When Joe Walsh performed his solo hit “Life’s Been Good” during the Eagles’ first show back at the L.A. Forum in more than three decades on Wednesday night, he made a small but significant change to the lyrics that perfectly summed up the band’s enduring appeal: “Everybody’s so different, we haven’t changed.”
And aside from having a few more years under their belts, he’s right. The band — which formed in 1971, broke up in 1980, and reunited in blockbuster fashion in 1994 — is in top form, still nailing their signature rich harmonies and wailing guitar solos. But before bringing out the big guns the show started small, with only founding members Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon sitting on stools with their guitars and telling stories about the early days.
Following the nostalgic acoustic set, Frey asked the crowd, “Do you like California country?” The trio was then joined by a backing band — including Timothy B. Schmit, who started playing with the Eagles in 1977 during the Hotel California Tour — for “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (check out the appropriate SoCal sunset that backed the band in the photo above). But there was still one missing piece: Walsh, who took over for Leadon in 1975, was needed for the haunting guitar strains of “Witchy Woman.”
From there, it was basically like hearing The Eagles Greatest Hits live, starting with “Tequila Sunrise,” “Already Gone,” “Best of My Love,” and “One of These Nights,” and going into intermission with “Take It to the Limit,” on which Frey took over lead vocals for original guitarist Randy Meisner. It was hard to keep track of all the band members throughout the night, considering they constantly swap lead vocal duties, plus Frey switches between guitar and keyboard, and Henley frequently pulls double-duty, singing from behind the drum kit. The band has no true frontman, so their show feels like a team effort.
And nowhere was that team feeling more apparent than in the highlighting of Walsh’s solo work and his songs with his pre-Eagles band, the James Gang — although I have to admit, I was a little bummed that we didn’t get any Henley or Frey solo hits too. I would have loved to hear the whole band on “Boys of Summer” or “Dirty Laundry.” But when it comes to the night’s set list, there was little to complain about: Just when I thought they were skipping my childhood-favorite Eagles song “Take It Easy,” they kicked off a second encore with it, and they closed the show on a quiet-but-impactful note with “Desperado.” Watch video of “Hotel California” from the first encore below:
Wednesday’s concert marked the reopening of the L.A. Forum after a $100 million renovation, which included adding the world’s largest record — a re-creation of the Eagles’ Hotel California — to the venue’s roof. “It’s about the only facelift I care for in Hollywood,” Frey joked onstage about the Forum’s new look. The Eagles have a lot of history with the venue: They played multi-night stints there in 1975, 1976, and 1979, and their six-show residency (which continues Friday night and goes through next Saturday, Jan. 25) was a perfect pick to reintroduce the onetime home of the Lakers.
The full set list for Wednesday’s Eagles show at the L.A. Forum:
“Train Leaves Here This Morning”
“Peaceful Easy Feeling”
“Best of My Love”
“One of These Nights”
“Take It to the Limit”
“Pretty Maids All in a Row”
“I Can’t Tell You Why”
“New Kid in Town”
“Love Will Keep Us Alive”
“In the City” (Joe Walsh)
“Life’s Been Good” (Joe Walsh)
“The Long Run”
“Funk #49″ (James Gang)
“Life in the Fast Lane”
“Take It Easy”
“Ricky Mountain Way” (Joe Walsh)