Back in 1976, the Eagles had reached the peak of their power. They started the year with the compilation “The Greatest Hits (1971–1975)”, which has since become the best-selling album of all time.
The band wrapped up the year with their fifth record, “Hotel California,” a dark, cynical exploration of a culture frowned upon by fame, power, corruption and decadence. And yet, it stands as the band’s best-selling studio album.
On Friday night, the Eagles drew nearly 13,000 fans to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul for an evening dedicated to “Hotel California.” (The band would play a second show on Saturday.) They played it in its entirety, took a break, and returned for another set, one of their other most famous songs.
Of course, this isn’t the same Eagle that recorded the original “Hotel California.” Following the 2016 death of co-founder Glenn Frey, fellow co-founder Don Henley said the Eagles were now history. But soon after, Henley reversed course, hired Frey’s son Deacon and country legend Vince Gill, and hit the road.
We first saw this new version of the band when they headlined Target Field in June 2018 and surprisingly enough, the lineup changes brought a much-needed fresh energy to a band known for chilly professionalism. Usually Dorr Henley wasn’t afraid to sit back on the drum kit and join the new kids as well as vet Joe Walsh (whose first album with the band was “Hotel California”) and Timothy B. Schmidt (who joined the record during the initial tour) – Step into the limelight.
Friday night’s performance was even better. The Eagles will always have a certain rigor, but Gil and Frey bring new warmth to the stage that also rubbed off on Henley.
The show began with a man walking on stage, who picked up a vinyl copy of “Hotel California” and ceremoniously placed it on the turntable. Some surface noise played over the speakers and the Eagles launched into the title track. (After five songs a glamorous woman appeared and formally flipped the vinyl to side two.)
The Eagles made a conscious choice to start moving away from their country rock sound with “Hotel California” and Friday night the album’s rockers thundered, most notably “Life in the Fast Lane”, which was never so powerful. didn’t feel. An orchestra, and later a choir, joined the band for about half the track, including the epic album “The Last Resort”.
After an intermission, the band returned to the stage for “Seven Bridges Road”, which opened with a surprise a cappella introduction that allowed the group’s harmony to shine through. Frey skillfully channeled the spirit of his late father in “Take It Easy” and “Already Gone”, while Gill brought his taste to a grand “Take It to the Limit” backed by an orchestra.
Walsh composed it for his singles, including “In the City” and “Life’s Been Good”, to much applause from the crowd. As for Henley, he sounded a bit hoarse and twirled occasionally and somehow allowed his vocals to sink into the background during the bass-heavy “The Shoes.” Henley also noted that the Eagles signed their first record deal 50 years ago this month. Friday night’s show proved they still have baggage.