The crowd that nearly filled the Sprint Center on Wednesday got exactly what it wanted and expected from the Eagles: a three-hour jukebox bonanza, a cavalcade of hits played just the way everyone remembers them.
By TIMOTHY FINN
The Kansas City Star
Now into its fifth decade, the band launched its History of the Eagles tour in February, which brought back into the fold guitarist Bernie Leadon, who quit in 1975, making way for Joe Walsh to join. Leadon played an early role in Wednesdays festivities, which felt at times as much like a valediction as they did a celebration.
The show opened with Don Henley and Glenn Frey taking the stage with acoustic guitars, grabbing a stool and delivering an unplugged version of Saturday Night, a track off the Desperado album. Then Leadon joined them and sang Train Leaves Here This Morning, a country-folk song from the debut Eagles album and one he co-wrote with Missouri native Gene Clark of the Byrds.
When that was over, bassist Timothy B. Schmit took the stage and joined the others in Peaceful Easy Feeling. Then, with Henley taking his post behind a drum kit, Walsh appeared, took a seat and chipped in on Witchy Woman. Both of those were among the 10 tracks on Their Greatest Hits album, one of the best-selling records ever. Before the night was over, they would play all of its tracks.
After Witchy Woman, a large curtain behind them rose, revealing a large stage and a dazzling display of video screens -- 12 long rectangles arrayed atop eight shorter ones -- that broadcast videos, still photographs, old band footage and other visuals. It also unveiled five musicians (guitars, keyboards, percussion) who would add plenty of instrumental heft for the rest of the night.
Two other video screens that flanked the stage showed videos of Frey and Henley talking about the Eagles history, going back to their earliest days, after they split from Linda Ronstadts touring band and started writing songs together.
This hasnt officially been declared the bands farewell, but it felt like it might be. The Eagles previous tour, which supported the Out of Eden record, was in 2008-09. That one stopped at the Sprint Center twice within five months, nearly selling it out both times.
Four years later, their popularity hasnt flagged even slightly, but everyone in the band is now in their mid-60s. And though they can still unleash some impressive four- and five-part vocal flourishes and Walsh hasnt lost a step on the guitar, there were a few perfunctory moments, something to be expected when youre singing The Long Run for the umpteenth-hundred time.
On the other hand, the big crowd kept the mood bright and buzzed through most of the 27-song setlist, especially during Already Gone, Take It To The Limit, which preceded the intermission, and the indestructible and indefatigable Hotel California, which was the first encore and which still arouses a raucous reaction.
Walsh ignited some of the loudest ovations of the night, both for his guitar fireworks and for his moments at the mic, as in Lifes Been Good and the James Gangs Funk #49. But the loudest roar came right before Heartache Tonight, when Frey asked the crowd who was the lone undefeated professional football team. (And it isnt the Broncos, he chided.)
They closed with Take It Easy and another Walsh hit, Rocky Mountain Way. Then Henley, accompanied by a keyboardist, sang Desperado, one of the bands more beloved songs and a hymn about a life approaching its twilight. It was an apt closer to the evening from a legendary band that is still going strong after 40-plus years but at some level must be feeling the dimming of its days.
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