EAGLES – FAREWELL I TOUR: LIVE IN MELBOURNE (2005)
Starring Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Steuart Smith, Will Hollis, Greg Smith, Billy Armstrong, Chris Mosert, Al Garth, Scott Crago, Michael Thompson and David Wild.
Directed by Carol Dodd.
Distributed by Warner Strategic Marketing. minutes. Not Rated.
It seems like the Eagles have had a farewell tour at least once a decade since they originally broke up in 1982. I guess they’ll keep on breaking up as long as we’ll keep coming back when they reconsider. And we’ll keep coming back as long as they have going away parties like this musical marathon recorded in Australia in 2004.
Farewell I Tour: Live in Melbourne has thirty songs spread over two DVDs, and nearly all of them were classic hits. Not only do they do group songs, but there is also a full contingent of solo singles by group members; four by drummer Don Henley and five by guitarist Joe Walsh, including two songs from his earlier band The James Gang. (The five count is assuming you include “In the City” which was a Walsh solo single as the theme for the late 70s movie The Warriors but was later showed up on the Eagles’ 1979 album The Long Run.)
Fellow guitarist Glenn Frey sort of gets the short end of the stick, only performing one of his several solo singles, but at least “You Belong To the City” was as close to perfection as his side work got (though I would have liked to get the gorgeous ballad “The One You Love,” too, but I guess that’s getting a little greedy.) Only keyboardist Timothy B. Schmit is completely shut out of the solo sweepstakes, but that is more a reflection on his career away from the Eagles than his stature in the group. His biggest hits were the forgettable pop fluke “Boys Night Out” and a lovely version of the Tymes’ “So Much in Love” recorded for the soundtrack to the film Fast Times At Ridgemont High, neither of which probably had that many people clamoring to see live.
But the songs people are really looking for are the band smashes and there are a ton of them here and we all know them – every single word. (The Eagles have released two of the ten best-selling albums ever: Their Greatest Hits and Hotel California.) The band shifts dexterously from country-rock weepers (“New Kid In Town,” “Desperado” and “Tequila Sunrise” all sound mighty fine here) to folksy riffs (“Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Already Gone”), beautiful MOR ballads (“Lyin’ Eyes,” “I Can’t Tell You Why” and the more recent “Love Will Keep Us Alive”) and harder-edged stompers (“The Long Run,” “One of These Nights,” “Life’s Been Good” and “Life in the Fast Lane.”)
The band sounds wonderfully tight for a band that plays together so sporadically (and, if rumors are to be believed, has so much internal strife). There are four polished professionals here that each bring different sounds and shades to the group’s palette. They are also engaging storytellers (I love it when Glenn Frey dedicates “Lyin’ Eyes” with “This is for my ex-wife, plaintiff.”) The band also has a crack backing band, including the brilliant former Rosanne Cash guitarist Steuart Smith.
Sometimes the Eagles get taken for granted as artists. They are still so ubiquitous on radio that we don’t think of digging out their old albums. They can become musical wallpaper; songs you have heard so many times that you forget to pay attention to them when they’re on. That’s a shame, because Farewell I Tour makes a fine case for the Eagles being one of the great bands of the rock era. This DVD should keep us going until the 2012 “Hell Freezes Over Yet Again” reunion tour. (6/05)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted July 3, 2005.