–by Sean Derrick
In the modern history of popular music there are arguably only a handful of artists who are truly iconic, sell an obscene number of albums, consistently cross (and top) multiple musical genres, and are instantly recognizable by their name: Elvis, Prince, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Whitney Houston, and Tuesday’s performer in Saint Louis – Eagles.
Sure, there are others who have excelled, or exceeded certain aspects on an individual basis, but in reality, this is a very exclusive club to be in. So, no one should be shocked that 50 years after they first hit the airwaves with “Take It Easy”, 15 years after any new material released and numerous lineup changes that they can still sell out arenas with high ticket prices in a high-inflation era. After all this is Eagles we are talking about. (For those who don’t know, it isn’t “The Eagles”, but simply “Eagles”. If I have a “the” in front, it is simply a referral term, and not an official term. So, don’t send any nasty notes about there not being a “The” in the name. Ha)
Whether it was sliding along with the country hit “Lyin’ Eyes” or jamming out with the rocker “Heartache Tonight” Tuesday’s show in front of a jam-packed Enterprise Center crowd was almost entirely focused solely on the music. It was the opening night of a seven city fall leg before the Eagles take a break for the holidays before resuming the tour in February. The Eagles are celebrating one of the greatest selling LP’s of all time: 1976’s Hotel California by performing the album in its entirety.
There is, in Drummer/vocalist Don Henley’s words nothing flashy, “no fireworks, no wind machines, no choreography – just a bunch of guys with guitars.” With a catalogue of hits like the Eagles possess one doesn’t need any of that flashy filler stuff. The closest thing they came to was some mystical/ surreal/ psychedelic imagery that was shown along on the giant screens behind the band during certain songs. But I wouldn’t call that flashy, just the right amount of surrealism for the particular song it played with (case in point, the psychedelic surrealism during Joe Walsh’s talk box assisted guitar solo in “Rocky Mountain Way”. (Local nod here: the first reliable high-powered talk box effects unit was developed by local sound icon Bob Heil who built it for Walsh’s Barnstorm tour in the early 1970’s. I wonder if he made it to the show?)
Opening with their biggest hit; “Hotel California” the band wasted no time in getting to the album part of the show. Many bands who have done an entire album usually wait until the latter half of the set to showcase other material, but not these guys. Remember, this is Eagles we are talking about, they don’t need to prop up lesser-known newer songs.
There wasn’t much in the way of addressing the audience, either. But when they did it was memorable. Henley, after the band performed “The Last Resort”, said “That concludes the Hotel California portion of the show…because vinyl albums were only 40 minutes long.”
There was a full 40-piece orchestra and 20-piece choir backing the band during various numbers. The orchestra was the Steve Shenkel Orchestra, and the choir the Webster University Chamber Singers. After introducing them Henley stated- “With all the technology today there is no substitute for a wooden instrument. Support your local musicians.” Wise wisdom indeed.
So, after a 20-minute break they came back with “Seven Bridges Road” before Henley said they had a special guest, who was Deacon Frey, who (for those who live under a rock) is Glenn Frey’s son. Deacon joined the band in 2018 to fill in for his late father in the band he helped form but left the band this past spring to focus on a solo career. The genes are unbelievable, if you close your eyes Deacon sounds just like Glenn, if you open your eyes Deacon looks just like a young Glenn did in the1970’s. The crowd gave Deacon a standing ovation when he came out to sing “Take It Easy” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” before retreating to the back. He would return later to sing “Already Gone”.
Guitarist/vocalist Joe Walsh as usual brought the crowd to their feet with his exceptional style and raucous wit: “I had more fun being in my 20’s in the ’70’s than I am being in my 70’s in the ’20’s.” Walsh is still one of the best guitarists in the world, even at 74. The usually straight-faced Henley even joined in the humor, stating at one point “It’s been 4 years since we last saw you. Been a Hell of a 4 years.” Then deadpanned “I don’t want to talk about it.”
The Eagles sounded as good as ever, whether it was the smooth falsetto of bassist Timothy B. Schmit on “I Can’t Tell You Why” or the dreamy tenor of Vince Gill paying homage to Glenn Frey’s songs to compliment the raspy perfection of Don Henley, the crowd sang along to every word, tapped along to every note, and for a few hours life slowed down and they could escape reality. Many fans reminisced about a moment in their lives when each of these songs held a place for a memory in their hearts. One particular fan even flew in from Spain to see this show.
Check out eagles.com/events for updated tour dates because this is one show that is certainly worth the money.
And be sure to check out the full photo gallery after the setlist below.
New Kid in Town
Life in the Fast Lane
Wasted Time (Reprise)
Victim of Love
Pretty Maids All in a Row
Try and Love Again
The Last Resort
Set 2, The Hits:
Seven Bridges Road
Take It Easy (with Deacon Frey)
Peaceful Easy Feeling (With Deacon Frey)
One of These Nights
Take It to the Limit
In the City
I Can’t Tell You Why
Life’s Been Good
Already Gone (With Deacon Frey)
Rocky Mountain Way
The Boys of Summer
Best of My Love