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Concert Reviews:
The Eagles put history first at Palace show

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2013

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AUBURN HILLS -- Throughout their history, the Eagles have enjoyed big record sales and awards, outlasted personal and musical differences and ego battles, and have been guided by a strong sense of independence from the norms of the music industry.

Mostly, however, the 41 years since the group's first album has been marked by hits -- and the group's lengthy, comprehensive History of the Eagles concert on Saturday night, Sept. 21, at The Palace provided a reminder of just how prolific the band has been in that regard.

Different than other shows the Eagles have presented, this one -- weighing in at three hours and 10 minutes, including a 20-minute intermission -- offered an extra bit of thematic concept and narrative, particularly during its first half. With good buddy Bob Seger, who co-wrote the Eagles' 1979 hit "Heartache Tonight," watching from the sound board, the night began with co-founders Don Henley and Royal Oak native Glenn Frey alone with acoustic guitars, sitting on amplifiers and singing "Saturday Night" -- which appropriately opens "seems like a dream now, it was so long ago." -- from 1973's "Desperado" album. The trip down memory lane continued when fellow founder Bernie Leadon, who left the Eagles in 1975, returned to sing "Train Leaves Here This Morning," with bassist Timothy B. Schmit joining for "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and Joe Walsh, Leadon's replacement, ambling on for "Witchy Woman."

The Eagles' five backing musicians joined after that, and the rest of the first set mixed commentary and remembrances -- both live and in taped video segments -- with accurately recreated favorites such as "Tequila Sunrise," "Already Gone," "Best of My Love," "Lyin' Eyes" and "Take It to the Limit" (dedicated to ailing original bassist Randy Meisner), although the Eagles also treated the near-sellout crowd by digging deep for "Desperado's" "Doolin-Dalton" and the "Doolin-Daltin/Desperado (Reprise)" that closed the album.

The show's second half was not quite as tightly bound, although there was a subtle message when Frey sang "New Kid in Town" after "new" members Walsh and Schmit opened the set with "Pretty Maids All in a Row" and "I Can't Tell You Why," respectively. From there, however, it was a more random recitation from the Eagles' post-Leadon days, though still fixated on the group's 1972-81 heyday; the Eagles played only one song, the Schmit-sung "Love Will Keep Us Alive," from 1994's "Hell Freezes Over" and nothing from its Grammy Award-winning 2007 set "Long Road Out of Eden."

You'd be hard-pressed to find too many complaints about that from the Palace crowd, however. Frey won big cheers for every mention of his Michigan roots while Walsh -- who opened Seger's two April concerts at the Palace -- practically stole the show with hard-rocking fare like "In the City," "Life's Been Good," the James Gang's "Funk #49" and his signature licks on "Life in the Fast Lane." Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way" was an encore highlight as well, giving "Hotel California" and "Take It Easy" a run for their money.

"Desperado," meanwhile, brought the night to a quiet close -- but only after the Eagles showed the Palace crowd just how much significant noise the group has made during the past 41 years, and especially during the first decade of its history.

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