ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 20, 2002
By Steve Newton
Boy, I sure took a lotta flack from the hipsters in the Straight’s editorial department for wanting to review the Eagles concert last Wednesday (June 12) at GM Place. “Woo-hoo, ‘Hotel California’!” gibed Mike Usinger, high sheriff of all things musical, before inserting his waxy earphones to revel in the juvenile gangsterisms of Eminem. (I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the timeworn strains of “Hotel California” over Eminem’s latest gonorrhea epic any day.) Other grumblings at the paper revolved around the huge amounts of cash the Eagles were raking in for trotting out their dusty hits, and I had to agree that the $149 these fat cats were asking for prime seats—before Ticketmaster took its own pound of flesh—was ridiculous. But heck, I wasn’t paying, and scoring my Eagles-crazed older sister a free seat in Row 8 was gonna earn me some precious baby-sitting time.
“Welcome to the Eagles’ 30th-anniversary tour,” proclaimed Glenn Frey after a casual rendition of “The Long Run”. “It’s great to be 30 again!” He didn’t look a day over 48, actually, and neither did the other old-timers, but they sure sounded that way when Don Henley stepped to the mike for the sappy “Wasted Time”. Things picked up considerably with “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, when some guitarist who isn’t even an Eagle (Stuart Smith) stole the show with his tasty pedal steel–style licks. Then it was time for another sappy entry, “Pretty Maids All in a Row”, which I enjoyed all the same, thanks to the flamboyant delivery of jokester Joe Walsh, the Eddie Shack of rock. After Henley’s finest solo turn, “Boys of Summer”, Frey dedicated the overblown “Take It to the Limit” to “my first wife, ‘plaintiff’, because that’s what she did with the credit cards”. Dude, can you really blame her? I doubt she married you for “The Heat Is On”.
I almost forgave Frey for that Beverly Hills Cop debacle when he took the lead for my fave Eagles track, “Already Gone”, which was followed by another winner, “One of These Nights”. At that point, one hour into the show, the band took a breather, and when the group returned, the gig turned into a Joe Walsh show. The big-schnozzed ham ventured back to his James Gang days for the breezy 1970 gem “Walk Away”, then wowed the crowd with his comical rock posturings during a lively rendition of the ’78 solo hit “Life’s Been Good”. But the real fun started when he banged out the chunky riffs of the James Gang’s “Funk #49”. Welcome to ’70s guitar-rock heaven. Serious nonrocker Henley even loosened up enough to mess with the cowbell!
When the group was called back for its first encore, it was no surprise that the familiar chords of “Hotel California” drifted off the stage. “This is so beautiful, man!” hollered the excitable guy beside me, holding up his cellphone to broadcast the sound of $149-plus to some freeloading listener. Then things got a little too ’70s, even for me, as Walsh made the mistake of including the plodding “Rocky Mountain Way”. It was nice to hear the trusty talk-box back in action, though. Eat your heart out, Peter Frampton!