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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 4:31 p.m., Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eagles put on a classic show

By Chad Pata
Special to The Advertiser


• 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

• Blaisdell Arena

• $65, $95, $150, $250, at the Blaisdell box office and Ticketmaster locations

• (877) 750-4400, www.ticketmaster.com

Also: The Eagles perform at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the A&B Amphitheater, Maui Arts & Cultural Center; food and beverage service from 5:30 p.m.; $75, $95, $150, $250, at the box office; (808) 242-7469, www.mauiarts.org

The Eagles in concert provide the opportunity to see one of the quintessential rock bands of a generation.

What other band could you listen to playing a three-hour set and without ever having owned an album, know every song?

Now the critics do have a right to judge, and the band is pure formula.

If improvisational jam sessions are your bag, you would have been bored stiff. But for those whose youth is soundtracked by The Eagles, the band lives up to the Walsh line, "Everybody's so different; I haven't changed."

The fans mostly matched the band: lots of baby boomers with bad pony tails and concert attire that had not seen the light of day in years. Also like the band, the audience started pretty sedate. No one even stood up when the guys took the stage, preferring to clap and whistle politely from their seats.

Starting out with their more mellow tracks like "Witchy Woman" and "One of These Nights," The Eagles helped the crowd stretch out before hitting them with the heavy artillery.

Onstage, the band is backed by a supporting cast of two keyboardists, four horn players, a percussionist and the amazing Steuart Smith on guitar.

Why a fourth guitarist is needed isn't readily apparent to an outside observer, but a welcome addition he was, as Joe Walsh took a back seat to Smith throughout almost the entire show and let him do the heavy lifting.

In fact, it wasn't until two hours in that Walsh truly took back the lead guitar during "Walk Away," which finally brought the somnambulant crowd to its feet.

That is one of the notable things about The Eagles live: With all the talent the other three possess, what truly turns the crowd on is the loutish behavior of Walsh.

He's the John Belushi of the bunch. His voice can't hold a candle to Don Henley and Glenn Frey, and yet when he started stumbling through a version of his solo hit "Life's Been Good," the audience just screamed along and forgave his gaffs, although he missed entire lines in the song.

"I've been here before, but I don't remember it," says Walsh, who donned a helmet camera to film the audience when he looked at them. "Maybe I'll remember this time, or maybe not."

The rest of the band, however, could not have been more staid and professional. Bassist Timothy Schmit's voice during "I Can't Tell You Why" was as mournful as it was beautiful.

It took a rare bit of humor from Frey to bring the crowd out of the daze Schmit put them in.

"I'd like to dedicate this next song to my first wife, Plaintiff," said Frey before launching into "Lyin' Eyes."

Frey, despite being the center of the band, is the only one who did seem to be showing his age a bit. During "New Kid In Town" he would back away from the mic rather than lean in on the high notes during the chorus.

He fessed up to it though, telling the crowd those "were the highest notes that he could hit in his natural voice, 30 years ago."

That aside, The Eagles' harmonies sounded as pure and clean as they did when they got together in the early 1970s. And for this nostalgic evening, at $250 a pop, the audience directly disobeyed Henley's admonition in "The Boys of Summer," where he preaches "Don't look back, you can never look back."

With The Eagles crooning to them for a night, looking back was in the cards for the Honolulu fans, and they seemed to like what they saw.