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London, 02 Arena, 23 March 2008

Under two years since their last tour of the UK, the Eagles were back in town unexpectedly soon to promote Long Road Out of Eden, their triumphant (and excellent) first all new album in nearly three decades, but the sense of occasion was less than overwhelming. On an Easter Sunday the crowd was a third empty, and those present seemed extremely subdued.

A low key opening did not help; there was nothing wrong with the quality of newies How Long, Busy Being Fabulous, I don't Want to Hear any More, and Guilty of the Crime, but the sound was pitifully quiet and the songs responded to with utter indifference. Even their attire did not help: never the most animated of performers, the Eagles choice of dark suits and ties and white shirts made them appear even older.

Don Henley could have passed for a presidential candidate, Glenn Frey a Michigan car salesman, and Joe Walsh bore the eccentric air of a professor or even William Hartnell, the original Dr Who. A lone trumpeter then heralded a far too early rendition of Hotel California, though I was impressed by the twin solo of Joe and session man Stuart Smith (who handled more than his fair share of solos, especially on their earlier more country flavoured work).

Familiar hits and familiar intros (Glenn dedicating Lyin' Eyes to his first wife 'Plaintiff') followed, but the first half of the set only really sparked into life as Joe belatedly rocked out during In the City and a horn section featured prominently both for that and The Long Run which concluded the first set.

The second set opened as per usual with the band perched on stools for a variety of acoustic numbers, many from 'Eden', before the title track and Glenn's Someday (owing much to his solo hit Smugglers Blues) began to crank up the tempo.

Ironically, despite highlights like Witchy Woman, it was solo songs which had the most impact- beginning with Joe's Walk Away. Both his solo hit Life's Been Good, during which his 'helmet cam' belatedly roused the crowd, and Don's Dirty Laundry with a satirical video about trashy TV and tabloids, reminded me that the Eagles have always had a wry take on the excesses of fame.

Joe dipped even further into his past with the James Gang's Funk 49, and at long last their rockier hits Heartache Tonight and Life in the Fast Lane belatedly stirred the crowd into life. Take it Easy and Desperado were predictable but enjoyable encores, though I could not help wishing that 'California' had been saved until the end.

Their playing, and the lead vocals and harmonies of Don, Glenn and Timothy B Schmidt were as immaculate as ever, bit not only do Eagles shows not come cheap, but they lack a rock'n'roll edge both on stage and in the audience. See these legends once, but then consider whether you're better off at home with their DVD.


Review by Andy Nathan

Album review


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