REVIEW: Eagles offer Hotel California vacation to Edmonton fans

The band’s Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley and Vince Gill delivered impressive vocal work and pitch-perfect versions of their most beloved songs to a packed Rogers Place on Tuesday night.

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The eagles remain, and we can take comfort in that.

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Despite being well over 70, they are the men of their time and place, providing nostalgia for audiences hammered by nearly three years of bad news.

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“Our mission tonight is to give you about three hours of vacation time from all the headlines,” frontman and drummer Don Henley said exactly in the middle of the show at Rogers Place, and they did so by rewinding the clock up their most beloved album, 1976’s Hotel California.

On top of that, they drew a line in the sand by playing the band’s greatest hits, only allowing a handful of equally old Joe Walsh numbers into the mix. Are they living in the past? You are right, they live in the past!

Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh performs at Rogers Place during the Hotel California 2022 Tour on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.
Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh performs at Rogers Place during the Hotel California 2022 Tour on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

They’re no amateurs, though, and they have a sly sense of humor about the whole thing, starting with an older man walking slowly but deliberately across the stage to a record player where he carefully put the first side of the album. From there, the group was revealed, launching into the instantly recognizable title track. The public, rammed to the rafters, burst into cheers; you could say it really tied the piece together.

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Now, it’s not all about the Vietnam War, but if you look online, a few people suggest the song itself is a metaphor for it. Others see it as an allegory of the music industry of the time: drugs, self-destruction, greed. Where’s the money, you ask me? It was probably all in the making of this song, which Henley himself suggests they peaked on.

New Kid in Town was next, with Vince Gill taking over lead vocals from original singer Glenn Frey, who died in 2016. Gill, who is better known in some circles for having all that cowboy stuff in his career as a country superstar, is a fantastic replacement for the much-missed Frey. He can also rip it when he wants, as shown in his solo on Seven Bridge Road.

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Eagles guitarist Vince Gill performs during the Hotel California 2022 tour stop at Rogers Place on September 20, 2022.
Eagles guitarist Vince Gill performs during the Hotel California 2022 tour stop at Rogers Place on September 20, 2022. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

The elegiac Wasted Time, with its accompanying cover that begins on side two, brought in local classical musicians for the strings as well as Edmonton’s own Chronos Vocal Ensemble. From there, all the deep cuts were beautifully rendered, including Walsh’s Pretty Maids All in a Row and Henley’s environmental complaint The Last Resort. They could have tossed those songs to the hottest numbers, but these men did their homework.

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After a short hiatus, they were back for Seven Bridges Road, a showcase for the band’s consistently impressive vocal work. They then applied the brakes and diverted into easy listening territory. Unlike many hard rock bands of the time, the Eagles were not nihilists, rather they were drawn to soporific feelings such as Take it Easy and Peaceful Easy Feeling, songs that highlighted the band’s gift. for melody and harmonies. These are tunes that have never gone away; after hearing the band’s pitch-perfect releases on Tuesday night, you might also have heard at least one of these songs on the cab ride home.

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Did they play it all in the nearly three hours they held the stage at Rogers Place? Well, not everything. A number of Frey’s tracks were understandably left out, but the inclusion of Witchy Women, a beautiful string-laden Take It to the Limit with Gill providing a thrilling lead, and the stomping Heartache Tonight not only kept people happy , but have probably led to some tears of remembrance for those whose times are forever marked by these songs. Say what you will about brevity, these players certainly know how to entertain a crowd throughout a long night.

The Eagles aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t deny the professionalism and years of radio dominance. On a scale of one to eight, we’ll mark this concert an eight.

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Where: Rogers Square

When: September 20

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Nicholas E. Crittendon