Eagles, Chris Stapleton
Minute Maid Park
June 15, 2K18
The “unexpected reunion” tour. The “we still know how to record good music” tour. The “we’re celebrating our decades in the business” tour. The Eagles might not have been working from a set playbook, but everything they’ve done since they reunited has felt calculated. Even a band with a wild man like Joe Walsh on the team knows the value of making the right moves.
So what then is this tour, the first following the death of Glenn Frey? It’s by no means a “memorial for a friend,” although they certainly do pay their respects to one of the founding members of the group. Watching as the setlist rolled out, as members of the group took their turn in the spotlight, it became clear what the goal of the tour is; this is the “this is who we are now and you should keep paying to see us” tour. And to their credit, they do it in pretty impressive passion.
The new additions to the crew fit in perfectly. Deacon Frey may not be his father, but what he lacks in stage charisma he makes up for in his ability to replicate some of the things his father did so well. He was the first of the group to get a moment to shine, taking lead vocals on “Take It Easy,” which he handled like a champ. His voice sounded great all night, and he fits in with the rest of the voices pretty much perfectly.
I gained a whole new respect for Vince Gill over the course of this show. So much so that I hope the Rodeo takes a good long look at bringing him in at some point in the next few years. He fits in so well with the rest of the Eagles it seems like he was made to be in the group. He also got an incredible ovation when he was introduced, rivaling the reaction the crowd had when the band first stepped out on stage.
But the star of the night, with no disrespect to Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit, was Joe Walsh. Having seen him live now, I have to say I don’t feel like Walsh really gets the credit he deserves for being such an interesting guitar player and songwriter. The textures and melodies he’s able to pull out of his guitar feel almost unreal, and he does it with an energy that feels completely at odds with the rest of the band yet vital for the whole thing to work.
The Eagles are such a weird band. Yes, there are bands that have had more radical changes from song to song, album to album, but given their position as one of the biggest selling acts of all time, the fact that songs like “Take It Easy,” “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” and “Those Shoes” all exist in the same setlist is just wild. In the past, it seemed like every time the Eagles hit the road it might be the last time you might get to see them. Not so much this time around. The Eagles are still alive and kicking, doing what they do and doing it at a high level. Why stop now?
So, How Was The Opener?: Chris Stapleton is a star. Sure, not every seat was occupied when he took the stage, but it was damn near close. Yes, the crowd was there to see the Eagles, but Stapleton is such a solid performer that the crowd gave him a standing ovation as he left the stage, which is something rarely seen at a concert. I don’t know if the Eagles really needed someone as big as Stapleton to help push tickets, but it made for a really great double bill. “Outlaw State of Mind” is one of the best live songs you can experience right now, and I wish someone would lock Stapleton and Metallica in a room together to see what they’d come up with.
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Personal Bias: This show was a good reminder that it’s not so much that music taste changes as that it evolves. Five years ago I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this show as much as I did, and would definitely have been in the chorus of “Eagles are a
The Crowd: Rarely do you get to go to a show where so many upper-class white people try to sneak into better seats.
Overheard in the Crowd: “It was a nightmare,” said a woman in front of me, about her adventure to the ladies room. Fun fact: the best time to go to the restroom during an Eagles set is during the guitar solo at the end of “Hotel California.”
Random Notebook Dump: The human ability to compartmentalize never ceases to amaze me. Right before “Heartache Tonight” kicked in, a man in my section had a medical emergency. They cleared out the two rows around him, got him in a wheelchair, and took him away. Did the people around stop partying and shaking their asses? Of course not. I’m not judging them—I mean, I went back to watching the show after he was gone too—but still, just seemed kind of weird and kind of perfectly predictable at the same time.