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Concert Reviews:
The Eagles' History flies high at Joe Louis Arena

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, July 25, 2015

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DETROIT -- The Eagles' history hasn't changed much during the two years since the group's History of the Eagles Tour last rolled through town, at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

And nobody seeing it Friday night, July 24, at Joe Louis Arena minded a bit.

With the History of the Eagles, the venerable California band -- co-founded by Royal Oak native Glenn Frey -- has found a captivating way to celebrate a legacy of multi-platinum albums and enduring hits, as well as some of the most storied interpersonal dynamics in rock 'n' roll, that holds up to repeat visits. The lightly scripted concert, mixing both live and on-screen narration with an abundance of music, covered all bases during its three hours and 10 minutes (including intermission), from the Eagle's impressively record-like vocal harmonies to tightly delivered arrangements of the show's 28 songs.

It made a convincing and engaging statement about a band that's made a big footprint on popular culture, and about the timeless, enduring appeal of the Eagles' music. As co-founder Don Henley told the Joe Louis crowd on Friday about the making of 1979's "The Long Run" album, "Disco and punk had become all the range. Look who's still here -- thanks to you."

The Eagles' History lesson served as both a reminder to longtime fans and a comprehensive indoctrination to newcomers or younger fans -- right down to the Linda Ronstadt songs played on the PA before the Eagles hit the stage (Frey and Henley played in her band before starting the Eagles). Frey and Henley started the show seated on stools and equipment cases, just like they did in 1971, playing "Saturday Night," then brought out co-founder Bernie Leadon -- who left the band in 1975 -- for a rendition of Dillard & Clark's "Train Leaves Here This Morning." Later Eagles members Timothy B. Schmidt and Joe Walsh joined on subsequent songs, with the full group, including five extra musicians, coalescing on "Witchy Woman."

The rest, as they say, was History as the Eagles tripped through highlight after highlight that had the crowd paying unusually rapt attention and singing along with songs that have become familiar friends over the decades. The rootsy "Doolin' Dalton" and the smooth "Tequila Sunrise" were both spiced with anecdotes from Frey and Henley. "Already Gone" featured a tongue-in-cheek video of Frey making his way from Detroit to California, while the vocal harmonies on "The Best of My Love" and "Lyin' Eyes" were nothing less than sublime.

AFter a mellow start -- including the Walsh-sung "Pretty Maids All in a Row," Schmidt's "I Can't Tell You Why)" and "New Kid in Town" -- the second half of the night let the Eagles' rock a little more. The Bob Seger co-written "Heartache Tonight" led the way, while Walsh lit up the arena with his comic but considerable guitar hero schtick on "In The City," "Life's Been Good" and, from his James Gang days, "Funk #49," and with his blistering solos on "Life in the Fast Lane."

"Hotel California," meanwhile, was iconic enough to merit its own encore, while Leadon came back for final run through "Take It Easy," Walsh's gritty opus "Rocky Mountain Way" and the gentle, majestic "Desperado" that sent the crowd home both swooning and cheering -- and most likely to return in another couple of years, even if the Eagles' history remains the same.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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