posted on June 25, 2010 11:34
Busch Stadium hosted its second concert ever Thursday night as the Eagles and the Dixie Chicks brought their “Summer 2010” tour to St. Louis.
The Dixie Chicks’ set featured a decent mix of ballads and rockers. Not everyone likes country music, and not everyone agrees with their politics—an opposition possibly illustrated by the majority of the crowd sitting in their seats through the set—but Natalie Maines and co. can flat-out sing. Their voices, both solo and on the harmonies, were as crisp and clear as they are in their recordings. Marty Maguire and Emily Robison seemed to change instruments every time a new song started, and everything they played was played expertly. Hits like “Cowboy Take Me Away” got the crowd up and dancing and singing along. They played solid covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and Train’s “Hey Soul Sister.” But the climax of their show was, without a doubt, “Goodbye Earl” which closed out the set. The Dixie Chicks are immensely talented and put on a really good show.
The Eagles took the stage to rousing cheers from the, to that point, somewhat subdued crowd. The atmosphere at the beginning of the night seemed like it would be a sit-down night of older folks calmly listening to some of yesterday’s favorites. But while the opening songs weren’t exactly heavy, the band’s abilities quickly turned this into a great classic rock show with plenty of energy.
After opening with “Seven Bridges Road,” “How Long,” and “Take It to the Limit,” a single trumpet player illuminated by a single red stage light played a familiar intro that segued into “Hotel California.” The video backdrop lit up with the silhouette of “the hotel” from the classic album’s artwork, and Don Henley belted out the universally-known lyrics from behind his drum kit. Even though it seemed a little early to hear what is possibly the Eagles’ most famous song, “Hotel California” fell into place as the unofficial beginning of the set.
The show kept coming strong from there. The entire set played out like a Greatest Hits of the 70s, with no new or really obscure songs at all. The Eagles are a band whose music spans genres, and their on-stage presence shows their individual musical personalities from one song to the next. They bounced from ballads like “I Can’t Tell You Why,” sung by bassist Timothy B. Schmit, to the spooky riffs of “Witchy Woman” featuring Don Henley’s gravelly rock croon, the Glenn Frey twang of “Lying Eyes,” and the ultimate 70s anthemic rock of Joe Walsh on “In the City.” They even dressed their respective parts: Walsh sported long blonde hair and a Ramones t-shirt. He looks like a rock star. Henley sported short, graying hair and a flannel shirt. He looks like somebody’s grandpa.
With the Eagles’ (at times) contentious past, I wondered if this show would be just Eagles hits or if they’d sprinkle in a hit or two from the members’ considerable solo careers. No Frey hits made the setlist. But Henley’s classics “Boys of Summer” and “Dirty Laundry” did, and with the top-notch harmonies and musicianship added by the other Eagles members supporting them those songs sounded fantastic. “Dirty Laundry” even featured an extended guitar solo shared by all the guitarists on the stage.
But even though he didn’t have the most prominent role as a member of the Eagles and wasn’t even in the band for their early hits, this concert quickly became The Joe Walsh Show. The band played a total of four pre- and post-Eagles classics that Walsh absolutely owned on stage. James Gang classics “Walk Away” and “Funk #49” absolutely rocked the house. Walsh played to the crowd perfectly during “Life’s Been Good,” telling the audience beforehand he hoped he could remember how it went (he did). And during the encore, the Eagles totally killed it on “Rocky Mountain Way.” Walsh played flawlessly, joked with the audience, and even hopped around the stage while playing. His slide guitar was smooth and his soloing was masterful. It would not be at all out of bounds to say he stole the show.
Even though I attended both shows held there, I’m still not 100% convinced that Busch Stadium is a good venue for a rock concert. Because the infield is off limits, the stage was once again out in centerfield. The on-field seating was probably great, but the band seems far away from the stadium seats. The sound was fine—some mentioned it was maybe too loud, but that was mostly Walsh’s songs (which was fine with me)—and the video boards were large enough for everyone to see. The backdrop of the city skyline and The Arch is a nice novelty. But I can’t imagine a concert at Busch being that much better (and, consequently, worth the ticket price) than watching a concert DVD on a really good entertainment system if you were sitting in the upper decks of the stadium. It’s not a terrible venue by any means. It’s just not ideal from a lot of the seats.
Frey introduced the group as “The band that drank more Budweiser than any other band in the last 35 years.” The backup musicians with the Eagles include a full horn section, two keyboardists, an additional drummer and an additional lead guitarist. The sound is full and the music expertly played. The Eagles is a classic rock band that knows what its audience wants and delivers. Don’t shy away from this band thinking they’ll be boring. You’ll miss one hell of a concert.
The Eagles @ Busch Stadium – 06/24/2010
Seven Bridges Road
Take It to the Limit
Peaceful Easy Feeling
I Can’t Tell You Why
One of These Nights
Walk Away – James Gang
Boys of Summer – Don Henley
The Long Run
Life’s Been Good – Joe Walsh
Dirty Laundry – Don Henley
Funk #49 – James Gang
Life in the Fast Lane
Take It Easy
Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
Photos by: Egan O'Keefe