Saturday 2 August 2014

History of The Eagles, O2 Arena

When it comes to hearing music live, I've been a pretty lucky girl. With family and friends all having a passion for the good stuff, my list of concerts and gigs has got many of the greats ticked off: The Stones (twice!), Paul McCartney, The Kinks (also twice), Eric Clapton, The Who (...twice again...), as well as some modern stars too like Foo Fighters and Katy Perry (and watch out for my Lady Gaga review come October). You'd be hard pushed to beat me in a game of "Heard this live!".

They're in my top greats for sure, and now can be added to the concert list too - The Eagles arguably put on as good a show now as they ever could.

I've always thought that the O2 is a brilliant music venue if you have to venture out to one of the larger arenas to see big names. Two tips I'll give you for free: 

1. Take the Thames Clipper. The river boat service is relatively cheap (about £13 return, I think) and means that both journeys are hassle-free, with a guaranteed seat on what is practically a Thames sightseeing cruise. There are stations at London Eye, London Bridge and Canary Wharf and for a small upgrade you can have a glass of champers on board too (got to be better than the Jubilee line, surely).

2. If you can't afford the prime seats in the arena (which could set you back hundreds), go for up the top at the back, as directly opposite the stage as is available. I've never been disappointed with these seats, which are often the cheapest, and have sat in them many times. Your view won't be distorted or blocked, and to be honest, the large screens either side of the stage mean you won't be missing out on anything. It's all about the sound anyway, right? Now there's the 60s groover in me coming out strong.

So now you're there and seated, let's get on with the show. I'm always surprised when people say they only know the one Eagles song (no prizes for guessing which one...) because there are so many amazing tunes. What struck me most about the night was, despite being a reasonably big fan, just how many I'd forgotten! Forming in 1971, there are quite a few decades and albums to get through, it's true. 

The show was cleverly put together chronologically, starting off with the two founding members Don Henley and Glen Frey retelling The Eagles' story and then introducing the others as they arrived in the history. The stage also evolved with them, and the band went from sitting on amps in front of a dust-sheet backdrop to fronting an electrified set with lights and flashy graphics projected behind them.

The history was fascinating for a fan, but I also hugely enjoyed the light-hearted banter that interjected the show, like Frey admitting that the recording of one album was such a drug-induced blur that it's hard to keep track of what happened in that period ("This was recorded in August 1976, or at least that's what somebody told me. To be honest, ladies and gentlemen, it's a miracle that we're all still here"). At the mention of their recordings in Olympic Studios in "Barrrrrrnes" (Frey's Michigan accent made it sound rather exotic), I was sadly the only one in the whole O2 who whooped. SW London and proud, people!

As for the songs themselves, how could you fault them? There were no keys changes or slowed down tempos as far as I could make out, and the harmonies were all still in, well, perfect harmony. They can all still sing and all still play, and can all still do both things at once, especially Henley who sounds like he hasn't aged a day since the tracks were first recorded. There were however different versions of Witchy Woman and Heartache Tonight, but if these were somehow cover-ups, who cares - they were hugely entertaining.

It would be wrong not to single out one man's contribution to the show. If anyone had been snoozing off to the sweet lullabies of Best of My Love and Tequila Sunrise, their alarm clock was to come in the form of Mr. Joe Walsh. The guitarist, best known for his infamous Hotel California solo, was a lightning bolt of energy whenever he was present on stage, whether taking part in a riff-off with Frey or running about with a camera attached to his baseball cap, filming audience members of the front row. The performances of his solo hits Rocky Mountain Way and Life's Been Good were certainly highlights.

As a whole, the audience cheered, whooped and sang together, and all seemed to have a great time (well, apart from the fight that broke out in front of us, but I'm sure The Eagles have seen it all before). When queuing for a beer I overheard a man, completely blissed out and on the verge of tears of joy, who said he had waited all his life to see The Eagles. That surely proves that these men are rock royalty. An incredible evening out, and I look forward to maybe adding a "twice" after them on the list too.

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