For a bunch of guys who introduced themselves to the world singing "Take it Easy," the Eagles have had an exceptionally uneasy history.
Train Leaves Here This Morning
Peaceful Easy Feeling
The 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
Life's Been Good
The Long Run
Life in the Fast Lane
Take It Easy
Rocky Mountain Way
For the current tour, appropriately titled "The History of the Eagles," it has been settled just a little. On Tuesday, the folk-rock legends came to Consol Energy Center with one of its missing pieces back in place.
For the first half, guitar hero Joe Walsh mostly gave way to Bernie Leadon, an original Eagle guitarist who left after the fourth album in 1975 (reportedly having poured a beer on Glenn Frey's head). After a low-key acoustic duet between Frey and Don Henley on "Saturday Night" to open the show -- meant to have the feel of 1971 -- they introduced Leadon for "Train Leaves Here This Morning," a gentle folk song the former Flying Burrito Brothers guitarist wrote with Gene Clark for the first Eagles album.
With the arrival of mellow bassist Timothy B. Schmit, the band, still seated, went electro-acoustic for the better-known "Peaceful Easy Feeling," with Henley tapping out the beat on his acoustic guitar and Leadon flashing his guitar twang.
They stayed in sit-down mode for "Witchy Woman," with Walsh briefly appearing to trade licks with Leadon, and got up for the full stage production on desert ballads "Doolin' Dalton" and "Tequila Sunrise." They hit the rockier groove (that the exiled Don Felder brought to the band) with "Already Gone" with a guitar crew of Frey, Walsh, Leadon and Steuart Smith. Oddly, it rocked on paper more than in real life, partly because this show, as a whole, wasn't very loud.
They stayed in the early '70s through the remainder of the set with songs that best showcase their easy-flowing harmonies: "The Best of My Love" (still sappy), "Lyin' Eyes" (still awesome), "One of These Nights" (sublime Henley falsetto) and "Take It to the Limit" (sent out to Randy Meisner who sang it).
Set two brought us to 1976, the beginning of the Joe Walsh era, so the most offbeat Eagle took his first vocal on the quiet "Pretty Maids All in a Row." The slow-starting set was a mix of the "Hotel California" and "The Long Run" songs -- the lame "New Kid in Town," sleepy "I Can't Tell You Why," upbeat "Heartache Tonight," bluesy "Those Shoes," etc. -- that dominated radio and turned off the now exited Leadon. "Love Will Keep Us Alive," another Schmit offering, dragged so slowly, Frey said jokingly, "We used to call that song 'Love Will Keep Us Awake.'"
Thankfully, late in the set it turned into the Joe Walsh Show, with the brilliant and electrifying "In the City," "Life's Been Good" (hilarious), "Rocky Mountain Way" and his James Gang hit "Funk #49." Thanks again to Henley and Frey for allowing this hard-rock indulgence. (Incidentally, they ditched their own solo hits, like "Dirty Laundry," "The Heat is On" and the great "Boys of Summer.")
They climaxed the show with the biggies, including "Life in the Fast Lane," a jammed-out "Hotel California" and breezy "Take It Easy."
There's talk that this "History" tour might be the last run for the Eagles, but we can hold off on memorializing them. They've said goodbye before, as you'll recall, and it led to hell freezing over. Based on Tuesday's night show, the fingers and voices are working well enough to keep the Eagles in flight for a while, and fans (some of whom may have seen them open here for Procol Harum in 1973, as Frey referenced) will always pack the place for their timeless contributions to rock history.