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Life is real good for the Eagles

TD Garden, Boston, September 11, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

If The Eagles are hanging it up for good as they claim, then The Long Goodbye Tour speaks volumes about the enduring legacy and quality of the band if the first of two Boston dates was any indication.

Simply stated, there was a tremendous amount to like about the performance from the musical veterans that drew an overwhelmingly older crowd.

First off, was the singing. That was clear from the outset when five band members came out front with acoustic guitars in hand to play "Seven Bridges Road." This portended what would be a night of wonderful singing.

The Eagles were built on strong, distinctive lead singing with lots of backing harmonies. This show was replete with that. Make no mistake about it – at age 76, drummer/acoustic guitarist/main band spokesperson Don Henley, maintained his vocal charm. From his own "The Boys of Summer" to closing out the two-hour show with "Hotel California," is a mighty effective singer. In fact, each of the four mainstays of the group – guitarist Vince Gill, guitarist Joe Walsh and bassist Timothy B. Schmit - had a chance to take lead vocals. Unlike the other singers, Schmitt didn't always cleanly reach the upper registers ("I Can't Tell You Why").

Gill, the country star who has joined The Eagles on multiple tours, has a rich, take command tenor. A most excellent guitarist as well, Gill was underutilized in that area.

Back on tour with The Eagles is Deacon Frey, taking lead on songs his late father, Glenn, would have sung. Frey more than did justice to songs like "Peaceful Easy Feeling" with a black-and-white picture of his father unveiled at song's end.

And then there were the songs themselves. The Eagles had a plethora of material to choose from, and the concert relied almost exclusively on the tried-and-true tunes of yesterday. It's awfully hard to go wrong when you have hit song after hit song, including "Take It Easy," "One of These Nights" "New Kid in Town," "Take It to the Limit" and "Best of My Love," which was dedicated to America, in order.

The new kid may be coming sometime, but he's not about to send The Eagles off their hit-making perch.

One of the highlights of the night was the propulsive "Heartache Tonight," closing out the regular set with Gill handling the lead and Walsh doing his thing on slide guitar.

The show was not only about songs of The Eagles. Gonzo guitar player Joe Walsh offered a few of his own songs, including "In the City," "Life's Been Good," the James Gang's "Funk #49" and the rocking chestnut "Rocky Mountain Way."

The Eagles were no slouches when it came to their musicianship either. Every musician turned in excellent performances, perhaps none more so than veteran touring guitarist Steuart Smith. While Gill and Walsh are great guitarists, a lot of the spotlight shone on Smith, who sported a double-neck guitar on "Hotel California."

Walsh turned in a number of very sturdy licks – on "Rocky Mountain Way," of course - guiding the night into more of a rock direction.

Whoever created the set deserved a lot of credit because of the ability to mix tempos and tones in a well-constructed flow. There was no dead material or bathroom break inducing music on this night.

Interestingly, though not particularly perceived as a country band as their commercial success grew, The Eagles displayed far more of a country sound through guitar work than what is commonly heard on country radio today.

It would be easy to dismiss the Eagles' The Long Goodbye Tour as a final money grab. But that would be highly cynical given the vocal, musical and song chops of the band, which never rested on its laurels. The Eagles may have just about hit the half-century mark as a band, but never sounded it. Life can be real good with nights like this.

Steely Dan opened the show with a 70-minute hit-laden set. The musical potpourri of jazz, rock, blues and soulful funk remained intact.

Like the headliners, Steely Dan was top notch when it came to playing from the horn/sax section to the guitarists to steady handed drumming from Keith Carlock.

The songs may be old and the group around for a long time, but Steely Dan's music held up well whether the old time, Springsteen like "My Old School" or the expansive "Reelin' in the Years."

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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