My favorite type of Rock music has typically been of the “heavier” variety, and I have never been particularly drawn to the music from the Eagles. I also suppose that I found their commercial success with mellower tunes somewhat “suspect.”
Nonetheless, I realized that their popularity, which is based upon six hugely successful albums released between 1972 and 1979, deserved my attention. Therefore, I decided to watch the “Eagles Farewell 1 Tour – Live from Melbourne,” a two-DVD set released in 2005 by their own Eagle Recording Company. By this time, I’d already watched their “Hell Freezes Over” DVD from 1994, which was recorded after their 14-year hiatus, beginning in 1980. Despite their impeccable performances of iconic songs, I found that disc to be a bit boring.
The “Farewell 1 Tour” DVD was taken from their concert performances in November 2004. It was a more ambitious affair, sparing no expense to create a show that would please their longtime fans. They performed 30 songs from the Eagles catalog, as well as from the solo catalogs of Don Henley (1947-), Glenn Frey (1948-2016) and Joe Walsh (1947-). Along with bass guitarist, Timothy B. Schmit (1947-), these were the Eagles “proper” on this outing. Frey and Henley were the only two original members from 1971. Walsh (formerly of the “James Gang”) and Schmit joined in 1975 and 1979, respectively.
Of course, there were also numerous additional musicians helping out, including Will Hollis on keyboards and vocals, Michael Thompson on keyboards, accordion and vocals, Scott Crago on drums and percussion, and Stewart Smith on guitar and vocals.
Other contributions were made by two tenor saxophonists (one of whom doubled on alto sax), a baritone saxophone player and a trumpet. These players were dubbed the “Mighty Horns,” and consisted of Greg Smith, Al Garth, Christiaan Mostert, and Bill Armstrong.
For the most part, these performances faithfully adhered to their studio versions, with all of the “i’s” dotted and the “t’s” crossed. Obviously, the vocal element of the show was a high priority, with fine harmonic singing. In fact, “Hole in the World,” a tune penned by Frey and Henley after 9/11 was a very impressive a capella performance. It appears that a lot of rehearsal went into this show!
I found myself enjoying this concert more than I thought I would. After all, these are songs that I (and everybody else of my era) grew up with, for better or worse, and they were impeccably arranged. Even today, the Eagles remain America’s #1 selling band. I guess that there is a certain amount of comfort in watching a first-class show, consisting of familiar songs!
In the bonus interviews, Henley mentioned that he felt the band was playing better than they had back in the 1970’s. Still, I’d like to see a concert from that era; i.e., from “Cal Jam ’74” or thereabouts.
The sound and camerawork were topnotch. Viewers can take comfort in knowing that Frey was the executive producer of these discs.
Interestingly, the band released an album of new material in 2007, their first one since 1979.
I can wholeheartedly recommend this nearly three-hour set to the populace who loves the Eagles catalog of hits. Hardcore fans may gripe a bit about the absence of key members from the early to mid-1970’s, but I suppose that’s a different “can of worms” that can’t be helped, due to legalities and other factors common in the music world. The bottom line is that this set is a fine production.