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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2014/10/04
by Bridgid Tatlow

The Eagles, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY- 9/18

When a legendary rock band takes to the stage in a massive arena it is likely for them to engage the audience with a lively spectacle right off the bat. It is a rarity for two founding members to casually take a seat on their amps and road cases to begin the evening. This, however, is exactly what Don Henley and Glen Frey did on September 18th at Madison Square Garden—the single NYC stop on the fall 2014 leg of their History of The Eagles tour

The pair punctuated their two opening tunes—“Saturday Night” and the Dillard & Clark cover “Train Leaves Here This Morning”—with interludes of back-story, a trend that would continue throughout the evening. The History of The Eagles tour, a multi-continent venture that kicked off in the summer of 2013, is more than just a long string of Eagles shows. Rather, the concerts provide an informative and multidimensional look not only into the vast musical repertoire of this renowned band, but a revelation of some of the more intimate moments during their 40-plus year run that helped forge their status and mold them into the famous musicians that they are known as today.

The aesthetic choice to begin the evening in this simple manor reflects the intimate atmosphere that these shows conjure. The Eagles, recognizing their status as aging rock stars, decided to utilize their specific fan base—nostalgic middle aged white people and their children (occasionally)—and cater a tour specifically to them. And, as it turns out, there are a lot of them. The Eagles’ self-aware acceptance of their age and predetermined place within rock and roll history worked out well and the decision to play off of this rather than attempt to relive their glory days provided the show with a sincere vitality and level of excitement.

The next musician to emerge from the rafters was Bernie Leadon, a founding member who—until this History of The Eagles tour—had not played with the band since 1975. Leadon was the co-writer of classic hits such as “Take It Easy”, “Witchy Woman”, and “Peaceful Easy Feeling”—the premiere song that he joined Henley and Frey for on stage at MSG this warm September evening. Leadon, a multi-instrumentalist is also known for his involvement in bands such as Dillard & Clark and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

Seeing Frey and Leadon on stage together brought the longtime Eagles fans in the audience back to Leadon’s infamous split from the troupe in ‘75 when he poured a beer on Frey’s head before walking away for over 30 years. Frey laughs as he tells the audience “we did everything fast in 1975”, although this playful assertion is no joke to those aware of Leadon and Frey’s rocky history. By the fall of 2014, however, the two musician’s rapport (at least on stage) has lightened. The mood is mellow and spirits are high for Frey, Leadon, Henley, and audience members, alike.

Then Joe Walsh takes to the stage following Timothy B. Schmit. The Eagles are fast in action and Walsh is right there in the wing, thunderbird in hand, as “Witchy Woman” begins. The five don’t miss a beat as they render the tune with only a simple drumbeat guiding their timeless voices in perfect harmony.

The rest of the evening followed suit with impressive vocal harmonies standing out as one of the prominent features of the performance. The two sets and double encores were filled with classic tunes such as “Lyin’ Eyes”, “Desperado”, “Hotel California”, “Life’s Been Good”, and “Take It Easy”. The History of The Eagles tour is not a testament to continued long-term musical innovation the way that say, Phish’s summer ‘Fuego’ run may have been. Rather, it is a tribute to the staying power of well-composed and viscerally pleasing rock songs that have and continue to endure and be adored.

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