Last Saturday night, February 25th, I saw the Eagles at the Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert, California. (It’s a brand new multi-use arena that serves both as the home of the newly-created Coachella Valley Firebirds hockey team – yes, we now have a hockey team in the desert! – and as a major venue for music concerts and other large events.) I had the good fortune to be gifted a ticket to the sold-out show by a neighbor who had an extra, and believe it or not, it was my very first time seeing the legendary folk-rock band. As a legacy act who’s been around more than 50 years, seeing them live at this point comes with a bit of trepidation, as we wonder how well they’ll perform and sound, given their ages. Well, I needn’t have worried, as they sounded fantastic! There was no opening act, just them, who played for three hours.
The Eagles, who now consist of founding member Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh and Vince Gill, along with former member Deacon Frey (Glenn’s son), who rejoined the group for this tour, actually began what has been dubbed their “Hotel California Tour” back in 2020. But as Wren Graves sardonically noted in Consequence Sound, the Eagles are “lurching closer to the self-fulfilling prophecy that while they might be able to check out any time they like, they can never leave“, as they keep extending the tour by adding more dates. The most recent leg of their tour began in Portland, Oregon on February 19th, and includes shows in 11 cities, wrapping up on April 7th in Newark, New Jersey. (You can book tickets for remaining shows, if they’re even available, here.) Interestingly, they played two nights here in Palm Desert, the second of which I attended.
The show was divided into two parts, the first of which was their performance of the entire Hotel California album. The proceedings began with a rather odd bit of theatrics involving a very old-looking man walking slowly across the stage holding a vinyl copy of Hotel California, then placing it on a turntable and dropping the needle, whereupon the band began playing the title track. (The album’s flip side was later handled by a sexy blonde woman in a slinky black dress. The meaning or symbolism of these two characters wasn’t clear to me, but perhaps the woman represented the woman alluded to in the title track.)
The Eagles, along with a cadre of supporting musicians, including another back-up drummer Scott Crago, who Henley cheekily noted “helped keep him from having cardiac arrest“, played each song in the same order as they appear on the album. To faithfully recreate the lusher moments of “Wasted Time,” “Pretty Maids All in a Row,” and “Last Resort”, they enlisted members of a couple of Southern California orchestras, as well as a choir from Cal State Fullerton (if my memory serves me correctly).
After a short intermission, they returned to play, as Henley put it, “everything we know.” And did they ever! After beginning their second set with “Seven Bridges Road”, Henley then welcomed Deacon Frey to the stage (Deacon joined the Eagles after the death of his father in 2016 but left the group last year in order to focus on his solo career). To riotous cheers, he launched into a rousing rendition of “Take It Easy”, one of Glenn’s signature songs. (Both Deacon and Vince Gill handled the songs formerly sung by Frey.)
Filming videos of any portion of the concert was strictly forbidden, however, I managed to record part of the song without getting caught. But moments after I stopped filming with my smart phone, an usher instructed the man sitting in front of me to cease his own filming. I uploaded my video to YouTube, but after hearing and reading about people having their videos taken down and even being banned from YouTube altogether (I don’t know whether or not it’s true, but I read somewhere that Henley employs a staff of 60 people assigned to scour the internet for unauthorized content), I deleted my video.
Frey followed with the beautiful “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, which has long been one of my personal favorite Eagles songs, then the band played the dark and mysterious classics “One of These Nights” and “Witchy Woman” two more favorites of mine. Joe Walsh then took center stage for the first of his songs “In the City”. While a few of the people I went to the concert with thought his songs were the weakest part of the show, I loved every minute of them. Not only is he an incredible guitarist, he’s also a terrific showman with a great sense of humor. He made us all laugh when he quipped “I loved my 20s in the 70s, but my 70s in the 20s, not so much.”
I found this assessment of Walsh by Robert Ham in his review of the Portland concert for Consequence Sound that’s so on point, I’ll simply quote it in its entirety: “The 75-year-old’s pact with Satan, which has helped him survive all manner of chemical dependencies and much personal turmoil, seems very much in place. His face was still an amoebic mass, warping and distending in response to his aqueous guitar solos and his own vocals, but what came out of it was lucid and strong. Walsh took an impressive amount of the spotlight, knocking out his Hotel California song, “In the City,” and a trio of tunes from his life outside Eagles with a supremely joyful countenance. If, at times, it looked like he was pulling it all out from deep within his core as he sang “Life’s Been Good” and “Rocky Mountain Way,” his performance never diminished.”
And just look at his gorgeous red guitar!
Vince Gill was a pleasant surprise for me. I’ve never much followed his country music career, though I’ve liked what I heard by him. But his vocal style fits the Eagles’ sound very well, and wow, what an amazing guitarist he is!
The hits kept on coming, with even Henley’s great solo song “The Boys of Summer” making an appearance. The guys wrapped up with “Heartache Tonight”, then left the stage to thunderous applause, only to return for a four-song encore that began with a blistering performance by Walsh of his classic “Rocky Mountain Way”. I loved the special visual effects for his performance, which showed him encased in flames:
They concluded their encore set with “Desperado”, “Already Gone”, and a heartfelt performance of “The Best of My Love”, which Henley and the band dedicated to America in this time of bitter divisiveness and discord. It was a fitting and emotional end to a magnificent show, where the feelings of love for the Eagles by everyone there were strongly palpable.
I apologize for the shitty quality of my photos. My smart phone takes decent videos, but lousy photos when the lighting’s poor.
Set 1 (Hotel California)
- Hotel California
- New Kid in Town
- Life in the Fast Lane
- Wasted Time
- Wasted Time (Reprise)
- Victim of Love
- Pretty Maids All in a Row
- Try and Love Again
- The Last Resort
Set 2 (Greatest Hits)
- Seven Bridges Road (Steve Young cover)
- Take It Easy (with Deacon Frey)
- Peaceful Easy Feeling (with Deacon Frey)
- One of These Nights
- Take It to the Limit
- Witchy Woman
- In the City (Joe Walsh song)
- I Can’t Tell You Why
- Tequila Sunrise
- Lyin’ Eyes
- Life’s Been Good (Joe Walsh song)
- The Boys of Summer (Don Henley song)
- Funk #49 (James Gang song)
- Heartache Tonight
- Rocky Mountain Way (Joe Walsh song)
- Already Gone (Jack Tempchin cover) (with Deacon Frey)
- The Best of My Love (with Deacon Frey)