The 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Famers proved that much when Henley and his fellow desperadoes dazzled fans at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Sunday night (April 8) with a greatest hits marathon that lasted nearly three hours and boasted over twenty-five familiar Eagles classics (and cool covers).
Here’s five reasons why you should watch the Eagles flying high again.
1. Henley, Walsh and Schmidt are still on board.
Joining Henley were longtime Eagles allies Joe Walsh (who replaced guitarist Bernie Leadon in 1976) and Timothy B. Schmidt (who stepped in for bassist Randy Meisner in 1977), along with recent hires Deacon Frey and Vince Gill (both on guitars and vocals).
Hotel California-era guitarist Don Felder left the group in 2001. Eagles cofounder Glenn Frey died suddenly in January 2016, leaving the band’s future in doubt. But The Long Run rockers tapped country superstar Gill for the Classic East and Classic West stadium concerts last year, and recruited young Deacon—Glenn’s son—to carry the torch for his pops on stage.
2. The band’s new additions are pitch-perfect.
To say the fresh blood has revitalized the desert-rock ensemble would be an understatement: While the loss of a member as irreplaceable as Frey could (and often should) mean curtains for many high-profile legacy acts, these plucky ducks took wing again with angelic-voiced Vince and dashing Deacon for last year’s History of the Eagles tour. Spotlights were shared, vocals and guitar solos successfully interchanged, and full doses of nostalgia injected. Sure, the elder Frey was gone—but the gritty guitar riffs, shimmery acoustic strums, and ebullient harmonies he wrote were intact. Deacon’s a chip off the old block, too, vocally. With his long, wavy brown hair, he even resembled his father in the Seventies (sans the heavy stache).
Glenn himself appeared courtesy archival footage on the stage’s big screen.
Henley, Walsh and company recreated that magic again in the heart of Ohio, wowing with radio staples and deep cuts like “Seven Bridges Road,” “Take It Easy,” “One of These Nights,” “Take It to the Limit,” and “Tequila Sunrise.” Lead vocals predominantly went to Henley, Frey and Gill, but Schmidt lent his high tenor to “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “Love Will Keep Us Alive”—and Walsh took over on “Life’s Been Good” and a pair of James Gang classics (“Walk Away,” “Funk #49”) late in the set.
3. The songs sound just like the old days.
Do you want nostalgia? You'll get it. Tom Waits cover “Ol’ 55” was an exercise in four-part harmony. “Best of My Love,” Lyin’ Eyes,” and “New Kid in Town” were spine-tingling. “Those Shoes” had Henley crooning into his overhanging-head microphone, and “Already Gone” was a galloping good time. Gill even did one of his own tunes (“Next Big Thing”) with the gang.
4. It’s guitar extravaganza.
Good luck keeping track of all the guitars the Eagles employ in concert. From big-body acoustic guitars (on the ballads and country fare) to the electric Les Pauls, Fender Strats, and Telecasters there were plenty of axes at play. Baltimore native Steuart Smith augmented Walsh’s lead guitar lines on the heavier, harder numbers, fingers dancing over the frets of his Fender Stratocaster. Gill held his own, too, naturally.
Brisk, bouncy “Life in the Fast Lane” would’ve been a fitting end to any Eagles show. But when you’re the band behind “Hotel California,” you can’t omit it. So there it was, the song about dark desert highways and steely knives lining the Eagles encore with bright guitar arpeggios and dueling electrics courtesy Walsh and Smith (who wielded a double-neck). Walsh’s encore addendum of “Rocky Mountain Way” was choice, and finale “Desperado” was divine.
5. The opening act are straight shooters.
Supporting the Eagles was acoustic ensemble J.D. and The Straight Shot, who warmed up the venue with selections from their 2017 Good Luck and Good Night and 2015 effort Ballyhoo.
The group (who’ve opened for The Doobie Brothers and ZZ Top) offered a smooth blend of country, Americana, and bluegrass courtesy their vocal harmonies, fluid fiddle, stand-up bass, and acoustic guitars.
Front man James Dolan steered his troupe through songs about a boy who falls in love with a statue (“Moonlight”) and gamblers at the race track (“Run for Me”). He said “Perdition” was used in an overlooked Natalie Portman film (Jane Got a Gun). Other entries included “Better Find a Church,” “Under That Hood,” and “Glide.”
Straight Shot guitar / mandolin man Marc Copley has played with such big names as Rosanne Cash and B.B. King, while bassist Byron House has played sideman to Robert Plant and Dolly Parton. Violinist Erin Slaver (Martina McBride, Rod Stewart) and guitarist Carolyn Dawn Johnson were equally excellent on the holiday-themed “Ballad of Jacob Marley” and spin on Three Dog Night’s “Shambala.”
The Eagles’ 53-date tour runs through April and May. In the summer they’ll shares stages with fellow silver centurions James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett.
So be sure to check ‘em out. But leave your cameras at home: Nationwide Arena revelers weren’t allowed to bring in any photographic devices of any kind, and folks who used cell phones to take pictures or video were subject to ejection.
We get the whole “enjoy the moment” thing, but we also got the distinct impression that the Draconian measures were designed to ensure that anyone who wanted a souvenirs of the Eagles engagement paid handsomely for it.