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Concert Reviews:
Eagles fly high again at Little Caesars Arena
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

» See more SOUND CHECK

DETROIT -- Just about any city is happy to have the Eagles roost in town for a night, given the group's rich and historic legacy.

But it means a little more in Detroit -- both to the band and the fans -- as was demonstrated again on Sunday night, Oct. 14, at Little Caesars Arena.

The group's second visit since the January 2016 death of co-founder and Royal Oak native Glenn Frey wasn't quite as emotionally charged, or seat-filling, as last year's. But the 25-song, two-hour and 20-minute show was filled with Frey's presence, from his songs -- sung by his son Deacon Frey and fellow new member Vince Gill -- to the group members' own testimony.

"It's a blessing to be here," the younger Frey, sporting a gray Detroit T-shirt, told the crowd. "It's always interesting to come back here. It's certainly emotional, I can't lie, but I keep trucking on through. You guys are helping me out." He then sang "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "one my dad used to sing," with a photo of Glenn Frey hovering behind on the massive video screen after the song.

Gill -- who dubbed himself "the 61-year-old new guy" -- also delivered "a heartfelt thank you on behalf of Deacon and myself for you guys being so accepting" of their addition to the band. And Don Henley, now the only original member left in Eagles lineup, offered his own praise, saying the group is "pleased and grateful and proud to have Glenn's son up here with us. The young man has had some big shoes to fill, and he's stepping up like a champ. We're gonna honor his father's legacy tonight..."

Eagles certainly did that heritage proud throughout the course of the show, largely the same as the 2017 but with a palpable sense of greater comfort that's come from more than a year on the road together and with some choice additions to the setlist -- including Henley's solo hit "The Boys of Summer," Gill's chart-topping 1992 country hit "Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away" and Tom Waits' "Ol' 55," which Eagles covered for the "On the Border" album in 1974. And Sunday's abundant virtues were the same as most Eagles concerts -- tight playing (with hot guitar solos by Gill, Joe Walsh and Steuart Smith), jaw-droppingly smooth harmonies -- showcased from the get-go with the opening "Seven Bridges Road" -- and a tasteful production whose visuals enhanced the performances but never eclipsed what was fundamentally a musical master class.

Gill's addition to the band has been particularly seamless, his warm vocal twang a natural for Frey stand-ins such as "Take It to the Limit," "Tequila Sunrise," "New Kid in Town" and "Lyin' Eyes." Bassist Timothy B. Schmit showed off his still-intact high vocal register during "I Can't Tell You Why" and "Love Will Keep Us Alive," and Walsh was his usual show-stealing self on a batch of solo and James Gang hits -- "In the City," "Walk Away," "Life's Been Good," "Funk #49" and "Rocky Mountain Way," fortified with a five-piece horn section, lasers and a grinning court jester routine alongside some searing guitar work.

The note-perfect encore of "Hotel California" was, of course, A Moment, while Henley's gentle delivery of "Desperado," one of two songs to feature a five-member string section, sounded like a hymn. Eagles have not yet said what will happen as the flight continues, but Sunday's show reminded us that it's formidable legacy is indeed in good hands.

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