The Eagles - Farewell I Tour Review
I do like The Eagles but I suspect that you'll guess as much through the course of this review. But then, lots of people do given that their Greatest Hits album, recently re-released in a two-disc set, is one of the best-selling albums of all time. There isn't even any embarrassment in admitting how much I like them, completely unlike how the sight of my copy of Thriller now gives me a sinking feeling where once upon a time the thought of hearing P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) was almost as exciting as an episode of The Fall Guy, which, unlike The Eagles, featured Heather Thomas in several states of undress.
And yet, there ought to be no embarrassment on earth quite like admitting an appreciation of The Eagles. In fact, liking them ought to be an offence still punishable by spending time in the stocks if not having one's name read out in the dying minutes of the Ten O'Clock News on the BBC, introduced by a, "Shame will be brought on the houses of the following miscreants..." Look, if any evidence were needed, at the cover of Desperado and witness the already wealthy Eagles dressed as cowboys in an effort to convince us of their outlaw status. Listen to Hotel California and hear, through the cocaine sheen, the sound of rock stars bemoaning their fame and fortune. Gasp at the theme tune to the BBC's television adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy featured in all its glory on One Of These Nights (Journey of the Sorcerer). Weep at how their otherwise stately final album, The Long Run, almost ends with a song titled Greeks Don't Want No Freaks!
And yet I love them. Not quite, I admit, as much as Bob Seger, who I could bore you rigid with my love of, but they're up there in my record collection. Ill-suited bedfellows to Throwing Muses, Throbbing Gristle and The Revolting Cocks they may be but they're there nonetheless.
The previous DVD from The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over, the title of which referred to the likelihood of them ever getting back on stage together - is rather well-regarded. This release, less a follow-up than a record of an ongoing tour that's doubtless earning them improbable riches, features the band from a concert from Melbourne in November 2004. Everything that you could want from The Eagles is here, from opening song The Long Run, which featured in their sets from the seventies long before being recorded for the album of the same name, to Desperado, the final track on the DVD. In between, it reads something like a Greatest Hits collection, featuring New Kid In Town, Wasted Time (as well as its reprise), I Can't Tell You Why, Lyin' Eyes, Tequila Sunrise, Take It To The Limit, Life In The Fast Lane, Take It Easy and, obviously, Hotel California. There are, as one might expect, the odd tracks that were thrown up in solo careers or as individual efforts such as The Boys Of Summer, Life's Been Good, In The City and Rocky Mountain Way and there's even a couple of new songs, One Day At A Time and No More Cloudy Days, which don't embarrass themselves in the company of the better-known songs that surround them.
But what's disappointing is the lack of stage presence shown by Frey, Henley, Schmidt and Walsh. Having long been a fan of their old two-disc live album - their changing the words of Take It Easy from, "Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona" to the localised, "...in Southern California" was instructive in my own and very short rock career - I expected more of them. Certainly more movement for a start but, equally, a bit more of a connection with the audience but, as befits four men richer than God, there's a feeling of them not really trying, of being happy going through the motions. Granted, stagecraft is a little difficult with a singing drummer but Glenn Frey could have moved...a little at least. Joe Walsh is good fun but, try as he might, he can't quite sustain the entire show on his own.
I suspect, however, that The Eagles don't really appear to be enjoying earning the millions coming their way through the playing of this concert is but a trifling matter next to the music. Those that don't count themselves as fans of The Eagles won't find much to change their mind here but those of us who've studied the faces of the gatefold sleeve of Hotel California looking for a subtle message from the band will find much to enjoy here. No, it's not the best concert DVD - visually, it's not even a very good one - but as I discovered whilst reviewing this, a glass or two of wine, a warm summer's sunset and The Eagles make for a rather enjoyable evening. Any chance of a Bob Seger DVD now?
Given how often Hell Freezes Over was used to demonstrate home cinema systems in the early days of DVD - it was certainly used by The Audio File in Bishop's Stortford where I bought my first DVD player and amplifier - Farewell I Tour has a lot to live up to. With a choice of PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 Surround, this is a superb-sounding release with a carefully-prepared mix that flatters the music, bringing out the occasional moment of delicacy in the playing whilst also coping with the very odd moment when The Eagles, as much as they ever do, rock. If not quite on a par with the Led Zeppelin set, there is no shame in that with it being one of the very best music DVD releases, but this is still excellent. I will, however, admit to preferring the PCM Stereo soundtrack over DTS, finding that, being a child of the stereo era, music sounds better out of two speakers rather than six.
The picture isn't at all bad but given that the DVD gets no more exciting than the visual occasional flourish by Joe Walsh, it's overshadowed somewhat by the terrific quality of the soundtrack.
The only bonus material is a set of interviews with the members of the band either on their own or, in the case of Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh, seated together. This is the usual backslapping fare with each member of the band finding the time to complement the others with special mention being reserved for the genius of the Frey/Henley partnership. Unfortunately, in a post-Spinal Tap world all of this is cliche and if you can make it through Glenn Frey describing Timothy Schmidt as the ribbon on the pack - being the bass down below and the high harmony parts - without thinking of Derek Smalls describing himself trapped between the fire and ice of David St Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel as lukewarm water, you're made of sterner stuff than I.
This will, I'm sure, sell ridiculously well, maybe not as well as their Greatest Hits collection DVD but very well for three middle-aged men grumbling about the riches afforded to them by their startlingly successful career. And about being outlaws, obviously. But look past that and an audience that sits back down again between songs and you have a decent record of The Eagles on tour. Granted that it's one that's lacking any sense of adventure but, then again, that's a fair criticism of the band itself.
Last updated: 17/06/2018 21:04:00