Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kansas
October 7, 2013
Words By Jeb Wright, Photos by James Glader
Set 1: Saturday Night | Train Leaves Here This Morning | Peaceful Easy Feeling | Witchy Woman
The Eagles returned to the center of the Heartland on a beautiful fall evening in Wichita, Kansas to celebrate their History of the Eagles Live in Concert Tour. The sold out event only went to prove how much the middle of America loves and, at times, worships, this band.
Wichita is also the birthplace of Eagles lead guitarist/vocalist Joe Walsh. One can imagine the crowd response when Walsh sang the line, “I was born here in the city” during the song “In the City.” Joe may have moved away at a young age, but his Wichita bloodline is strong, as the town was home to both his parents and grandparents.
The show began, however, with Walsh, as well as everyone but Don Henley and Glenn Frey, off stage. The famous duo simply walked onstage, a stage with no real set, only a black curtain behind them and eight hanging light bulbs above.
Frey commented that the opening section of the show was so that the audience could get the feel of how the band was in 1971. Henley said that back then, they only had one hanging light bulb above them, so they had now “hit the big time’. With that, the pair of musicians strummed acoustic guitars and harmonized the song “Saturday Night” from their 1973 release Desperado.
After the song, the pair began talking about how the band formed. They mentioned how they were background musicians for Linda Ronstadt. When they told her they were forming a band, she recommended guitarist Bernie Leadon from the Flying Burrito Brothers. With that, the baldheaded Leadon entered the stage and joined the other two. He commented on his chrome dome, saying, “I had hair back then. I still do.” With that, he held up a blonde wig before commenting, “Joe Walsh gave that to me…nice guy.” The band, then, went into a song Leaden co-wrote with the late Gene Clark from the Eagles 1972 self-titled debut, “Train Leaves Here This Morning.”
Two more songs, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Witchy Woman” were performed with Leadon for the opening set. For “Peaceful” Frey commented on his love for the band Poco, as former Poco, and long term Eagles bassist, Timothy B. Schmit took the stage. For “Witchy Woman” the hometown hero, Joe Walsh entered, playing electric blues licks over the mainly acoustic version of the classic tune.
Set 2: Doolin Dalton | Tequila Sunrise | Doolin Reprise | Already Gone | Best of My Love | Lyin' Eyes | One of the These Nights | Take It to the Limit
The second set began with the video screen giving a history lesson while the stagehands finished the set up. Henley told how the album Desperado came to be. When he was done with his historical speech, the band performed “Doolin Dalton,” “Tequila Sunrise” and “Doolin Reprise” from the album.
“Reprise" is a forgotten gem and features the original song intertwined with some of “Desperado.” This was a musical treat and a highlight of the evening, with hardcore fans thrilled, and fair weather fans wondering why “Desperado” suddenly had new words.
The rest of the second set featured a chunk of the classic Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) album including “Already Gone,” “Best of My Love,” “One of These Nights” and “Take It to the Limit.” Frey singing the latter was the only moment where original Eagle, and original vocalist of the song, Randy Meisner was missed. However, the song came across great and only the hardcore Eagles fans noticed.
It was a shame that Frey had to scold the crowd to pay attention to the concert instead of texting on their cell phones. A true sign of the times…people missing the show to text people to tell them that they are at the show...
Set 3: Pretty Maids All in a Row | I Can't Tell You Why | New Kid in Town | Love Will Keep Us Alive | Heartache Tonight | Those Shoes | In the City | Life's Been Good | The Long Run | Funk 49 | Life in the Fast Lane
After a short intermission, The Joe Walsh Show began. This set would start off with Joe’s only lead vocal from 1976’s classic Hotel California, “Pretty Maids All in a Row.” This song is left off every Greatest Hits album, yet it is one of the most emotional tunes on the album.
Walsh, would have to wait to completely steal the third set, however, as he gave way to his band members for two songs sung by Schmit (“I Can’t Tell You Why” and “Love Will Keep Us Alive”) and one of the band’s biggest tunes, “New Kid in Town” with lead vocals handled by Glenn Frey. After those tunes, however, other than Frey sneaking in to announce his version of writing a Beach Boys song, “Heartache Tonight,” which was sung aloud by the crowd, and had everyone on their feet, the set belonged to Walsh and neither he, his band mates, nor the crowd seemed to mind.
Walsh punished his Talk Box, a tube which he places in his mouth that allows him to manipulate the sounds of the guitar, on the song “Those Shoes.” This deep album cut from 1979’s The Long Run, is a song that shows the Eagles could get down and dirty and rock their asses off with the best of them. Name another band in the history of rock music that has a song with a dual Talk Box duel between guitarists?
Walsh, who was the only band member to play any of his solo material, was literally bounding and hopping across the stage as he smacked out “Life’s Been Good.” Don Henley slipped “The Long Run” in next, to thunderous applause, before Walsh and Frey stood toe-to-toe jamming out blues licks which culminated in Walsh reminding Frey why he is the lead guitarist of the Eagles. After a lightening flash lick that had Frey smiling and backing away, Walsh pumped out the bah-bah-bah-bah bah, bamp-bamp-bamp of the James Gang 1970 classic “Funk 49.”
Walsh had fun, said he was glad to be home and did a call and response with the crowd that included everything from the Big Bopper’s “Helloooo Baaaaaby” to a grunt to a ‘yoo-hoo’ after which he said, “That one didn’t work so well.” The main set of the evening ended with one of the band’s best, “Life in the Fast Lane.” Few bands have the catalog that the Eagles do, and as good as this evening had been, the best was yet to come.
Encore 1: Hotel California
The band returned for a blistering performance of “Hotel California,” At this point in the review, we have to give kudos to Steuart Smith on guitar, as he and Walsh brought the house down with their iconic maximum soloing that ends the classic tune. The unofficial Eagle does a great job filling the big shoes of guitarist Don Felder.
Encore 2: Take It Easy | Rocky Mountain Way | Desperado
After a very short break, however, the band returned, once again with Leadon in tow, played the tune that Frey stated, “started this whole thing,” “Take It Easy.”
Any Eagles fan worth his salt knows the band is going to close the show with “Desperado” and most figured it was up next. However, Walsh led the band through a rip-snorting version of his classic tune “Rocky Mountain Way” first. The Talk Box, the band jamming and the crowd on their feet singing was the way for this evening to end. Of course, it wasn’t quite the end, as Henley wound wind it all down with a stirring performance of “Desperado” and then, it was over.
The tour may be dubbed History of the Eagles Live in Concert but this band is far from being history. Historic? Damn right. Classic? Hell, yeah. Iconic? In every sense of the world. History? Fuck that.
These guys are still performing at the top of their game—perhaps better than ever before, as the wild backstage area, once filled with drugs and groupies, has been replaced with the much more mundane food and family.
The Eagles have become master craftsmen and intelligent and inspirational performers. They do what they do and they do it well. They could simply go through the motions, but one feels, after watching this show, that even with their tumultuous history, they realize the music is bigger than any one of them. The have a respect for the music, the past, the present, the fans in front of them, (who paid a lot of hard earned cash to be there), and for each other.
The final bookend is not going to be satisfied with a historic tour. The Eagles could, and should, do one more studio record. We, the fans, need one more. With this band, though, one thing is for sure…one never knows what’s going to happen.
No matter what direction the future holds, this was a great show, by a great band, performing great songs. Having Bernie Leadon back gave it that something special—well, it gave it one more thing that was special. Truth be told, the entire damn evening was something special.
For tour dates please visit www.eaglesband.com