Published on theMusic.com.au, Feb 2015
Not being allowed to take photos or videos at a gig isn’t anything new, but security issuing personal warnings to every single ticket holder as they entered, with a warning of being thrown out if caught, posed an interesting turn of events.
No doubt they had great success policing such laws.
There has been numerous line-up changes in the Eagles, but with founding members and primary songwriters Don Henley and Glenn Frey at the helm of a ten-strong band, there was no questioning the merit of the line-up on tour or what quality to expect. With the tour titled after the band’s 2013 documentary, History Of The Eagles, Henley and Frey appeared from opposite ends of the stage under spotlights, both yielding acoustic guitars to a roof-lifting cheers.
One acoustic guitar and quaint vocals broke the roar like only Saturday Night could, and after learning it was the only song written by the original line-up, Henley took to the mic and began to school the audience on what the summer of ‘71 meant for the band. The story led to how they met founding guitarist Bernie Leadon, who then joined them on stage to sing Train Leaves Here This Morning.
The opening tracks might not have been the most memorable out of the band’s catalogue, but they were integral to their history. Henley turned his guitar into a percussive instrument, bassist Timothy B Schmit appeared, and with four-part harmonies and a bit more punch, Peaceful Easy Feeling gave punters the first taste of the band’s classic California rock sound.
Henley continued his beat making, transitioning to the drums, and four grew to five with guitarist Joe Walsh joining them for a reinvented Witchy Woman.
The live show reflected the documentary, with cuts to interviews on the screen behind them, and when they’d said all they could with a toned-back production, a black curtain behind the band lifted to reveal an epic stage plot that projected the themes of gunfighter-themed On The Border And One Of These Nights, and the intimate vibe was transformed into a setting for big, classic, stadium rock.
The true extent of Henley’s soaring vocals was unleashed in hit Desperado, and their rock era was given an epic stage presence with four electric guitars for I’m Already Gone. There was layer upon layer of guitar parts and harmonies in songs Lyin’ Eyes, and disco-esque One Of These Nights, but every element had its place and nothing was overkill.
Soulful numbers I Can’t Tell You Why and Love Will Keep Us Alive saw vocals from Schmit, and alongside rocker numbers like In The City painted a comprehensive picture of the band’s extensive back catalogue and legacy. Highlights in the show’s second half included a Beach Boys-inspired version of Heartache Tonight and other hits, but with Leadon disappearing, less diversity in the songs delivered and next to no stories into the band’s history, the show dragged on. By the time Hotel California rolled around that no longer mattered, and everyone had been schooled in the importance of a well-written harmony, catchy hook and the longevity of classic rock. Eagles’ triumphant return to Australia will be a history lesson not soon forgotten.