitar in the rubble.

After Walsh had stolen the crowd’s heart neither Henley nor Frey could quite win it back with their respective encore performances of “Hotel California” and “Take It Easy”.

Who says nice guys finish last?

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