The Eagles are currently on break for the holidays, but when they start back up again look out because their “History of the Eagles” concert tour is a phenomenal ride through their extraordinary career as one of the best bands in the world. Before they fly across the pond for yet another leg of their highly anticipated tour, which coincides with their wildly popular documentary of the same name (currently airing on Showtime and available on DVD), the Los Angeles band that formed back in 1971 after playing backup for Linda Ronstadt around town is going to celebrate the Forum’s Grand Re-Opening with a whopping six nights of live performances in mid-January.
Here is what you are in for: a huge stage featuring massive vertical movie screen backdrops serve as a running film complementing each song they perform (this especially comes in handy when Joe Walsh dons a head camera as well as one on the neck of his guitar connected to those screens so the audience can see him play from the same perspective he does … genius!) Co-founders Glenn Frey and Don Henley perform a bare bones acoustic version of the lovely ‘Saturday Night’ (off their second release Desperado) followed by surprise guest and former original Eagles member Bernie Leadon entering. He merges with Henley and Frey to perform a tune he co-wrote with the late Gene Clark of Dillard & Clark, ’Train Leaves Here This Morning’ from the Eagles’ 1972 self-titled debut album. Both opening numbers sound just as gorgeous as they did 40 years ago. The last member to join the group (in 1978) Timothy B. Schmit comes on as Frey introduces the iconic ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling,’ giving kudos to the band’s good friend and fellow songwriter Jack Tempchin for penning it. Frey even readjusts the lyrics performing them the way Tempchin originally wrote them: “I like the way your sparkling earrings swing” vs. “lay.” As Henley explains to the audience how ‘Witchy Woman’ came about (Leadon wrote the music; Henley the lyrics) from nowhere Walsh saunters out, takes a seat, unannounced while the crowd erupts. ‘Doolin-Dalton,’ ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and ‘Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise)’ are then sandwiched together and done to absolute perfection.
Henley and Frey continue their story via giant video screens on either sides of the stage (with excerpts taken from the documentary) explaining the band’s transition from mellow to rock ‘n roll and immediately jam into another Tempchin-written Eagles hit ‘Already Gone,’ followed by Henley’s #1 ballad ‘Best of My Love.’ Frey’s prolific performance of ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ should bring back memories for many L.A. natives: it’s about the West Hollywood haunt Dan Tana’s. Located two doors down from the world-famous Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard (where the co-founders honed their skills playing for Ronstadt in the early 1970s), Tana’s is where they would chase girls who were according to Frey, “kept women.” ‘One of These Nights’ is then belted out by “Golden Throat” Henley and just prior to intermission Frey pays homage to original band mate Randy Meisner by performing ‘Take It to the Limit’ on his behalf. He prefaces their first number-one single by mentioning Meisner has been under the weather lately, but doing better.
The next set of the three-hour show glides from ‘Wasted Time (Reprise)’ into the beautiful ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row’ with Walsh serenading on lead vocals followed by Schmit performing his #3 hit ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ featuring Frey downstage at the piano. Then it’s Frey with his Grammy-winning ‘New Kid in Town’ off their historic fifth release, Hotel California. Schmit assumes lead vocal duties with ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’ from their 1994 #1 2-CD package Hell Freezes Over. Next Frey describes how much The Beach Boys influenced the Eagles…“They were the pioneers; we were the settlers,” he admits to his live audience and the band dives into a stunning edition of ‘Heartache Tonight’ a la Beach Boys performing the first verse a cappella. Henley busts out a riveting version of ‘Those Shoes’; Walsh and company continue to rock the house with ‘In the City.’ The band obviously realizes Walsh’s extreme popularity prior to joining the Eagles and giving them that much needed spark which pushed them into coveted legendary status because they gleefully allow him to showcase his hits complete with screaming vocals and guitar on ‘Life’s Been Good,’ ‘Funk #49’ and ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ sprinkled throughout the third hour of the impeccable concert. Final songs include ‘The Long Run,’ ‘Take It Easy,’ ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Desperado.’ The only tunes missing are their breathtaking rendition of ‘Seven Bridges Road’ and perhaps for Henley fans ‘New York Minute.’
Snippets of most of these songs also appear in their documentary including the entire 6:30 of an incredible ‘Hotel California’ concert performance from 1977. The “History of the Eagles” tour proves their harmonies are still mesmerizing and have not faded with age. They sound just as epic during the final encore as they do at the top of the show and each makes a point to come out to all sides of the stage, full house lights up, to thank their fans for coming … A first class must-see A++ concert.