The longer run – Eagles concert 2010

The last time I saw the Eagles in concert was back in 1975 when they were the opening act for Linda Ronstadt. Thirty-five years later, their hair is shorter (at least Frey and Henley) and their jeans are cleaner and don’t have any holes, but they still don’t break a sweat playing the soft country rock that immortalized them.

But then Joe Walsh wasn’t a part of the band back in 1975, and didn’t come aboard until the Hotel California album in 1976. And now … he’s the life of the party. The greatest response to an introduction of a band member or to any song from the 18,000 strong at the spanking new Amway Center in Orlando this October evening was for Joe. Except for the one deluded fan who kept screaming for Joe to play, “Misty Mountain Hop,” they all seemed to know his early James Gang catalog pretty well, to the point of dancing or singing along with “Funk #49” and “Walk Away.” And perhaps the summit the misguided Joe enthusiast was thinking of arrived in the form of “Rocky Mountain Way” from Walsh’s solo career. He also played “In the City,” from The Long Run, “Guilty of the Crime” from the new album and, of course, “Life’s Been Good,” which brought the house down. And life HAS been good to Joe. How is it that the hardest partying maniac of the group, most notorious for substance and hotel abuses, is the one who looks the healthiest and can still shake it down as the best rock and roll showman all these years later? I dunno. Maybe I’ll find the answer in Keith Richard’s new autobiography.

Henley wore his usual troubled, unsmiling gaze most of the evening, so you can never tell if he’s really having a good time. But he sounded in fine voice on “Witchy Woman,” “Hotel California,” “One of These Nights,” “Best of My Love,” “Boys of Summer,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” and the third encore closer, “Desperado.” The first encore included “Dirty Laundry,” which originally was written about local 80s L.A. “bubble-headed bleach blonde” anchor women such Christine Lund and Kelly Lange, but has now appropriately been expanded to include the likes (via video playing behind the stage) of Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Henley perhaps should have recognized that if this crowd drinking $9.25 Budweisers goes most apeshit over the early redneck songs of Joe Walsh, then a haunting epic about the decline of the American empire that is the great song, “Long Road Out of Eden” wasn’t going to stir any standing ovation – just a lot of mostly blank looks, like they weren’t exactly sure what it was about. But the video of the tanks leaving Iraq and empty boots in the sand couldn’t have been too mistaken for gung ho Americana.

You get a great snapshot of the personalities (and priorities) at play during the video clips or tabloids, when Frey appears on the cover of Golf Digest winning the Masters Tournament, and Henley appears on the cover of Time magazine solving global warming.

Glenn Frey plays the M.C. and stand up comic in requisite white T with open hanging flannel shirt and some nice Detroit pimp shoes. The joke about their former girlfriends’ or wives assuming “Take it To the Limit” was a song about credit cards gets a good response. And the song is a real highlight of the evening as the crowd sings along. Frey also finally gets some moves in dancing by himself toward the back of the stage in between the keyboard players while Henley belts out “All She Wants to Do Is Dance,” for the second encore. Relations between the notoriously competitive egos seems cordial, but I couldn’t help noticing how Henley introduced his biggest Eagles hit, “Best of My Love” as the first number one single the Eagles ever had, and Frey introduces his biggest hit, “Take it To the Limit” as the first number one MILLION-SELLING single the Eagles ever had. Touche.

I like that Timothy B. Scmidt still wears his hair to his ass and doesn’t dye it. There has to be one true hippie representative left in this $230-per-ticket money machine. Even Joe Walsh, who still keeps his hair long and blonde, looks like he’s hooked up with Kelly Lange’s and Christine Lund’s former hair colorist/stylists.

I enjoyed the show, which ran nearly three hours, very much. And they played pitch perfect versions of every hit, with a fourth guitarist, Steuart Smith, matching Don Felder’s and Bernie Leadon’s original licks note for note, point for point, even on the double-necked guitar for “Hotel California.” But there was one thing missing from this epic evening of memory lane good vibes in this brand new pristine palace of clean jeans and clean licks — some dirty air … The same kind of smoke-filled air that goes with ripped jeans, unwashed long hair and peaceful easy feelings.

— A. Wayne Carter

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