Eagles At Madison Square Garden, October 10th, 2018, Reviewed
“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.”
I wrote that July 2017 (here) and except for Vince still being with Eagles, got it right.
I also wrote this:
“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…” So on and so forth.
So why see the show again? Last night the timing was right, I was on vacation, at a loose end, no work the following day, why not? It was exactly the same though I did make it all the way to “Hotel California,” the first time ever I might add, and I am happy to allow that it still sucks. This is Warren Zevon for people who never heard Zevon, The Byrds (who were vastly superior last week at the Town Hall) for people who define hubris.
There are plenty of lulls, like every single time Timothy Schmidt opens his mouth, and highlights, every single song Vince wraps his sweet voice around (“Take It to the Limit,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “New Kid In Town,”Lying Eyes.” and more) is mind blowing, and other new kid, Glenn’s son Deacon, was good enough. I loved Joe Walsh’s talk-box guitar solo on “Those Shoes” and otherwise found the great slide guitarist as irritating as ever. The truth is, everybody was as irritating as ever.
As long as we are reliving the past , here is something on Eagles written their history tour in 2015 (here): “Of all the really big rock bands who ever existed, the Eagles were among the worst. They matched the smugness of Arcade Fire with the compassion of Kanye West, while writing some really great songs but mostly adding soft rock to country rock and reaping the dividends with a number of huge huge songs, and albums, from 1971 – 1979, before exploding in a lethal mix of cocaine and ego. The 1980s found the guitarist Glenn Fry and drummer Don Henley forge successful solo careers. Those careers derailed and so the Eagles returned with a tour in 1994, a new album in 2007, and several tours since than complete with the most expensive tickets and the most arrogant attitudes in a business.” When it comes to Henley you just can’t be too cynical. Though Steve Crawford comes close in this classic put down dating from 2013:
“I am the wrong person to review an Eagles concert because I absolutely hate them. I hate their somnambulistic country/rock hybrid, which is neither country nor rock. I hate their combination of well-crafted, uninspired studio “perfectionism” and the insufferable conceit of ego monsters Henley and Frey. This is a unit that started recording over four decades ago and has maybe ten passable to good songs, yet they continue to parade their solipsism as though they are eternally relevant. I hate that they even make cocaine seem like a boring drug.
“They are currently performing on the “History of the Eagles” tour, which reads better on a t-shirt than “The Endless Evening of Self-Congratulation.” Packing 20,000 middle-aged white people (who looked like they stumbled in from an Amway convention) into an arena built for professional basketball, the Eagles spent the evening discussing their history from the stage and on pre-taped segments. They performed almost thirty songs in a show that lasted over three hours. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a concert or serving a sentence.
“The first set of music started with Henley and Frey performing an acoustic version of “Saturday Night,” which sadly wasn’t the Bay City Rollers song. Original lead guitarist Bernie Leadon made it a trio for “Train Leaves Here This Morning,” then Timothy B. Schmidt came out for “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” Eventually, the stage would be filled with not only the Eagles, but included six additional musicians on keyboards, percussion, piano, and guitar. Joe Walsh was handcuffed for most of the evening as Stuart Small spent the evening performing the Don Henley guitar parts.
“Whether you enjoy an Eagles concert would solely depend on your enjoyment of their catalogue, since their primary goal is to replicate their studio work. Visually, despite a video screen behind the performers, they make a bowl of oatmeal look like the Las Vegas strip. I don’t know why a fan wouldn’t just stay at home and listen to their Greatest Hits album. It’s cheaper and the bathroom lines are shorter. The only thing you would miss is Glenn Frey’s constant blathering about how great they are.
“If you don’t play into the fantasy that the Eagles are an important band, you are basically stuck listening terminal sets of mid-tempo dross that only ends when they give Joe Walsh a chance to take center stage. Even the original studio version of “Funk #49” had ten times the energy than the live performance, which must mean that the James Gang had a competent rock rhythm section.
“Look, I’d write more about this soulless celebration of self-importance (you want to know that my notes include that Henley sounded like a “castrated dolphin,”), but it’s not worth anyone’s energy. I’m not checking into the hotel California, I don’t care about the new kid in town, and I’m perfectly happy eating lunch all by myself. The fact that the Eagles can make as much money as they want by trotting out this uninspired drivel might be the best performance art joke in the history of popular music.
Grade – D+”
As for me, I’d give em more that ten songs, I dislike Joe more than Steve does, but I bet Steve would love Vince Gill’s gorgeous vocals. And so the most cynical band that ever lived, the Richard Nixon of classic rock, will keep on playing as long as we keep on playing. Will there ever be enough bread? We’ll find out in the long run.