Last night (Jan. 15), the Eagles glided through the band’s long history of music with an epic three-hour show to commemorate the relaunch of legendary Los Angeles concert venue, the Forum.
After falling out of favor with the advent of the Staples Center in downtown L.A. in the 2000s, the Forum is back after a $100 million renovation (complete with the world’s largest vinyl record on the roof). The arena debuted its bold new look with a six-night stand from the Eagles – whose lineup includes Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. The festivities kicked off with last night’s show.
From its launch in 1967 through the ‘90s, the L.A. Forum was the city’s premiere arena, the longtime home to championship NBA franchise the Lakers that also played host to an impressive list of music titans, including Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin.
Opening with the band members sitting in a circle with acoustic guitars to invoke the “simple rehearsal shack atmosphere of 1971,” as Don Henley said in a recent interview, the first segment of the show was a well-paced retrospective of the band’s humble beginnings.
True to the tour’s “History of the Eagles” moniker, the opening set closely paralleled the popular 2013 Showtime documentary of the same name, chronologically covering the band’s first few full-lengths such as 1973’s Desperado and breakout 1975 collection One of These Nights, alternating between video and onstage introductions detailing the scenarios behind those nascent albums.
The band cruised through breezy early acoustic singles like “Witchy Woman,” “Tequila Sunrise” and “Best of My Love,” the band’s first No. 1 single on Billboard’s Hot 100 back in 1975, which Henley attributed to a female caller requesting the song on a Grand Rapids radio station for setting the wheels in motion.
Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Joe Walsh (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
The opening set ended with 1975 single “Take it to the Limit,” which Frey dedicated to former band member Randy Meisner, who wrote the song, with singer/guitarist asking the crowd to keep Meisner in their prayers, explaining that he’s currently dealing with serious health issues.
Following a brief intermission, the Eagles returned to the stage to blaze through more than a dozen of the band’s hits. Abandoning the chronological structure of the show’s first half, the second set featured classics including “New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane.” The bands ace musicianship made the most of the Forum’s improved acoustics, capturing even the most subtle nuances of the songs.
While Frey and Henley are the obvious creative forces behind the Eagles, it’s guitarist Joe Walsh who is the rock and roll heart and soul of the band, cracking jokes and mugging for the big screens as he whipped out guitar solos, thrilling the crowd with solo hits like “Life’s Been Good” and 1970 track “Funk #49” from his days in the James Gang.
By the time the Eagles rolled around to the band’s magnum opus, “Hotel California,” it was as if the Forum was transported back to 1977, with thousands of lighters held aloft, the smell of marijuana heavy in the air. Much like the famous “beast” of the song’s final verse that refuses to die, the music of the Eagles is destined to live forever.
— Scott T. Sterling, Radio.com