Article and images by Bill Kelly
In the beginning, there was Frey, and Henley, and it was good. And then, there was Leadon, and Meisner, and Felder, and others, and it was good. But then, there was Walsh, and the light of rock ‘n roll deprivation shown on the Eagles.
In the opening of their three night “History of the Eagles” run at MSG, Henley and Frey ran through a brief history of the band, bringing back original guitarist Bernie Leadon who played for most of the 30 song concert. Starting acoustically and slowly, the original duo opened the show with “ Saturday Night”, brought in Leadon to join them on “Train Leaves Here This Morning” and then bassist Timothy B. Schmit to perform “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, the familiar harmonies now soaring. Joe Walsh, the basher of many a hotel room, consort of Keith Moon, joined the band as they launched into “Witchy Woman” and the sound of the band took off.
Running through a compendium of hits that spanned across the bands 40 year lifespan (not counting a 14 year hiatus before hell froze over) it became clear that the addition of Walsh lifted the Eagles from a very pleasant Southern California rock/folky ensemble into a real kick-ass band. Indeed, highlights of the show came when Walsh performed some of his better known songs, including “Life’s Been Good” and “Funk 49” from waaay back in the James Gang years. Walsh brought out the best in the other musicians, pushing their playing and singing to keep up with his frenetic pace.
The final moments of the show switched gears from Walsh’s uproarious “Rocky Mountain Way” to Henley’s “Desparado”, covering the sold out Garden with moving harmonies. Although no one in the band has signaled that this was their last tour, the almost chronological progression of the set list and inclusion of Leadon gives the feeling that the band’s long run may be coming to an end. And it was good...