Fri, Feb 25, 2011
my paper
On cloud nine with the Eagles

By Jean Tan

ARTIST: Eagles
VENUE: Singapore Indoor Stadium
WHEN: Wednesday

THE Eagles seemed happy to be back on Singapore's "pristine shores" - as the band's founder and singer, Glenn Frey, put it - after a seven- year absence.

And while they may have been a wee bit greyer and wider in girth than before, they obviously hadn't got the memo about slowing down as one gets older.

Sure, there were a few self-deprecating statements thrown in, in reference to their autumn years.

Such as when Frey introduced the bluesy Witchy Woman (1972, off the band's self-titled debut), saying it was written when "the Dead Sea was only sick".

And before launching into the weirdly wonderful Life's Been Good, guitarist Joe Walsh assured the full-capacity audience that "if you're young, you'll probably know this...because you would have heard your mum and dad play it".

The easy banter served only to highlight the chemistry between the band and the crowd, which lapped up their jokes.

As for the music, the Eagles delved happily into their 30-year history, delivering it all - from the melodic country rock of their early days to the more cynical, politically themed offerings from their latest album, The Long Road Out Of Eden (2007).

They didn't disappoint at any turn. How could they, when they made sure that not one of their 28 - yes, 28 - songs sounded like a filler.

There were the opuses of the night.

Hotel California - the third song of the night - was kicked off by an exquisite trumpet solo from the horn section that segued into all eight minutes of the atmospheric anthem, which serves as the band's signature tune.

Singer and drummer Don Henley's distinctive gritty tones have lost none of their bite in relaying that tale of the seedy underbelly of the American Dream, while Walsh's guitar solo was truly awesome. The Long Road Out Of Eden, the title track of their latest offering, was all sweeping precision combined with expansive beauty and cutting commentary.

Frey, Walsh, Henley and bassist Timothy Schmidt's musicianship was, in a word, stellar.

Every song, whether old or new, sounded like you'd heard it on the radio and sung along to it a million times.

Some critics might call the band's set predictable, but the audience - many of them also in their autumn years, it must be said - was nothing but appreciative, spontaneously clapping along, singing and jumping out of their seats for impromptu ovations.

If you know Singapore crowds, they are not generally known as the raucous sort. Especially if they are (ahem) older.

The hits kept coming.

There was Frey's tribute to an ex with Lyin' Eyes (1975), and the Eagles' best-selling single, Take It To The Limit (1975).

"This was our first millionselling single. Our wives called it 'the credit card song'," joked Frey.

Schmidt hit the high notes in I Can't Tell You Why (1979), making the crowd call out eagerly for more.

The band members also didn't hesitate to give the crowd a taste of their solo successes.

Walsh's seething guitar-driven In The City (1979), the song he co-wrote for the soundtrack to the film The Warriors, was on show.

And there was a rocked-out version of Henley's monster, Boys Of Summer (whose lyrics are credited to Henley, while music was composed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' guitarist Mike Campbell).

Although each man to himself sounded amazing, it was when they were harmonising as one that one felt the true magic.

By the time they closed the set with Desperado, you knew that hell could freeze over tomorrow but, at least, you could say you'd seen the Eagles, live, and undiluted.

For more my paper stories click here.

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