11 August 2001
Invesco Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Two days ago, I had no idea I'd be writing this review. I intended to get a ticket for this show, but it had sold out before I got around to it. Fortunately, a co-worker offered me an extra ticket, and a ride to the show.
Besides being able to see this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band for the first time ever, I was one of the privileged 50,000+ able to attend the first ever event at the new mile high stadium in Denver. Yes, even before the first Broncos game. The new glass and steel contraption is dubbed "Invesco Field at Mile High", carefully crafted to forge a political balance between the company facilitating a large portion of the capital, and the people of the Denver metro area who insist on heritage. Denver doesn't want to tear down the old stadium until they are sure the new one works. Besides parking being a 30 minute hassle, the amorphous-looking bowl seems to get the job done. Because of the inherent tightness of downtown Denver, they had to build it literally a handful of feet away from the old 60s-era symmetric saucer, which, as I write this, sits like a perfectly good sofa that has all of a sudden gone out of style.
The first real test of the new stadium occurred when, after all but a few attendees arrived, the place erupted in a low-pitch roar of foot-stomping. I turned to my co-worker and expressed how nice it was to have known him. But, the stadium passed.
The ticket stubs advertised a start time of 7 P.M., but, given the first-time-around virginity of the traffic and parking challenges facing this new mega-theatre, the de-facto 8 P.M. start by the promoters was no surprise to the patrons. Some dude, whom I don't remember, opened with a 30 minute speech that most everybody couldn't hear. Then, four large video monitors played reels of Broncos video in obvious hopes to hype attendance at future sporting events.
Enough already. Let's talk about the Eagles. This Denver event was special in that it was one of only two U.S. dates on their 2001 world tour. Don Felder is gone, fired earlier this year by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, for irreconcilable differences. The divorce is in the courts right now, as Felder believes that he has a right to the name and profits of this supergroup. Nevertheless, he's not on the road with them. So, officially, the Eagles are now Henley, Frey, former POCO-bassist Timothy B. Schmit, and madman Joe Walsh.
The foursome walked onstage right at dusk, and from the start, Joe Walsh stood out, wearing bright red slacks and a maroon sport jacket. I think it's safe to say that he was largely responsible for pushing the Eagles into mega-superstardom, when he joined in the mid-70s. Him joining the Eagles was like Hagar joining Van Halen. Without him, the Eagles wouldn't have the hard edge, giga-popularity, and spice that they have now. The man is a genius cleverly disguised as insane.
Schmit, Frey, Henley, and Walsh each walked out with wireless microphones and harmonized on "Seven Bridges Road", to a taped playback of the acoustic guitar track (Felder?) accompanying their 1980 hit version of the song. The setlist from this point on was very, very conservative. Each of the 30 songs performed tonight were recognizable. For instance, the very next two songs were major Billboard hits in their heyday, "Long Run" (1979) and "New Kid In Town" (1977).
Glenn Frey tickled the ivories on "Wasted Time", and subsequently took center stage to strum on "Peaceful Easy Feeling". Though I like Don Felder, I must say that tonight I sensed that, by being pruned as a band, leader Glenn Frey seemed more comfortable as the spokesman for the band, as he was in 1972. Walsh sang another selection from the Hotel California album, "Pretty Maids All In A Row". Schmit then sang a well-received "Love Will Keep Us Alive".
One pleasant surprise this evening was the inclusion of a decent amount of solo material. Henley sang "Boys Of Summer" about a semitone lower than the top 40 version, likely in the interest of saving his voice.
With bassist Randy Meisner (also a former POCO member) gone since 1977, the pros decided to let Glenn Frey sing "Take It To The Limit" in the key of G, and play competently on piano in accompaniment. It worked.
After "Best Of My Love", and the profoundly adolescent, "Already Gone", the band let Joe Walsh take front and center for a set-stealing "In The City", complete with a four piece brass section. Tonight he appeared much more sober, better in voice, and more likeable than he did during his 1993 Colorado State Fair outing. The four principles, and over a half dozen backing musicians, ended the first set with "One Of These Nights", and a promise by Frey to return in ten minutes.
The second set started with Walsh donning a fisherman's hat, and with two tunes from the best selling album of all time, Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975, "Witchy Woman" and "Lyin' Eyes", and the second of two songs sung by Schmit, his 1980 hit "I Can't Tell You Why". The price of being in a group as successful as the Eagles is that Timothy B. Schmit wasn't able to showcase any of his work as a solo artist or as a eight-year member of POCO.
More solo material. Walsh's "Walk Away", Frey's "You Belong To The City", and two from Henley: "Sunset Grill", which featured new lead guitarist Stewart Smith, and "Dirty Laundry", during which the four Eagles hopped together.
Amidst "Tequila Sunrise" and the #1 "Heartache Tonight", Walsh stole the show with his "Funk #49" and an absolutely raucous "Life's Been Good", during which Walsh yelled, "Whazzup!" His performance during this song was so superbly funny it had Henley and Frey busting up, which is a rare treat. In truth, the Eagles seemed much less uptight, and much more in good spirit than they have in 25 years. I guess selling out a 50,000+ seat venue of $40-$120 tickets has its perks.
"Life In The Fastlane" concluded the set, only in preparation for three more-or-less planned encores. First came "Hotel California", then Walsh's Colorado-friendly "Rocky Mountain Way", and finally a two song encore of the Glenn Frey / Jackson Browne composition "Take It Easy", and "Desperado".
The sound sucked from time to time. This is one of the reasons I've avoided stadium shows for my adult life up to now. I'm very glad I made this exception. I was disappointed in the lack of new material, and lack of even just some obscure material. But, I can't argue against the fact that these guys made some great music tonight.
[***1/2] - Steven T.
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