Unlike most people, I don’t like salmon, the Dave Matthews Band or most of the Eagles’ hit songs. But unlike the first two, I can still enjoy consuming Eagles tunes, particularly when surrounded by the 10,770 raucous fans that came to Verizon Arena last Thursday to adore the geriatric rockers.
The Eagles’ trademark has always been laid-back, melodic pop ditties with a twinge of country and usually embellished with lush harmonies. Examples include “Take It Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” “Take It to the Limit” and “One of These Nights,” all of which were recreated during the Verizon show in their purest, true-to-the-original forms – and greeted with enthusiastic mass approval.
Those songs sound to me the way cotton candy tastes — sweet without a lot of substance. But that’s really my problem, not the Eagles’. They’ve ridden that horse for nearly 40 years, establishing themselves as one of the most significant and beloved American bands ever.
One of the Eagles’ unique characteristics is that any of the four front men can take the spotlight, and do. Don Henley remains the MVP, the writer and singer of many Eagles classics, a multi-talented guy who hasn’t lost a thing over the decades. Glenn Frey sings another passel of hits, and while his voice is not quite as powerful as it once was, his mates’ harmonies bolstered his somewhat thin tenor. Timothy B. Schmit is blessed with one of those bell-clear high voices that would qualify him to front a Journey or Rush cover band if he ever gets tired of this Eagles thing.
And then there’s Joe Walsh — the class clown, the bad boy who mugged for the cameras that beamed the on-stage action to two large screens, the one who was given the chance to showcase many of his non-Eagles highlights, including “Walk Away” and the rocking “Funk No. 49” from his days fronting the James Gang and “In the City,” “Life’s Been Good” and “Rocky Mountain Way” from his solo career. His gonzo style added refreshing edginess to the serious, staid approach of his band mates.
The crowning song of the show was another solo hit, Henley’s “Dirty Laundry,” the song about the media’s treatment of “news” that seems much more relevant today than when released in 1982. A sequence of rapid-fire on-screen shots of Glenn Beck, Nancy Grace, Keith Olbermann and other opinionated talking heads punctuated and enriched the song.
Though the vast majority of Eagles’ hits hails from the previous century, this wasn’t only an oldies show. “Long Road Out of Eden,” the title cut from the 2007 release, also made good use of the video screens as scenes of decay and destruction provided a stark visual backdrop, and a couple of other songs from that album were included.
This concert was the final date on the first long leg of the Eagles’ tour, but the boys didn’t slack off, performing almost three hours with one 20-minute break. The show that started at 7:40 p.m. finally ended near 11 p.m. with Henley spotlighted on the sparse “Desperado,” another syrupy ballad fans adore.
Henley, Schmit and Walsh are 62, and Frey is 61, and all have been hard at it for 40 years, producing an impressive collection of notable works that still sound fresh, if a little sappy, all these years later. Their hard-core fans’ passion and appreciation haven’t waned.