23 May 2019
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Gig Review: The Eagles @ Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin - 2/03/2019

03 Mar 2019 // A review by Jacquie Walters

“There are stars in the Southern sky” sang The Eagles, and even as the first few notes resounded around Forsyth Barr Stadium the audience could not help but think that the constellation was in fact on stage in front of them.


The beautiful wash of vocal harmonies from the line-up of original members Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B Schmidt and additions, Glenn Frey’s son Deacon and singer-songwriter Vince Gill was breath-taking. We were all on notice; this was not a performance that the super group were dialling in, this was them in their full glory.


With legendary Aussie rocker John Farnham having become unavailable as support act due to illness, the honour for opening the night fell to Marlon Williams. It was always going to be a tough gig for Williams. Despite delivering his usual tasteful and high-quality set, the crowd were largely impassive as they waited for the main event. Highlights for me were Make Way For Love and Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore. Williams has a gorgeous voice and he is not afraid to take risks, such as ending the set with a solo number on acoustic guitar. Hopefully he won over a few new fans in the audience, he certainly deserved to.

After The Eagles’ first number Joe Walsh introduced Deacon Frey, who then took the lead vocal on Take It Easy, establishing his credentials as a more than worthy inclusion in the line-up.

Don Henley won over the crowd with his opening line, “Hello South Islanders” and his announcement that the band were set to deliver two and a half hours of music without a break “Because you deserve it and because we can”.

Vince Gill was a fantastic addition to the group’s line up. A marvellous singer-songwriter with a huge following in his own right, Gill delivered Take It To The Limit and Tequila Sunrise with real class, honouring Glenn Frey’s vocal legacy with style. The group were then joined by a brass section blasting out a very tight rendition of Witchy Woman.

The vocal commitment of all the band members was a joy to behold. The passion for the material remains and the audience responded with huge enthusiasm. I Can’t Tell You Why was particularly gorgeous as was Deacon Frey’s vocal on Peaceful Easy Feeling which brought a tear to many an eye, especially when his Dad’s photo appeared on the big screen at the end of the song.

It is hard to single out individual numbers for praise, however, as hit after hit was played with expert musicianship and huge heart.

Vince Gill on Lyin' Eyes was a singalong hit and he seemed to enjoy hearing the audience following his lead word for word (especially in the choruses). Joe Walsh was wonderful in Life’s Been Good – his particular brand of raw energy is a great complement to the band’s burnished vocal harmony-dominated numbers. Walsh’s vocals and lead guitar soared, undimmed by the passage of the years evident in close-ups of his hands.

It was really enjoyable seeing some material from band member’s solo work included in the evening, especially Don Henley’s gorgeous 1980's hit The Boys of Summer.

Heartache Tonight brought the evening to a whole other level, the crowd leaping to their feet with a roar as it started. Life In The Fast Lane brought the main body of the concert to a close with true rocker energy.

The audience was never going to let the band go that easily, however. The first encore featured a spine-tingling trumpet solo intro to the iconic Hotel California. The audience were still asking for the more and the band returned a second time for a blistering rendition of Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way, with Walsh sporting a Maori All Blacks cap.

A third request for an encore was granted and the night closed with a deeply poignant and beautiful delivery of Desperado. Was it my imagination, or did Don Henley raise an ironic eyebrow as he sang the line “you ain’t getting no younger”? Whether he did or not, it’s been a long road since the song was first released in 1973. Its power, like The Eagles’, is undiminished.

This was an evening that clearly demonstrated that really great songs (and really great singers and musicians) endure and stand the test of time. It was a privilege to be present to witness The Eagles in action. They truly deserve their super group status.

 

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