Classic East: The Eagles, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers At Citi Field, Saturday, July 29th, 2017, Reviewed
The Eagles have one great album, the blue Greatest hits, and a handful of other songs, they are a drag live, Steely Dan were one of the great, let’s say the greatest jazz fusion band of all times and the first time I caught em live, ’95 at Roseland, presented these difficult songs with verge and energy, the last time I saw em, last year at the Beacon, they were a tedious load of ego they couldn’t fulfil, and the Doobie Brothers are the worst classic rock band just about ever. So why go and see em? Because Vince Gill was joining The Eagles and I wanted to hear are greatest living country singer sing these songs.
Let’s be clear, when Glenn Frey died Henley said that was probably the end of the Eagles and I said not a chance in hell, there was no way on earth Henley was gonna leave all that money lying around and, really, I am indifferent enough not to care either way. The news of two concerts, a “Classic East” and a “Classic West (Fleetwood Mac headlining one night, Henley the other), thrilled me with nothing much at all. And while I have nothing against Deacon Frey, Glenn’s son, joining them, ask yourself this: what if Julian Lennon replaced his father with the Beatles? Still, whatever. I might have gone but maybe not so much. Then came news that Vince Gill would be with the Eagles and that was enough to sell me. My bet is the Eagles will tour after this show, despite Henley’s claims otherwise at Classic West,maybe next summer, my bet is also that Frey Junior will be with them but Vince Gill will need replacing.
Last night at Citifield all three bands were hurt by a muddy sound system. The same sound system that irritated Ken Davis so much at the Dead And Company gig last month. Nothing sounded crisp and clear, everything sounded muffled. All three bands deserved to live and die based solely upon their own performances and couldn’t. The Doobie Brothers performed a strong 75 minute set of hits and near hits with a pretty good buncha pros including leader Tom Johnston and the great utility man John “I played lead on Alison” McFee. The hits hit and the not hits didn’t much miss, there is a lack of pretension about this bunch that even while I don’t much care for them, it seems a little mean to lay into them. They promise old school classic rock with a lotta boogie and some blues (and surprisingly little country) and performed it well enough. I was pleased with an adequate “Taking It To The Streets”.
Steely Dan performed well enough as well but they were a little more tedious and while Walter Becker might not have added much to the proceedings in the past couple of years, he was out due to serious illness, and missed. Donald put together a pretty good set of hits but they are a band that live for details and there were none. In theatres they are boring and self-satisfied, in stadiums they are missing in action. Still, better than last year at the Beacon, including a first rate “Dirty Work”.
The first half hour of the Eagles set, once you get past “Seven Bridges Road” opener. was excellent,; young Deacon stellar on the set opener proper “Take It Easy” (plus, he looks the part!) and Vince Gill surreally gorgeous one two “Take It To The Limit” and “Tequila Sunrise” which, along with a later “New Kid In Town” were the evening’s best moments.
However, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy Schmidt really stopped the evening in its tracks. Henley’s “Glenn is here in spirit” spiel was stupid, if he was here at all it would be to make sure Don gave everybody their fair share. Henley stopped the show dead with the awful “New York Minute,” though, with strings attached to the song, “The Last Resort” was the surprise of the night. I have never much cared for Timothy and his “I Can’t Tell You Why” was the equivalent of breaking up a no hitter early in the proceedings. It was the first though not last misstep. I always felt as though I should love Joe Walsh, but he wasn’t very good opening for Tom Petty earlier this month and much worse last night, stopping the proceedings dead with three songs leading to the encore. Plus, that fake Brooklyn accent? Give it a long rest.
So better than I thought it would be, and Vince was everything I hoped, and, hey, as Billboard noted, over 40 hits, muddy sound or otherwise. I’ll catch em The eagles again when they play MSG in a couple of years, with or without Vince.