Eagles offer homeboy props, “Hotel California” at Little Caesars Arena – The Oakland Press
It always resonates when the Eagles play in co-founder Glenn Frey’s hometown – especially since his death in January 2016.
But the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band’s Thursday night March 24 stop at Little Caesars Arena was even more special than usual.
This time around, the cast celebrates their seminal 1976 album “Hotel California,” playing the nine-song set in its entirety and with all the weight a 26-times platinum title deserves. The nearly three-hour (including intermission) 28-song concert began with one of the mysterious “hotel” figures crossing the stage and placing a vinyl copy of the album on a Victrola as the band would start playing the second the needle touched the groove. At the time of side two, another character, this time female, did the same, turning the album around with panache.
And it was… sublime. The Eagles have long had a knack for accurate, record-perfect performances, and playing “Hotel California” was perhaps the best exhibition of that. The sound mixing was flawless, the vocal harmonies were rich – even Don Henley, suffering from a “head cold”, was perfect – and the guitar parts, played by Joe Walsh, Vince Gill and Steuart Smith, were tightly linked. A string orchestra, led by original “Hotel California” arranger Jim Ed Norman, musically copied “Wasted Time,” “Wasted Time (Reprise)” and “Pretty Maids All in a Row,” while “The Last Resort,” which added Detroit’s David Whitfield Choir, was a jaw-dropping moment that required an intermission because apparently nothing could follow that.
Or could he? Henley promised the band would come back and “play everything we know,” and few bands are able to deliver another hour and 50 minutes of wall-to-wall hits like Eagles can, most sounding exactly like the crowd-dominated crowd. Boomers would remember the ’70s. Highlights came and went, from the searing cover of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road” to the scathing guitar heroics of Walsh on “Witchy Woman” and “In the City.” Walsh, as usual, provided the comic relief with his fiery solo hits “Life’s Been Good” and “Rocky Mountain Way”, while bassist Timothy B. Schmit led the way on “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “I Can’t Tell You Why”. .” And the under-time Henley powered the one-two punch of “Desperado” and his own “The Boys of Summer” during the encore.
The show’s semi-secret weapon, however, was Gill. A world-class star before joining the Eagles in 2017, he is playing a bigger role on this tour, especially with Frey’s son Deacon out for unspecified medical reasons. Gills skillfully covered vocals from Glenn Frey on songs such as “New Kid in Town”, “Take It Easy”, “Tequila Sunrise” and “Lyin’ Eyes”, as well as original bassist Randy Meisner on “Try and Love Again” and “Go to the Limit.” And also took on some of the guitar starring, soloing during “Take It Easy” and trading licks with Walsh during The James Gang’s “Funk #49.”
The late Frey got his due from his bandmates at several points throughout the night. After “One of These Nights,” Henley, who formed the band with Frey in 1971 in Los Angeles, told the LCA crowd, “It’s always a bit bittersweet to come play here, but we’re always connected with you. We miss our founder, but his legacy will live on in every song we play for you. Walsh dedicated “Life’s Been Good” to Frey, and before closing the night with “Best of My Love”, Henley asked the fans to sing along and announced that “I’m going to sing this for Glenn”.
And another hometown hero was shouted after “Heartache Tonight” ended the main set, when Henley thanked Bob Seger for helping write the 1979 chart.
It was another high point for the Eagles in a city that understandably has more love for it than most. The songs say you can leave Hotel California anytime you want, but you can never leave, and Thursday’s show certainly raised the question of why you would want to.