Dubai: In spite of the continuing advance of electronic music it is heartwarming to see that the guitar - which became popular in the late 50s and early 60s, thanks to the urban folk revival and the rise of rock ‘n’ roll - continues to be the most popular instrument in the music business.
Place this necked string instrument in the hands of four legendary musicians and what have you: a mind-blowing, rollicking concert of epic proportions. Right, we’re talking about the Eagles who were totally sold out at the 7evens Rugby Stadium on Thursday night and put on a nearly two-hour show complete with two encores.
Much has been made of the fact that while Don Henley, Glen Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit are all stellar musicians in their own right, collectively they are not risk-takers onstage. The pursuit of perfectionism is the key for these fine musicians who perform their hits the way they would in a studio.
And so it was as the famed quartet took the stage to a thunderous applause with a harmony-laden ‘Seven Bridges Road’. Even though it’s been 40 years since their first album they sounded as fresh as they did in their ‘70s heydays.
Lead vocalist Henley’s voice sounds richer than ever, while Frey and Schmit, who delivered a quivering and grandiose “I Can’t Tell You Why” revealed a steady hand. It was left to Walsh to capture rock’s rowdy enthusiasm with his aggressive arena-rock riffing on such lovable tracks as ‘Walk Away’, ‘In the City’ and ‘Life’s Been Good’.
“He is familiar to law enforcement and hotel staff around the world. Never met a man he didn’t like, or a hotel room he couldn’t wreck. He is the master-blaster with the Stratocaster. Mr Joes Walsh,” screamed Frey when he introduced the former James Gang leader who joined the Eagles on their hit album ‘Hotel California’ in 1976.
Hallmarks of Eagles rich catalogue of hits included the 1972 folk-rock classic ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ and 1975s ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ delivered with panache by Frey as an exciting box guitar found its way into his hands.
With a high-quality bunch of backup musicians lending support with a full, tight and extremely realistic panoramic sound, Henley tore into ‘The Boys of Summer’, his biggest solo hit and reprised the effort on ‘The Long Run’, the title track from the 1979 album of the same name.
Although he’s almost 65 years, Henley’s voice showed no signs of ageing as he nailed both songs whilst flaunting a perennial range and talent almost indistinguishable from their original studio recordings.
While the night sky turned red with the twirling spotlights, the Eagles played into a steaming version of ‘Life in the Fast Lane’, the third single from ‘Hotel California’ before exiting the stage only to return seconds later for their first encore.
With the lights turned low, the first strains of the band’s monster-hit from 1976 filled the air as the crowd screamed in anticipation. Then, an opening riff that could only mean one thing: ‘Hotel California’ consumed the stadium to satisfy the most nostalgic cravings of an audience close to the edge.
With Henley back on his drums and belting out the lyrics “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…" Walsh and backup guitarist Steuart Smith explored the benchmark for dueling guitars with some stunning synchronized guitar playing.
It was the song people had coughed up as much as Dh1,500 or stood in long queues to board busses that would take them to the 7evens stadium to hear and they were not disappointed. It was by far the most satisfying of a night that saw the Henley and Co justify their four decades of popular rock classicism, and nobody could have summed it up better than the man himself when he told the audience: “It’s been 40 years since we first started, but it seems like yesterday. The reason we are still here today, is because of you. Thank you for supporting us all these years.”
Pretty iconic words, and for most of us who have waited years, days and hours to see the Eagles live in concert, it was more than enough.