I found out on Friday afternoon that I would be attending a concert the next night. And that concert? The EAGLES with special guest JD & the Straight Shot. Are you kidding me?? I never get this lucky. I’ve never been caller number nine, or the one millionth customer, so this was like getting a Golden Ticket to the Wonka Factory. After a day of pinching myself, it was off to the show.
I arrived at the American Airlines Center about five minutes before showtime to check out JD & the Straight Shot. Now, I’m New York born and raised and lived a good chunk of my life on Long Island, so I’m not exactly a fan of how the Dolans have handled Cablevision or the Knicks for that matter. And I was prepared to totally hate the band. But a funny thing happened. They’re pretty damn good live! They play a style that I can only best describe as blues with some New Orleans roots to it and a dash of Zydeco. It’s different, yet familiar, and there are some good musicians in that band.
They opened with a very tongue-in-cheek song called “Fall From Grace” that’s pretty self-explanatory. Up next was “Voodoo Stew” from their Midnight Run album, which was to me, the high point of their set. There weren’t a lot of people inside yet, but those who did made their appreciation known. “Holy Water” from the soundtrack to the film Lawless soon followed and that seemed to rouse some people. You could see light bulbs turning on over people’s heads like, “Hey dude! I know that song!” They also did a Little Feat tune, “Let It Roll”. I hadn’t heard Little Feat since my junior year of high school in my girlfriend’s father’s van!
As it turns out, JD & Co. also have the theme song for the AMC show Hell On Wheels on their resume. This is a show that has been on my list to check out, and after their performance of “Can’t Make Tears” I can only imagine how good it will be. All in all I have to admit it. I came away impressed and raced over to the merch table to pick up a CD.
After about 30 minutes it was time for The Eagles. Now this was a very different way to open a concert, but it was SO cool. The stage setup was sparse with some low hanging lights, and Don Henley and Glenn Frey came out from behind a big black curtain on opposite sides of the stage. They sat down and played one of the deeper cuts from Desperado “Saturday Night” before doing kind of a Storytellers thing. Next thing I know, Bernie Leadon comes out to do “Train Leaves Here This Morning” off the first album! Another little story, and as they say his name out pops Timothy B. Schmit right on cue! “Peaceful Easy Feeling “was next which really got the crowd to make some noise, but that was almost a whisper compared to the eruption that took place when Joe Walsh came out for “Witchy Woman”.
With full band in tow, the band played a couple more Desperado classics, “Doolin-Dalton”, “Tequila Sunrise” as well as “Doolin-Dalton/Desperado (Reprise)” much to everyone’s delight. Things had started off kind of quietly, so now it was time to kick it up a notch for “Already Gone”, one of my favorites, then the double whammy of “Best of My Love” and “Lyin’ Eyes” showcasing both Mr. Henley and Mr. Frey at their singing/songwriting best. “One of These Nights” was next and I daresay it sounded as good if not better than the studio version all those years ago. The lush harmonies are just mind-blowing. Closing out the first set was the whole band singing on “Take It to the Limit” which Glenn dedicated to Randy Meisner, who’s having some health problems.
Set Two began almost as inauspiciously as the first one did, Joe Walsh taking over lead vocals for “Pretty Maids All In a Row” from 1994’s Hell Freezes Over album. Then it was time for Mr. Schmit to do what he does best: pour his heart out in song. “I Can’t Tell You Why” is one of my Top Five Eagles songs of all-time and I’d be hard-pressed to find a better performance of it than I did on this night. The man truly has a voice from Heaven, so this was really an evening high point for me. And as if that wasn’t enough, after “New Kid in Town” he stepped up to the mic again to perform ANOTHER of my Top Fives, “Love Will Keep Us Alive”! The setlist was starting to feel like they were reading my mind’s request list.
Now it was time to break out some big guns. A double shot of tunes from The Long Run, a rollickin’ rousing version of “Heartache Tonight” followed by “Those Shoes”. Even though they were coming apart at the seams during the recording, THIS is my favorite Eagles album for some reason, so hearing the songs live was just awesome. AT this point it was time for Joe Walsh to take over not just vocals, but the entire show for a little while. A powerhouse version of “In the City”, then an amped up “Life’s Been Good” had people on their feet and moving. Up till that point we’d been happy to just sit and bask in the beautiful music. Well, Mr. Walsh would have none of that. He’s fun to watch, lemme tell ya!
Don Henley came back to center stage for “The Long Run” singing and moving very animatedly while up there, then they tore into the James Gang classic “Funk #49” Walsh and Frey trading licks back and forth as we in the crowd ate it all up. “Life In the Fast Lane” closed out the official set, but the Eagles weren’t done, not by a long shot. And you should’ve seen the flashlight apps on everyone’s phones, just a sea of them. First encore was “Hotel California”, one of my least favorite songs but it was impossible not to get into it while standing 30 feet away from the band.
For the second, Bernie was back and finally I got to hear “Take It Easy”, another favorite of mine. From the opening strum the roar of the crowd was deafening. One more Walsh classic “Rocky Mountain Way” complete with talk box followed which really brought the house down before the final song of the evening, “Desperado” brought things to an amazing close. Unbelievable. I can’t believe what I witnessed that night. I feel so fortunate. A HUGE thank you to Becky from Big Picture Media for making this happen! I also have to thank Bobby Hitt from Pit Freaks Magazine (check them out!) for hanging with me and for these amazing pictures you see, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say “Hey!” to Brooke and Chuck as well as Chris, the Eagles’ pilot who was there with his lovely mother Barbara, all of whom I just met while I was sitting there by myself. We had a blast sitting and singing together, and this was one of the most unforgettable shows of my life.