Live: The Eagles Glide Through the Years at L.A. Forum Revival Show
By Scott T. Sterling
They call it classic rock for a reason.
Last night (Jan. 15), Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and 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.
The time-worn harmonies and even the group’s signature melodic guitar solos of yore are deeply ingrained in the subconscious of anyone who’s spent any time with legacy rock radio.
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.
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 debuting it’s bold new look with a six-stand stand from the Eagles, which kicked off with last night’s show.
Opening with the band members sitting in a circle with acoustic guitars to invoke the “simple rehearsal shack atmosphere of 1971,” as 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, MI, radio station for setting the wheels in motions.
(Rebecca Taylor/MSG Photos)
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, harkening back to their late ’70s heyday when albums like Hotel California (1976) and The Long Run (1979) dominated FM radio playlists and the charts.
Abandoning the chronological structure of the show’s first half, the second set was testament to how the band evolved from their laid back and acoustic beginnings towards the thick studio gloss of tunes like “Those Shoes” 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 Guitarist Steuart Smith particularly shined.
While the audience in the packed arena leaned towards the Baby Boomer generation who made the Eagles stars back in the ’70s, their influence can still be felt in modern music, with Haim cribbing heavily from “Heartache Tonight” (the first song to get last night’s Eagles crowd up on its collective feet) for their single “The Wire.”
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.