The Eagles still have the long road ahead of them.
That much was quickly crystal clear when the iconic classic rock ensemble took the stage at New York City’s legendary Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Oct. 9, for the first in a two-show stand there as part of the band’s 2018 tour.
The current iteration of The Eagles features classic members Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit; late singer and guitarist Glenn Frey, who died in 2016, is represented by the joint efforts of his son, Deacon Frey, and country star Vince Gill.
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Tuesday night’s show opened on a note of deep solidarity, with the band locked into a six-part harmony on a chilling rendition of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road” that quickly turned into a robust country guitar picking session.
That was followed, in turn, by Deacon Frey taking lead on a rendering of his father’s country rock classic “Take It Easy” that was more celebratory than elegiac.
“Young man has had some big shoes to fill and he’s stepped up like a champ,” Henley told the crowd of Deacon Frey later in the night. “It’s been a healing experience for all of us.”
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The rest of the night essentially followed suit, a nearly-three-hour showcase of top-flight musicians and singers respectfully delivering their catalog, one of the most robust and crowd-pleasing in the history of American popular song.
And while each of the band’s core members was given time in the spotlight to showcase their individual gifts, the focus always returned back to the importance of the unified front.
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Deacon Frey and Gill’s combined efforts did fine justice to Glenn Frey’s legacy, with the young player ably taking center stage on strummy classics like “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Already Gone.”
Meanwhile Gill found the rootsy heart at the core of so many Eagles classics such as “Tequila Sunrise,” “Lyin’ Eyes” and the Tom Waits cover “Ol’ 55.” Enlisting him for this iteration of the Eagles was a masterful move; his vocal and instrumental chemistry with the band felt rich and organic throughout.
Walsh, a Montclair native singer/guitarist who’s a legend in his own right apart from his work as an Eagle, was in particularly fine form all night.
(Watch a video of Walsh’s recent return to his North Jersey hometown in the player at the top of this story.)
While Walsh seemed happy to contribute acoustic rhythm guitar and harmony vocals as part of the nine-man band, he injected vigor and personality with his electric guitar work throughout.
Walsh’s stabs of guitar played off the blasts of a horn section in the Henley-led “Witchy Woman,” his tasteful slide guitar solo fleshed out Gill’s solo hit “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away,” and he busted out the guitar talk box for the stomping “Those Shoes.”
Walsh also wowed the crowd with a quartet of selections from his non-Eagles days, with the James Gang rocker “Walk Away” taking things up a notch before the singular hybrid prog/reggae groove of “Life’s Been Good” blossomed into an arena-wide sing-along.
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In turn, Henley delivered a pair of tunes from his solo days: the hit single “The Boys of Summer” and the relative deep cut “New York Minute.” The track from 1989’s “The End of the Innocence” was played Tuesday night by the Eagles for only the third time since 1994.
Henley dedicated “New York Minute” to Nov. 6, Election Day, an unambiguous statement when paired with the song’s lyrics of how “in a New York minute, everything can change.”
But the song’s inclusion in the set felt potently personal as well as political; after all, this is a band that has been through plenty of tumultuous shifts across the decades, so by acknowledging how quickly everything can change Henley and company were, once again, seizing on the preciousness of the finite present.
The Eagles’ tour continues Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Madison Square Garden, followed by an engagement Friday, Oct. 12, at the Prudential Center in Newark before continuing to cross the country this fall and heading to international stages in 2019.
- “Seven Bridges Road”
- “Take It Easy”
- “One of These Nights”
- “Take It to the Limit”
- “Tequila Sunrise”
- “Witchy Woman”
- “In the City”
- “I Can’t Tell You Why”
- “New Kid in Town”
- “How Long”
- “Peaceful Easy Feeling”
- “Ol’ 55”
- “New York Minute”
- “Lyin’ Eyes”
- “Love Will Keep Us Alive”
- “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away”
- “Those Shoes”
- “Already Gone”
- “Walk Away”
- “Life’s Been Good”
- “The Boys of Summer”
- “Heartache Tonight”
- “Funk #49”
- “Life in the Fast Lane”
- “Hotel California”
- “Rocky Mountain Way”
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