Live Review: Eagles in Uncasville, CT
The nearly three hour extravaganza of popular '70s and classic rock era favorites performed during the "History of the Eagles," concert Thursday (7/18) at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena was as much a celebration of enduring songwriting as it was about exceptionally versatile live musicianship.
Though they've played most of these songs thousands of times dating back to their first meeting in 1971, band co-founders Glenn Frey and Don Henley managed to keep almost every one of the 27 numbers they are performing during this retrospective sounding fresh and vital.
With a few amps, touring cases and a small drum kit dotting the apron, that older but still-dynamic duo shuffled on stage to open the show and set the mood by crooning the lovely "Saturday Night," before welcoming old-time Eagles alumni Bernie Leadon to the stage. Leadon remained contributing harmonies and precise recreations of key guitar hooks for most of the remainder of the first set.
Joe Walsh, a more recent alumni of the band, was onstage for much of the first set as well. And while he was obviously a focal point, Walsh did not contribute too many fireworks either in terms of guitar work or material for most of his first-set stint.
Walsh and Leadon were both frequently outshone by Steuart Smith, who replaced Don Felder during a switch in band personnel in 2001. Smith has been a Eagle and a backing player for Henley's and Frey's solo shows for nearly 15 years, so understandably he exhibited a high talent for also recreating the recorded sound of the Eagles, especially on their pre- "Hotel California" material.
That first set dwelled heavily on the earliest Eagles material, and the bulk of their first greatest hits package was performed, along with a health dose of album cuts from "Desperado," "One of These Nights," and "On the Border." The audience got to sit back and enjoy deeper cuts like "Doolin-Dalton," and the "Doolin-Dalton/Desperado Reprise," along with a beautiful rendition of "Tequila Sunrise," "Best of My Love," "Lyin' Eyes" and the set-ending "Take It To The Limit."
If the Eagles first set was spiced up by Leadon, the second set essentially belonged to Joe Walsh, who opened with his plaintive ballad, "Pretty Maids All In a Row." And while Henley, Frey and even bassist/vocalist Timothy B. Schmit could have squeezed in a solo hit or two, they chose to tribute Walsh who subsequently performed four of his own non-Eagles songs scattered throughout.
He performed "In The City," his James Gang hit "Funk 49," "Life's Been Good" and "Rocky Mountain Way," as an encore, much to the delight of the fans who apparently were happy to trade a few newer Eagles tunes for a handful from the so-called "master of the Stratocaster."
Every show has to have its low points as well, so it was interesting that at about the halfway point of the show, Frey was wanting to pick up the pace after four preceding ballads. Unfortunately, "Heartache Tonight," which could have been a rocking resurrection, kind of fell flat on its subdued introductory verse.
On the other hand, the balance of the second set was on fire, with the aforementioned Walsh numbers interspersed with Frey taking to the piano for "New Kid In Town," and the stellar "I Can't Tell You Why," which was Steuart's best song of the night. The second set also featured "Hotel California," "Love will Keep Us Alive," with Schmit's soaring tenor lead vocals, "The Long Run," and "Life In the Fast Lane."
"Those Shoes" was another unexpected but well-played tune from the later part of the Eagles hit-machine era. But the band returned to its freshman and sophomore effort to close the show as Frey belted out "Take It Easy," and Henley took the spotlight to send folks home with the monster ballad, "Desperado."
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