Photos by Barry Fisch
As summertime stadium-size rock concerts continue to thrive so “classic” bands and musicians can continue to earn a steady stream of revenue, this gathering of rock acts was a difficult ticket to pass up. Similar to the “Classic West” concert at Dodger Stadium a few weeks earlier, the home of the New York Mets baseball team, Citi Field, hosted the “Classic East” version. First-day artists were the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and headliners the Eagles. This, along with their “Classic West” performance, was the first time the Eagles have played live since the untimely passing of co-founder Glenn Frey. This new version of the Eagles adds Deacon Frey (Glenn’s son and spitting image of his father circa 1970s), and guitarist singer/songwriter Vince Gill.
In front of a huge on screen image of the New York City skyline, the Eagles took the stage opening with “Seven Bridges Road.” With the five key band members lined up in front of the stage playing acoustic guitars, the vocal harmonies were so perfect it was like experiencing a touch of Heaven in a baseball park setting. This followed with Joe Walsh’s usual question to the audience of “How Ya Doin’?” then introduced Deacon to the crowd who immediately launched into a version of the hit “Take It Easy.” The hits then just kept on coming throughout the two-and- one-half hour set. These songs still hold up quite well over 40 years later. Everybody from all generations seems to know them (even the ballpark security guards were singing along). It’s easy to see why the album “Eagles’ Greatest Hits” is still to this day one of the greatest all-time selling albums in the known universe. In addition to the usual Eagles hits, to add to the hometown advantage, Don Henley added his song “In A New York Minute” to the set. A couple deep album tracks were “Those Shoes” from the album “The Long Run,” and a wonderful version of the Hotel California album closer “The Last Resort,” complete with the addition of a string and horn section.
Vince Gill is quite the addition to this new version of the Eagles. One might think he has always been in this band, yet this was only his second gig with them. Besides adding more depth to the harmonies (and there’s lots of harmonies with these guys), his lead vocals on “Take It To the Limit,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Lyin’ Eyes” (complete with unsolicited audience sing-a-long on the choruses) and others fell perfectly into place, still sounding like the Eagles. Timothy B. Schmit introduced his vocal performance of “I Can’t Tell You Why” as the first song he brought to the Eagles when he joined them.
For most of the set there were a total of nine musicians on the stage. This includes the wonderful guitarist Steuart Smith, who plays perfect note-for-note renditions of lead guitar licks off the records, both from before he joined the band in 2001, and since.
During the first three quarters of the set, other than harmonies and guitar, there was little heard from Joe Walsh, but then he was let loose with a version of “In the City” which really got the 40,000-plus audience on their feet. Walsh then moved it up to the next level with more favorites…”Rocky Mountain Way,” a horn section arranged rendition of his James Gang classic “Funk #49,” and more of his Eagles era hits. The evening came to a close with the expected (yet heartfelt) Don Henley vocal of “Desperado,” the first song he ever wrote with Glenn Frey, beautifully done with string section intact.
It was clear this version of the Eagles needs to continue. With impeccable harmonies and musicianship all night long, it would be a shame for it to end after this year. There’s at least one more show. The “Classic Northwest” concert takes place end of September in Seattle with the Eagles headlining once more. If you have the chance, don’t miss it!