All the hits, and more, from re-formed, revitalized AOR megastars, the Eagles.
Release Date: 16th October 2020
Formats: 2CD + Blu-Ray / 2CD + DVD / 4LP
I have to admit that I approached this latest live offering from the Eagles with a certain degree of trepidation. After all, with a catalogue that already includes three previous live albums and at least three Greatest Hits collections, I did ask myself whether a new live album that inevitably includes pristine versions of (nearly) all the hits would really add any further value… Well, I take back my cynicism – the answer to that particular question is a resounding YES, and, in the paragraphs below, I’ll attempt to explain why.
First of all though, a few logistics. This latest live album was recorded at shows that took place over three nights in September 2018 at the Forum in Inglewood, LA County. It’s the first Eagles release to feature Glenn Frey’s son, Deacon and ex-Pure Prairie Leaguer Vince Gill, both of whom slot in seamlessly alongside established members Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B Schmit. The album contains 27 songs – that’s virtually the entire setlist from the shows (only Witchy Woman is absent) and, alongside the obvious hits, there’s a couple of less-anticipated songs and an excellent selection of numbers from the various members’ solo and previous band repertoires – but more of that shortly.
The recording is, as you would expect, crystal clear, but that doesn’t mean that the excitement of the occasion is diminished in any way. Indeed, in these gig-starved times, it’s wonderful to once again sense the anticipation and joy that a live concert can bring and this recording provides that emotion in copious amounts. Deacon Frey’s vocal delivery is discernably different to his father’s, but formidable nonetheless, and his harmony singing alongside Don Henley is marvelous. Only on Already Gone is it possible to perceive that he’s less than comfortable and even then, the perception is minimal. Elsewhere, it’s pleasing to hear that Don Henley’s voice hasn’t aged or deteriorated in the slightest ( although Joe Walsh seemed to be struggling a bit, particularly on In The City – but once again, that’s a minor observation rather that a criticism.) And the audience, needles to say, lap the whole thing up with relish!
The band waste little time in churning out the songs – in most cases, hit follows hit, although there are a few entertaining interludes where each of the band’s principal members (including the new boys) get to engage in dialogue with the audience often to introduce one of their own songs. And those hits – they just keep on rolling: Take it Easy, One of These Nights, Take it to the Limit, Tequila Sunrise, New Kid in Town, Lyin’ Eyes – I could go on – they’re all here and they’re all played and sung faultlessly with Deacon, Don, Timothy, Joe and Vince all getting their turns at the mike.
But it’s perhaps the lesser expected songs and the various solo numbers that mark this particular live album out as something a bit different. The album opens with Seven Bridges Road, a Steve Young song with an awesome 5-piece harmony that was, apparently, originally arranged by Iain Matthews. The song previously saw light of day on the 1980 Eagles Live album and the version included here really sets the scene and builds the excitement for the show to come. Other (slight) surprises in the setlist are the free and easy How Long, from the Long Road Out of Eden album, ‘Ol 55 from On The Border, a stunning version of Jim Capaldi/Paul Carrack and Peter Vale’s Love Will Keep Us Alive that previously featured only on the 1994 Hell Freezes Over live album and Those Shoes from The Long Run, the album that has probably the strongest representation in this show’s set.
As the concert progresses, we’re also treated to a string of songs from the various bandmembers’ solo ventures. First comes Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away from Vince Gill. Introduced as a “Hillbilly Song,” it’s actually an enjoyable strutting rocker that’s quite a departure from the typical Eagles style that, by this point, the listener has settled into. Indeed, the band demonstrates its versatility on each of the “solo” spots – no more so than when Joe Walsh gets to air a couple of James Gang numbers, Walk Away and Funk#49, and his solo showcases Life’s Been Good and the still awesome Rocky Mountain Way. Not to be outdone, Don Henley also chips in with his 1984 hit The Boys of Summer.
The climax to the concert is, obviously, Hotel California, played in on this occasion by a wonderful Mariachi trumpet. On cue, the crowd go bonkers and you can sense their absolute pleasure. Desperado and The Long Run complete the evening and the sense of enjoyment from both band and audience is palpable. It’s clear that a great time was had by all.
So – what’s the value added by this latest addition to The Eagles’ extensive live/Greatest Hits catalogue? Well – I’ve really enjoyed the excitement of a live concert, brought right into my living room, and that’s something, I suspect, that we can all benefit from in these dark times; The Eagles have shown with this release that, despite their lengthy hiatuses, they’ve still got bucketloads of what it takes; These are all great songs and the band have shown that they know exactly what to do with them; But, above all, the album is great fun and it made wish that I’d been there on the night. I don’t think we need any more reasons than that!
Listen to Hotel California, Live at the Forum here: