We all knew it was coming. It was two hours and a second encore in the making yet when the career defining opening of Hotel California played a frisson of goosebumps traversed my body. It was one of those moments. It was that same inimitable guitar sound coupled with the gorgeous vocal harmonies that have captivated audiences across the world for more than four decades. The Eagles had definitely landed.
Don Henley and Glen Frey opened the show, aptly titled the History of the Eagles, and proceeded with the back catalogue of songs, giving snippets of the bands story in between. Every so often a new face from their collective past came on stage – Bernie Leadon to begin with, the reserved Timothy Schmidt and the unforgettable Joe Walsh. The playlist was peppered with the hits – Heartache Tonight, Lyin’ Eyes, Best of My Love and Witchy Woman amidst the lesser known album tracks. This really was a no frills set. The band relied on their skills as musicians and vocalists to entertain the full to capacity Echo Arena.
Personally I would have forgone a few of the guitar solos and even the guitar riff-off between Glen and Joe in place of a few of the solo releases such as Henley’s Forever Young or Boys of the Summer, both of which are as much a part of the Eagles story as their group numbers. However, in a group that has (somewhat ironically) been faced with disharmony due to egos I can understand why this wasn’t the case.
The Eagles came back to perform two encores to a more lively crowd who had previously been reticent during the first half; saving the bulk of the their hits such as Take it Easy, Desperado (a full piano version) and the aforementioned Hotel California until the end.
Ultimately, everyone in the audience had their own reasons for going. For me it was the slice of pure Americana, nostalgia for family trips during the summer when the only band that we could all collectively agree to listen to was the Eagles. For me, they are hot summer days cramped in my mother’s car. The Eagles have managed to tell stories and allowed audiences to create their own memories for forty two years already; long may they soar.