The Eagles Check-in to PPG Paints Arena on Long Goodbye Tour for Fantastic Concert (Review)
The Eagles performed Sunday night in front of a packed house at PPG Paints Arena as part of their Long Goodbye Final Tour. The Eagles, who started out as a folk-rock-country sounding band, evolved into one of the biggest bands of the classic rock era. Both musical eras were full of numerous hit songs, from the melodic, beautiful harmonies of their early years to the hard-driving songs of their later period. Songs from both eras and solo hits were on the set list for their Pittsburgh tour stop.
The concert started with a two-minute video showing different members of the band both individually and collectively. It was especially touching to see photos of the late Glenn Frey, a founding member of the group who died at the age of 67 in 2016. Frey’s son, Deacon, carries on in his father’s tradition and has been touring with the group for the last several years. The other founding member still in the group is the legendary Don Henley.
The Eagles Early Hits
When The Eagles took the stage to start the concert the audience gave them a loud standing ovation. Talk about respect for a band. They opened with “Seven Bridges Road.” The song saw all the main members of the band—Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, and Vince Gill—spread out across the front of the stage, each singing in harmony and playing guitar. Their harmonies on their early songs are just amazingly beautiful. Also performing in that lineup was longtime Eagles touring member and lead guitarist, Steuart Smith. On the stage with guitar virtuosos Walsh and Gill, Steuart holds his own and carries a lot of lead guitar load. That was quickly followed by “Take It Easy,” skillfully sung and performed on guitar by Deacon Frey. The video screen showed a sunset among palm trees. Henley took the lead on “One of These Nights,” followed by Gill singing “Lyin’ Eyes.”
Henley came to center stage to chat with the audience, saying, “Thanks for coming out on a Sunday night. It’s a beautiful time of year in Western Pennsylvania.” He also welcomed the people who crossed the border from Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. When the crowd booed, he interjected, “Don’t boo, we’re all friends here. This isn’t a sporting event with an opposing team.” He also said our goal is to have a two hour vacation from reality, which we will get back to soon enough tomorrow morning. He then dedicated “Take It to the Limit “ to late band member Randy Meisner.
Henley sang a very beautiful rendition of “Best of My Love” before pounding his drum kit hard for “Witchy Woman.” The song also provided Walsh with his first solo lead guitar spotlight of the evening. “Peaceful Easy Feeling “ was also beautiful. “Tequila Sunrise” saw a brilliant red sunrise on the video screen. There are some good Spanish guitar influences on that song.
The Eagles: Hotel California, The Long Run, and Solo Hits
With the Walsh song “In the City,” from The Warriors movie soundtrack, and also The Eagles album, The Long Run, the band was mainly entering the more modern part of their hits catalog. On the song Walsh sang and played a Gibson semi-acoustic red guitar with gold trim. Throughout the night Walsh changed guitars like a fashion model changes clothes for a runway show. And much like a runway model, he also knows how to work his skills. In addition to the Gibson, Walsh appeared to play Les Pauls, Telecasters, Stratocasters, a Starplayer TV Ron Wood, and a PRS McCarty 594 Singlecut Joe Walsh. Possibly a Gretsch too. His guitar tech definitely earns their money. For “In the City” Henley moved to a second set of drums and played them with percussion mallets.The video screens were showing generic shots of a city and then people noticed they had slipped in some shots from the exterior of PPG Paints Arena and the church next to it. They applauded their approval.
Walsh introduced his “Life’s Been Good” by saying it was good to be back here and that he spent four days here one night, jokingly referring to his past problems with drugs and alcohol. His guitar playing on the song was remarkable. ”Funk #49” and “Rocky Mountain Way” were two other fantastic Walsh songs he and the band performed to perfection. For “Rocky Mountain Way” the video screen showed Walsh singing and playing guitar with flames emanating from him and his guitar.
One of my favorite Eagles songs, ”I Can’t Tell You Why,” was beautifully sung and performed on bass guitar by Schmit. The song has it all—high, crystalline vocals, incredible lead guitar, melodic keyboards and piano, beautiful vocal harmonies, and steady supporting drums. The song is about overcoming relationship difficulties to make the relationship survive. It was so good that I have to confess, it made me a little misty-eyed. Joe Walsh played the piano on the song. “I Can’t Tell You Why” also has one of my favorite lead guitar outros, which was performed by Smith.
Henley shined again with his “Boys of Summer” solo hit which he dedicated to the late Jimmy Buffett. “New Kid in Town,” “Already Gone,” “Heartache Tonight,” and “Life in the Fast Lane” closed out the set.
After sustained clapping and cheering, The Eagles returned to the stage and played “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Desperado” and one of their biggest hits, “Hotel California.” For “Hotel California” the video screens showed imagery inspired by the album art from Hotel California of a Spanish-style building, the Beverly Hills Hotel, with a bell tower on it. Henley sounded great on lead vocals and drums. Walsh played a Les Paul and jammed with Smith who played a double neck guitar. What a splendid way to end a night of marvelous music.
The Eagles’ touring musicians were all superb with the aforementioned Smith (lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals), Michael Thompson (keyboards, piano, backing vocals), Scott Crago (drums, percussion), and Will Hollis (keyboards, synthesizers, and backing vocals).
Vince Gill Band Subs for Steely Dan
Steely Dan was supposed to play as the opener, but Donald Fagen, Steely Dan’s leader, has been ill and was even in the hospital for a while. So they were forced to cancel a number of their dates. Gill filled the void with his band. The Vince Gill Band received an enthusiastic response from the audience when they were first introduced. Gill and his group are very talented and kept the crowd entertained. He at first joked that no he wasn’t Steely Dan. He also recounted performing his first show many years ago in Pittsburgh at the long gone Antonino’s pizza shop and performance space.
Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.