Two concerts in four nights makes for great fun
By Steve Metsch
Attention all concert goers: If you want to have a memorable experience, try seeing the same band twice in a few nights.
I had the pleasure of doing so recently. Saw the Eagles at the United Center on Oct. 15. Then was offered the chance to see them at their next show, on Oct. 18, at Milwaukee’s brand-new Fiserv Forum. Soon after learning I could attend, I was driving north like James Dean.
I’ve only done something similar once before, seeing Sir Paul McCartney on back-t0-back nights in Tinley Park in July 2017. As with those shows, I upgraded my seats considerably for the second show. Let me tell ya, the closer you are to the stage, the better the concert. You can really get into the songs and pick up on little things that you may not detect sitting in the rafters.
The set lists were exactly the same. In Milwaukee, the Eagles played the 26 songs they played at the United Center. But even so, there were some differencea. You can’t play a song exactly the same each time out. Of course, you can play it very well each time, and that’s what the Eagles do.
Friends have asked me which bands have the best sound. My answer: Yes, Genesis and the Eagles. Each time I’ve seen those bands, I’ve walked away marveling at the clarity and the perfect volume. It’s like listening to the CD or – for us old timers – a vinyl record album sans the pops and hisses.
In Milwaukee, an old friend and I sat to the side of the stage, a few rows in front of it. Great view. And hats off to the good people of Milwaukee for having padded chairs in their new arena. More on that later.
The Eagles were in fine form again when they performed in Milwaukee. Photo by Steve Metsch.
We heard the same jokes and stories we heard in Chicago. And that’s okay. As Don Henley, who again thanked us for “coming out on a school night, noted, the band’s Milwaukee show was the 53rd of this tour. You kind of get in a routine. I know McCartney pretty much told the same stories when I saw him back-to-back. The main thing is the music.
It was amusing when Henley said he and guest superstar Vince Gill, who is helping fill the huge shoes of the late Glenn Frey, had “shared some cheese curds right before the show, so if you hear some funny noises coming off the stage …” No worries, Don. But you should have had a bratwurst. Come on, you’re in Wisconsin.
Gill and Deacon Frey, the son of the late Eagles’ co-founder, again were impressive in filling in for Glenn Frey, who died in 2016.
If you’ve never seen Vince Gill perform, either try to catch this tour, or see him solo down the line. Gill, who joked that he’s the “61-year-old new guy,” still has that velvet voice, and is amazing as ever on guitar. It gave me chills when he sang lead vocals while covering Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55.” It’s a song that doesn’t get enough attention and features some great backing vocals, a real gem.
There were plenty of gems to go around from a band whose first greatest hits album, chronicling the era of 1971 to 1975, recently became the top-selling album of all-time. That’s right. Not Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Stones, or Bee-Gees. The Eagles.
When you hear those songs played in concert, you know why that album is the top-seller. The songs don’t sound dated. They wash over you with their lush harmonies. I first saw the Eagles in 1980 at Alpine Valley. They’ve been through plenty of well-documented turmoil. Only one founding member, Henley, remains. Yet, they’re still great to listen to.
Joe Walsh, 70, proved again that age is just a number. Photo by Steve Metsch.
Part of that is, of course, because of Joe Walsh who, at age 70, is still the life of the party. He’s a key cog in the band with his impressive guitar solos, as heard on “In The City.” And the band knows his value. The Eagles only played one song from Henley’s non-Eagle days, the still haunting “Boys of Summer.” No solo work of Timothy B. Schmit was played. Yet we heard two solo Walsh songs and two from his James Gang days.
He of the rubbery face and fun demeanor, Walsh loves the spotlight. And, as they do in Chicago, the fans in Milwaukee love Joe. They roared when he took center stage. Let’s face it, it’s impossible to not get into “Walk Away” and “Funk #49,” his two James Gang songs. “Life’s Been Good,” with its autobiographical story about life with Joe before he quit drinking, was one of the show’s best moments.
Another highlight was “Rocky Mountain Way” with Walsh and guitarist Steuart Smith, withe Eagles since 2001, trading hot licks. I liked it when they exchanged a fist pump after the song. Sitting closer, you catch little things like Gill cracking up when he glanced over at Walsh during one of the songs. These guys are having fun. That’s what it’s all about. And when a band has fun, the fans have fun. It’s all good.
So is the singing voice of Schmit, 70, another ageless wonder who effortlessly hit the high notes of “I Can’t Tell You Why” and provided solid backing vocals all night long, notably on “New Kid in Town” with Gill on the lead. Schmit led the crowd on a kind of schmaltzy “which area is louder” bit” midway through the show. But he again got laughs when he mentioned how “you never now quite what you’re going to get with Joe.”
It wouldn’t be an Eagles concert with “Lyin’ Eyes,” one of those songs where Frey’s talent as a writer shines: “City girls just seem to find out early how to open doors with just a smile.” Gill did masterful job filling in for Glenn Frey. As Schmit said after, “a man who knows how to sing.”
Deacon Frey did a nice job filling in for his dad, notably on “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” which ended with Glenn’s photo displayed prominently, and “Already Gone,” one of the best breakup songs.
One question remains: How does Henley, 70, still hit the high notes at the end of “One of These Nights”? I would have liked to hear some of his stories about working with Glenn Frey, but this was a more a celebration of his musical legacy than a wake.
All in all, it was another terrific night of music, the second in four nights from the same band. Oh, and about Fiserv Forum: It may look odd on the outside, but once you’re inside, it’s fabulous. The concourse, with hundreds of flat-screen TVs is very fan friendly. So are the seats. There are plenty of food and beer options. I can’t wait to venture up for a Bulls-Bucks game although, given the Bulls’ injuries, it may be a “Heartache Tonight.”
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