The Eagles’ “Hell Freezes Over” reunion tour launch (three odd decades ago) helped usher in the trend of selling tickets for three figures, and steep prices remains a pertinent part of catching the California band live to this day.
Considering the current state of the concert ticket market, maybe Jeff Bridges’ opinion in “The Big Lebowski”
was a warning for the future. But sole remaining founding Eagle Don Henley understands that he doesn’t have many blue collar fans that follow him and the band around the country.
Approximately 100 roadies—including 15 semi-tractor trailer truck drivers—needing a paycheck is only part of the triple-digit ticket prices. Henley takes extra pride in the lights, and bringing “one of the finest sound systems that money can buy,” even taking offense to when fans talk about how great the “house PA” sounded.
On the other hand, it’s no shock that when Tuesday night’s “encore performance” for last year’s Hotel California
tour stop at Amalie Arena went down, about half of the crowd indeed saw this as an encore, rather than a first-time affair.
“We were here just a year and a month ago,”
Henley monotonously recalled. “Our manager said we could come back.”
The Eagles’ first gigs following Glenn Frey’s 2016 passing—which originally sparked the end of the band
—were met with great success, and Henley, along with guitar god Joe Walsh, silky-haired bassist Timothy B. Schmit, and country singer-songwriting legend Vince Gill, all decided to keep the party going by fulfilling an extensive tour originally conceived when Frey was still alive.
Once the entire Grammy-nominated LP was performed note for note in 45 minutes with the locally-comprised “Florida Rock Symphony,” under the direction of Henley’s longtime friend and early Eagles contributor Jim Ed Norman—born in Ft. Myers—a 20-minute intermission ended with “Seven Bridges Road,” seeing Gill, Schmit, Henley, Walsh, and guitarist Steuart Smith harmonize those Steve Young lyrics while standing in a horizontal line.
Last year was not only the first post-Frey Eagles show to go down in Tampa Bay—and the first Eagles show in town period since 2013—but also one of the first ever to not feature any of the Freys. Deacon, who started filling in for his father when the Eagles staged their return in 2017, was ill last year, and actually departed from the band in an effort to evolve as his own artist in the summertime.
And yet, part of me feels like this show was booked so we could get even a small dose of the young Frey we didn’t get last year.
Henley introduced him as a special guest, and before he could make it to the mic to launch into “Take It Easy,” Deaky got a standing ovation. He’s the spitting image of Glenn in the ‘70s, too. As cheesy as it sounds, his long hair and full mustache made it feel like his father had time-travelled from the 1970s to be with us.
As great a Schmit sounded on lead vocals for “Peaceful Easy Feeling” last year, it was beautifully chilling to hear Deacon take on one of his father’s signature songs, though penned by Jack Tempchin. He left the majority of Glenn’s songs to Gill (“Lyin’ Eyes,” “Heartache Tonight,”) and while Gill is an absolute beast who deserves every ounce of praise and respect he’s given—and we totally support Deacon’s decision to be his own musician—it wouldn’t have killed the kid to do leads on “Tequila Sunrise.”
Walsh soon took the mic, and threw out a total non sequitur about an exchange he had with a kid he met in a drugstore once. “I looked at him and he says ‘Why do you look like that?’” he began. “I said ‘I don’t know, I never thought about it. Why do you look like that
Because how else do you introduce a solo career section of the show?
Henley and Walsh were both here for solo gigs as recently as 2017, and let’s get real: Neither of them really need the Eagles to sell out a room these days. Granted, Walsh was an opening act for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers during his last solo stop here
, but considering his aggressive guitar work on “Life’s Been Good,” with a few modernized lyrics thrown in (“They write me emails/Tell me I’m great,”) he could totally sell out Ruth Eckerd Hall, or maybe even the Yuengling Center by himself. He’d even bring Colorado to Florida with “Rocky Mountain Way,” talkbox and all.
Henley tackled his own solo career next, with mega-hit “The Boys of Summer,” co-written by Mike Campbell, followed by Walsh’s “Funk #49” James Gang salute, and Schmit’s smash solo hit…*checks notes* ah, never mind.
For an encore, Henley picked up the mic and twirled its wire around during “Desperado,” and Deacon returned to the stage for set closers “Already Gone” and “Best of My Love,” which Henley “had the privilege of co-writing with Deacon’s daddy,” and dedicated to America as a whole. “In all its insanity and all its glory,” he smirked.
In short, you can bitch and whine about the prices all you want, but at the very least, the Eagles showed Tampa how you really do a career retrospective, in their 51st year as a band, no less. “I’m not sure, but I think we’ve just about got this thing down,” Henley jabbed.
Gee, you think?