Eagles Live in Denver 2018: Different, But the Same

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Don Henley, Coors Field, Denver, CO, June 28, 2018 (Photo: Mark Brown)

“Good morning!” Joe Walsh bellowed in a suffocating Denver baseball stadium on the hottest day of the year. He got a relieved laugh from the nearly 50,000 sweaty fans who endured a 105-degree high to be there.

Eagles had just opened their June 28, 2018 concert with “Seven Bridges Road,” the lush vocal harmonies cutting through the muggy night. It was the band’s first return to Colorado, a place pivotal to all their careers, since the passing of co-founder Glenn Frey. And now here were those songs, back again, sounding exquisite in the twilight with the help of Vince Gill and Glenn’s son Deacon.

It definitely wasn’t the same. Yet it really wasn’t that much different.

Full disclosure: This seemed like a bad idea. I nodded in agreement when Don Henley told the Washington Post in 2016, “I don’t see how we could go out and play without the guy who started the band.”

Two years and a lot of healing later, the band Frey and Henley started stood on the Coors Field stage. It brought Eagles music to fans who never thought they’d hear it again.

Deacon Frey, Coors Field, Denver, CO, June 28, 2018 (Photo: Mark Brown)

To experience Deacon Frey singing his father’s signature hits is surreal in a good way, like going down a weird YouTube rabbit hole to 1974, right down to the long hair and scruffy beard. Henley said a few words early on in memory of his late partner, but then it was on.

Overthinking things, though, is for suckers. As the band unreeled hit after hit in their 23-song set (along with satisfying deep cuts like “Those Shoes”), all anyone was thinking about was singing along. The band sounded vital and strong and the crowd was thrilled to be there.

It’s amazing that the musicians can make it seem so effortless when you can see with your own eyes how demanding it is. Gill’s crack guitar work is another tool in the arsenal, superbly complementing Steuart Smith’s fretwork.

“I’m going to sing one more my dad used to sing, if that’s OK,” Frey teased the crowd. But Frey isn’t just a replacement voice; he and Smith dueled fiercely during the guitar solo in “Already Gone.”

Maybe some of that effortless feel comes from a loosening of the rules. While the band’s shows used to slavishly recreate the studio albums, they breathe easier now. Not every note is the same; the reworked “Witchy Woman” from “The History of the Eagles” tour still sounds fresh. And when it comes to the guitar solos, they’re more inclined to let Walsh off the leash to great effect.

Timothy B Schmit, Coors Field, Denver, CO, June 28, 2018 (Photo: Mark Brown)

Gill did a lot of the heavy lifting on “Take It to the Limit” (he’s the third vocalist in the band to sing it after Randy Meisner and Glenn Frey), “Lyin’ Eyes” and “New Kid in Town.” Henley’s voice remains a force of nature, strong and sure on “One of These Nights” and the aforementioned “Those Shoes.”

Related: Our exclusive interview with longtime Eagles producer Bill Szymczyk on the making of Hotel California

It’s an odd phenomenon that the band is filling bigger rooms than ever. It may be Eagles Version 5.0, but it still works.

Eagles tickets are available at Ticketmaster.

Mark Brown

2 Comments so far

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  1. Bead
    #1 Bead 14 March, 2020, 01:26

    I had no clue that Vince Gill could add to the Eagles legacy

    Reply this comment
    • v2787
      v2787 8 December, 2022, 20:38

      Vince Gill is probably the most talented guy in the whole band. He can sing anything and play guitar like crazy. Remember, he was a pop star (with Pure Prairie League) before he went country. He’s a great fit with the Eagles. It’s too bad he wasn’t in the band from the beginning.

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