EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ—The Eagles landed at the newly christened New Meadowlands Stadium, turning it into a cozy hoedown as the hits flew nonstop from the storied band. In a triple bill that included Keith Urban and the Dixie Chicks, the night tugged at the sleeves of country rock, yet left enough room for the rock and roll onslaught of ex-presidential candidate Joe Walsh who nearly melted the place down with his twisted leads of supersonic psychedelia.
The bands combined take on Americana took on country rock, ragged brawling rock, and the steel-eyed beats from Don Henley’s solo flights. Augmented by a group of sideman including guitarist extraordinaire, Steuart Smith, who played all the guitar parts of fired ex-Eagle Don Felder (check out his tome on the band’s witchy ways, Heaven and Hell), the band played the hits faithfully and note for note.
You’d think they’d just phone this one in, but no, they sweat and muscled their way through the hits, playing them with the passion of a dewy-eyed bar band. Co-captains Frey and Henley, who barely cracked a grin the entire performance, were like men on a mission. Their full blown delivery, stellar musicianship and back screen visuals added depth to the mechanized clatter of Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” and the bittersweet “Boys Of Summer” as black and white images flickered onstage.
Joe Walsh rescued the squad from its mid-show slumber as he laced into a showdown of howling vocals and bombastic riffs from his solo career. Wearing a black sports jacket (to Frey’s flannels and Henley’s stiff s Sunday school best) Walsh let it rip through “Walk Away,” “Funk #49” and “Rocky Mountain Way.” The New Jersey native added a naughty, playfulness to his bandmates’ scholarly stares that was infectious, adding from the stage “How ya doin?”
Opening up with a mini acoustic set on the a cappella “Seven Bridges Road,” then “How Long” and “Take it to the Limit,” they took on “Hotel California.” Starting with a trumpet call, it slowly took on the all too familiar guitar licks of the original with Henley singing on drums. Walsh, Frey and Smith’s ultimate guitar showdown of twisted leads that launched more than a billion bong hits was comfortably numbing to see live.
The hits followed like blasts from a 1970s jukebox with “Witchy Woman,” “One of These Nights” and “Lyin’ Eyes.” “Life in the Fast Lane” was the set closer, “Take it Easy” the first encore, and “Desperado,” the grand finale that Henley delivered at the mic as a sole, solitary figure ending an incredible night of music.
Openers Keith Urban and Dixie Chicks also played the hits. Dixie Chick Natalie Maines looked a little out of place in a buzz cut and dungaree cut offs to the Erwin sister’s model looks, yet gave a spirited performance of their hits including “Wide Open Spaces,” “Landslide” and Goodbye Earl.”
Keith Urban’s set began in the rain with “Kiss a Girl.” The New Zealand native and hubby to Nicole Kidman took to the back of the floor for one number to the squealing delight of the ladies in the crowd, jumpstarting a great night of music at the New Meadowlands Stadium.