Eagles: Live from the Forum MMXVIII Jul 8, 2020 12:06:33 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jul 8, 2020 12:06:33 GMT -5
Eagles: Live from the Forum MMXVIII (2020)
Directed by: Nick Wickham
Directed by: Nick Wickham
Glenn Frey's son, Deacon Frey (right), takes his father's place in the Eagles, as seen in the new concert special, Eagles: Live from the Forum MMXVIII.
With few live sports taking place over the last several months and movie theaters being shuttered across most of the world, premium entertainment has been at a never-before-seen deficit in the modern age. It feels like two weeks ago the 10-part ESPN documentary The Last Dance, which chronicled Michael Jordan's final championship run with the Chicago Bulls, concluded after captivating a nation starved for something resembling appointment viewing.
As a die-hard Eagles fan and someone struggling as much to stay sane during these "unprecedented times" as the next person, I didn't question why or how the worldwide leader in sports acquired the television rights to the Eagles' concert at The Forum in Inglewood, California. All I knew was I couldn't wait to see it.
For two and a half hours on Fourth of July weekend, we were treated to a band that looked different, sounded a little different, but felt just as melodic and engaging as they did when we last saw them on stage, either in-person or via video. Eagles: Live from the Forum MMXVIII is the first formal concert special showcasing the new-look Eagles following the death of co-founder Glenn Frey, who passed in 2016 from complications with rheumatoid arthritis and subsequent pneumonia. Taking Frey's place is both his 26-year-old son, Deacon Frey (named after the exceptional Steely Dan ballad) and country singer-songwriter Vince Gill.
While watching the special, my eyes were often on Deacon Frey, something I'm almost certain many other passionate Eagles fans could say. Talk about an incalculable challenge for a young man used to playing small-scale venues now making the leap to performing with his father's long-time partners before crowds of 50,000 roaring fans. Being this wasn't his first rodeo alongside surviving mainstays Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit, you can tell Frey got comfortable with the notion of making famous tunes such as "Take it Easy" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" his own as opposed to replicating the cadence of his dad. He doesn't elongate specific words like his father, but follows the tempo while delivering fabled lines with his own style. Frey takes the punch out of the line "such a fine sight to see" when talking about that now-famous corner in Winslow, Arizona, but his casual cadence manages to give the reworked songs a peaceful, breezy feeling, if you will.
As someone who never ventured too deep in the catalog of Vince Gill, for no specific reason mind you, I was captivated not only by Gill's prowess with a guitar and his sustained vocal range. He sings "Tequila Sunrise" as someone who probably covered the song by himself or with his band-mates on many a tour-bus trip across the country, familiar with the chord progressions and the imagery the song so effortlessly conveys. Furthermore, he fits like a glove on stage, alongside the seasoned drummer and crooner Henley, whose solo hits like "The Boys of Summer" get more room to breathe with the aid of an immensely talented, treasured supporting cast.
This is a concert brimful of moments, such as when Henley and the younger Frey harmonize "How Long," off the band's final album Long Road Out of Eden, which is somehow 13 years old. The nods and gestures they exchange remind you of the familial connection the band has retained, with the blood of one of the founders still coursing through the veins of a group that is more than simplistic "dad rock" as the cynical internet would like you to believe. Evidently the most proud of the addition of Deacon Frey is Henley, who continues to help the music he created with his longtime collaborator live on for a little while longer. "While we have lost a founder and a leader, we have gained a son," Henley says to a lively crowd at the Forum while signaling to Deacon, whose brief declarations of gratitude tell you all you need to know about the humbling experience this is for him.
If you've watched an Eagles concert before — or have had the privilege of seeing them live, as I had back at the Allstate Arena in 2013 — you'll know what to expect. You get the lengthy rendition of "Hotel California" set to a doomy, intoxicating light-show along with deep-cuts such as "Ol' 55" and "Those Shoes" buried between anthemic hits like "Heartache Tonight" and "The Long Run" — the latter always reminding me of the hell the group went through to make that album, which eventually resulted in their breakup. Joe Walsh, too, gets his time to be his exuberant self, demanding the crowd yell "bologna" in response to one of his lines in "Life's Been Good." The ESPN broadcast is prefaced by an introduction from the network's longtime sportscaster Chris Berman, who talks about the impact and legacy of the Eagles, and even flashes back to the time he met Glenn Frey in 1998 in front of a palatial hotel where Frey reminds Berman that "you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave."
Eagles: Live from the Forum MMXVIII is a welcomed treat during a calamitous time in the world. It recalls the therapeutic qualities music, particularly live music, possesses, and how that has been lost for the foreseeable future. For a moment, when you hear the chorus of "Peaceful Easy Feeling" for the umpteenth time, or take note of how "New Kid in Town" takes on a different meaning when it's played in part by a 26-year-old newcomer, there's a bit of normalcy, and these days, that's enough to suffice, if only for a few fleeting seconds.
NOTE: Eagles: Live from the Forum MMXVIII will sporadically air on many of ESPN's networks throughout the month of July, and will be available to purchase, along with a two-disc CD, on October 16th.
NOTE II: Check out my review of Eagles: Live from the Forum MMXVIII on my web-show Sleepless with Steve. Catch the show Wednesday evenings at 8pm CST at twitch.tv/sleeplesswithsteve!
Directed by: Nick Wickham.