This write up is a little late. I apologize. It’s been difficult to try to figure out how to talk about these shows. To be honest, it’s always difficult to write a fresh and unique review of an Eagles show just because the shows are so similar. You all know this, but with the Eagles, you kind of know what you will get going in and most reviews end up sounding similar. Timothy will sound angelic on “I Can’t Tell You Why”, Joe will bring the house down with his rocking numbers late in the show, Henley will continue to amaze with vocals on “One of These Nights” and “Those Shoes” and Glenn….
Well, this time there was no Glenn.
The last time we saw the Eagles, it was at their last public concert in Bossier City, Louisiana. We both have such vivid memories of Glenn that night. As he was leaving the stage, he stopped and flipped a guitar pick right at us. “For you,” he said with a smile and a wink.
The Detroit show on October 27th was our first time seeing the Eagles since that night. It was our first time seeing Deacon and Vince and this new version of the Eagles. We didn’t know what to expect.
Well, that isn’t exactly true. We knew what the show would be like from reports and reviews from previous concerts. We had covered the Classic shows and talked to friends who attended. We knew how they reacted…most of them positively, but we didn’t know what it would be like for us to see the Eagles without Glenn.
A little history before we get to the show. When Glenn passed away, we were sure that was it. Don said it was it on a few occasions. Joe and Timothy talked about how the Grammy tribute was a good ending to it. We looked at our ticket binder with 107 carefully arranged ticket stubs and thought about how that number would never go higher…that it would be stopped at 107 forever, like a watch that breaks, frozen in time after a tragic accident.
When it was announced that the Eagles were going to carry on, we were surprised, and we were a bit taken aback. Henley had made his Deacon Frey comments and then walked them back and now, that was going to be the reality. We were unsure about how to feel. We had felt strongly about the fact that without Glenn there was no Eagles. We really didn’t like the fact that the Eagles were returning in a giant, outdoor festival and we said so here. Our total number of shows remained at 107. When the band started announcing that they would be doing non-Classic dates…just regular shows, we softened a bit. Deacon and Vince had gotten good reviews and our friends assured us that we needed to see this lineup at least once. When a date was announced in Detroit (Glenn’s hometown) and it was on a weekend, we decided to give it a shot.
So how was it?
It was an Eagles show, but it wasn’t.
Everything before the show was familiar. Catching up with longtime friends, eating odd appetizers and enduring blasting music at the VIP party and seeing the edict to “not video with smartphones” taped to the front of our section made it seem like any other Eagles concert.
That changed, though, when the lights went down and the notes of Seven Bridges Road began.
My eyes immediately went to the space on the stage where Glenn should have been and I lost it. The tears came. All night long, I couldn’t help but just miss Glenn.
He wasn’t hunched over his electric piano during “I Can’t Tell You Why”
Nobody inserted the word “much” after “She don’t have to worry….” In Lyin’ Eyes.
Nobody told a joke about Mother being half a word…in Detroit no less.
There were no band introductions.
Glenn didn’t close his eyes and mouth the words to Rocky Mountain Way
He didn’t choose an audience member to count off the 9 bars of silence at the end of Funk ’49.
And I think most profoundly, the band no longer performs “The Long Run”. It just wouldn’t be right.
So, yeah. Glenn was missed and after it was over, we both tried to figure out what we had seen. Was it the Eagles? Was it something else? It was a great concert. The crowd loved it. The lights and screens were stunning. The band members were in great spirts. Timothy waved to the entire audience. Henley smiled and Joe rocked. Vince Gill was really good. We’ll talk more about this in our Nasvhille review, but we believe Don now that he really was one of the only options. Deacon was wonderful as well. He was professional and humble. He put on a show and didn’t look at all out of place. He’s grown into this band. He acknowledged his family in the stands and mentioned his dad. It was joyous and poignant and bittersweet to see him up on that stage. It was a really good show.
Still, though….we still were left wondering…was this the Eagles?
Sitting here now, a week after seeing the show, I think I’ve finally arrived at an answer.
This band has always evolved. They have been country. They’ve been rock. They’ve been something in-between. They have sung about country roads and pickup trucks. They’ve shared songs about casting couches and cocaine. They have never been just one thing. They started as a foursome and along the way, members have come and gone…some willingly and some not so much.
Vince and Deacon are there now. They aren’t there to replace Glenn. They are there to help bring his songs to life. They aren’t doing a Glenn Frey impersonation. When Vince and Deacon sing, they certainly don’t sound like Glenn (despite what the jerk behind us in Nashville kept yelling) but they fit the songs. They make sense. Their singing serves the songs. They bring the lyrics to life and make people happy. That’s the whole point of a rock concert, isn’t it?
So, they aren’t the Eagles that I remember. They are the Eagles we have now.
Watching the show, I didn’t get a sense that this was a money grab like we initially wondered after the Classic shows were announced. There was nothing cynical or methodical about it. The guys on stage were having fun. They have a tremendous amount of respect for each other as musicians. They have a tremendous amount of respect for their legacy and for Glenn. Even though he wasn’t physically on stage with them, he was there in their comments. He was there in a bigger than life picture. He was there in the likeness of Deacon (and my god, the kid stands and moves like Glenn. It is eerie) and I think he was there in the hearts of everyone in that room. There was a moment near the end of the show when Don just looked over at Deacon and beamed with pride…like you could imagine his dad would. That’s when I knew that I had to respect their decision. That’s when I knew that it was okay.
These ideas further crystalized when we saw the band play in Nashville two nights later. That will be coming in part 2 of this review.