he Eagles call its current tour "The Long Goodbye," and with so many slower songs in its set, the performance began to sound, well, a tad long. Without Joe Walsh's energetic sparkplug of rocking inclusions, the group might come off to some as a country-tinged yacht rock act. Then again, with so many familiar singalong moments, it was tough to fully fault the act's concert this night. There were just too many fine songs sung well, heightened by spot-on vocal harmonies to gripe much.
If you've seen any of the Eagles' more recent tours, its setlist would have looked extremely familiar. The band opened with "Seven Bridges Road," as it so often does, and concluded with the stomping "Heartache Tonight." In between came hit after hit after hit. Don Henley confessed to having a scratchy throat, but this was only noticeable whenever he spoke, but not when he sang. Henley sang the spooky early hit "Witchy Woman," as well as his solo single, "Boys of Summer," which he dedicated to the memory of the late Jimmy Buffett. Henley switched time between playing/singing behind the drums and standing up front with his acoustic guitar.
Glenn Frey's son, Deacon Frey, looks more like his late dad every day, and nailed it on "Take It Easy" and others. He's also evolved into a skilled guitarist. However, with Walsh and Steuart Smith also playing lead lines, he didn't have many chances to show off what he can do. Smith deserves a mention here because he is brilliant. He has so much magic in that instrumental bag of tricks of his and stood out soloing again and again.
Another "sideman," Vince Gill, is an additional standout ringer. He especially shined singing "Lyin' Eyes," and may well be the best vocalist in the band. Timothy B. Schmit only took the spotlight once, but sounded stellar hitting those high notes on the hypnotic "I Can't Tell You Why." Walsh added a welcome touch of humor, in addition to true rock and roll guitar power, making faces and mixing in some mean slide guitar lines along with his funky solos. He made the hit "Life in the Fast Lane" rock even harder (and better?) live.
The Eagles relatively low energy level was made all the more apparent after following Steely Dan's high-powered opening set. Without Walter Becker, the band is now Donald Fagen and a large crew of musicians. Ah, but what a fine group he brings along with him!
Most every player got a turn to solo and the group, and this large ensemble included two fantastic lead guitarists. Fagen was in bright spirits as he led the band through just over an hour of music. This wasn't nearly long enough to play all of Steely Dan's best music (and there is just so much of it), but everything performed was recognizable and fantastic.
The setlist included the speedy "Bodhisattva," "Aja" (which Fagen introduced has having a song with many chords), and smartly awkward "Hey Nineteen." Fagen, that famous perfectionist, gave us precise live versions of these familiar songs. The bonus was how so many of these favorites also featured extended instrumental solos, which included trombone, trumpet and saxophone performances. This made them special and nicely different from their recorded versions.
One might note how each band included few original members. But the gathered players were so good that such a statement would amount to a small complaint. Knowing the Eagles' history of touring again, after saying it's touring days were over, "The Long Goodbye" might just go down in history as goodbye – for now.