Eagles: Farewell 1 Tour — Live from Melbourne Jul 2, 2019 16:43:21 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 2, 2019 16:43:21 GMT -5
Eagles: Farewell 1 Tour — Live from Melbourne (2005)
Directed by: Carol Dodds
Directed by: Carol Dodds
From left: Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey, front and center, for the Eagles' stop in Melbourne in November 2004.
I want to make one thing perfectly clear before I proceed: I f***ing love the Eagles. I've noticed that's become a bit of a controversial statement in recent years. You almost can't address the Eagles without talking about all the overblown criticism the band has faced; negativity that became glaringly apparent when founding member Glenn Frey died in 2016. "Glenn Frey’s death is sad, but the Eagles were a horrific band," was the NY Daily News' contemptible headline the day of the 67-year-old's passing. You want to talk about fake news, do you?
Among the litany of Eagles merchandise, CD, and DVD releases is Eagles: Farewell 1 Tour — Live from Melbourne, a nearly three-hour, dual-disc DVD — depending on where you bought it — that shows the quartet's concert at the Rod Laver Arena in Australia in November 2004. Don't believe the dubious "farewell tour" in the title. It's an inherently wry joke, confirmed by Frey himself, who states in the DVD extras that there is an "honesty" in referring to the tour as "Farewell 1." It implies "Farewell 2" would follow. I caught the Eagles at the Allstate Arena in the fall of 2013 in the middle of their "History of the Eagles" tour. Looks like Farewell 2 and then some happened long after this tour.
The band fittingly opens with the recognizable hit "The Long Run," a song from what was the Eagles' last album for almost 30 years until they regrouped in 1994 and made Long Road Out of Eden in 2007. From there, the incredibly talented group belts out favorites such as "Wasted Time," "One of These Nights," and Tequila Sunrise." Sneaking up on you are slightly different, looser renditions of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer" and "Take it to the Limit" being prefaced by Frey as his ex-wife's favorite song about "his credit card." Also included is the (relatively) new song "Hole in the World," written in the wake of 9/11, and some cloying sentiment aside, it again shows the power of the Eagles' pitch-perfect harmony.
Joe Walsh dons a construction hat to start the second disc, complimenting the group's performance of his song "Life's Been Good" by filming audience members getting a little silly. Walsh has the perpetual look of "what do you think of this?" on his face as he plays that beautiful slide guitar in a coy manner that is nonetheless complimentary to his personality. Henley is unfairly talented, blessed with the gift of rustic, crooning vocals and great drum skills. Frey defines the yacht rock era, from production to vocals, and when he takes centerstage to sing, he's as good as he always was. Certainly destined to be lost in the shuffle of these towering rock staples is bassist Timothy B. Schmit. He's someone I took note of when I saw the Eagles live. He's got a casual posture, and although it was his singing and musical talents that got him where he (still) is, his casual presence accentuates the quartet and his long hair and slim jeans look the part of the group.
A good eight minutes of the concert's home-stretch is reserved for "Hotel California," the long-elusive, loosely experimental (for the Eagles) number about the place from where you can check out, but never officially leave. Even though the band could undoubtedly sleepwalk through the number (as they famously discussed their contempt for playing "the same songs" nightly in the terrific documentary, History of the Eagles), there is a conviction in the performance that demonstrates musicians at the top of the game, so refined in their craft, both individual and as a group. The song simply feels large, and the band members have so swimmingly found their groove when belting it.
After scouring music-review sites — everything from Robert Christgau to RateYourMusic — one of the most prolific complaints about the Eagles I've found is their perceived lack of experimentation, especially within the context of their era (the 1970s). One of the reasons the Eagles are so wildly popular, and currently boast the biggest-selling album in America, is quite possibly because of formula, something we all love to hate but won't admit we hate that we love it. Their songs have a basic structure, with recognizable instruments, and instantly infectious harmonies, all things that immediately drew me and so many others in their discography. It's the building blocks of music insofar in that it showcases immaculate musicianship. While noting the band's roots were entrenched in the country genre, the original quartet of Henley, Frey, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner sounded like a more modern, rock-centric Statler Brothers with more nuanced lyricism. Blasting the formula and lack of zest, so to speak, in the Eagles is a fruitless argument. Its accessibility and deceptive lyrical complexity is what catapulted them to superstardom.
These complaints are twofold, as they often come from the same individuals who blast their said lyricism, lamenting its simplicity and innate positivity. I'd argue that "Take it Easy" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" not only have subtle contradictions in their expression of emotions, but they too are not as carefree and happy as people like to assume. "Take it Easy," which is exceptionally performed in this concert as part of the second or third encore, depending on how you measure, comes off as a self-motivated pep-talk for someone trying to keep his mind clear and off potentially inevitable failure. Imagine playing "Peaceful Easy Feeling" to wrap up a first date — a song that essentially involves the singer putting up a protective boundary around himself so in the event that he is hurt by his lover, he'll be fine in the long-run because he is "already standing on the ground." The latter song is, too, performed with lush instrumentation and Frey's silky vocals.
Now that I got that out of my system, back to the concert at hand. Farewell 1 Tour is very much a filmed-for-TV/DVD concert as opposed to one more suited for theatrical treatment. It's exactly the kind of recording that will live on in rerun-form on such networks as AXS-TV and Audience, and that's perfectly fine, for it's well-produced and edited. I would've been content with more window dressing in the editing room, along the lines of late in the show, when Don Henley singing is cut and placed as a transparent half-frame that blends with a shot of the four-piece horn section. It's always a fine line, however. Too much of a good thing distracts from the obvious display of calculated, professional musicianship, but too little, makes the presentation feel dry. Either way, the Eagles sound great and the songs sustain a nearly three-hour runtime that makes for a breezy and thoroughly pleasant afternoon or evening with some of the best American songs of all-time.
Directed by: Carol Dodds.