At a packed Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Friday, the Eagles opened the Canadian leg of their Hotel California tour. The first set of the concert was dedicated to this historic 1976 rock album, one of the best-selling LPs of all time. It was played in its entirety, front to back. It was a well-received revisit – an audience whispered lyrics about lost dreams, last resorts, the warm smell of colitas and a newcomer to town.
Hopeless romantics here we go again.
The tour comes at a time when countless historic artists are hitting the road, with concert ticket prices in the news. Earlier this summer, Bruce Springsteen fans united in the spit take on the high cost of tickets for his 2023 tour. The furor was fierce enough that Ticketmaster felt compelled to issue a statement explaining that artists and promoters are fixing ticket prices, not Ticketmaster.
Of course, Ticketmaster is owned by Live Nation Entertainment, which also owns concert promotion giant Live Nation. Oft-maligned seat sellers have provided statistics suggesting that outrage over the “dynamic pricing” system that was pushing VIP packages into four figures was unwarranted. According to Ticketmaster, high-priced “platinum” tickets, with varying prices (surge) based on demand, accounted for a small fraction of Springsteen tickets sold on the first day of the sale. The company said 88% of tickets were sold at fixed prices, ranging from US$60 to US$399 (before taxes and fees).
When it comes to the current accusations of rock ‘n’ roll price gouging, the Eagles have to yawn at the brouhaha. In 1994, the newly reunited band had fans and the press wringing pearls as they set the prices for their When Hell Freezes Over tour which broke the US$100 mark for the most expensive seats.
Now $100 wouldn’t get you into the Eagles building in Toronto, where nosebleed seats were $125 and accommodations in the lower bowl cost more than double – standard rates for an act of the stature of the Eagles.
Drummer and singer-songwriter Don Henley said the Hotel California was a commentary on the souring of sixties ideals of peace, love, and understanding and the rise of rock ‘n’ roll greed and hedonism in seventies Southern California. Self-criticism? Eagles? Probably not. More likely, Henley had mistaken a mirror for a window.
The themes that run through the Hotel California understand the loss of innocence and the cost of naivety. But if there are any longtime grumpy, mercenary Eagles fans who still have innocence when it comes to this group, they never paid attention in the first place.
Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine in 1979, Eagles manager Irving Azoff said the band’s motto when dealing with concert promoters and record labels was to get paid now, then pay more. late. “Find a fair price, add a third, and that’s what we get in our contracts,” he said.
This is the band whose songwriters have taken a particularly fundamental approach to the art of composing music. An eagle would suggest a minor change to a song written by two others, thus gaining partial credit for the lucrative publishing royalties: “Change a word, gain a third” is what they called it.
At Scotiabank, in a long second streak of greatest hits, the Eagles played take it easy. Thing is, these guys were always taking what they could, ruthless for that extra thirty-three and a third.
Historically, as a live band, the Eagles have never really earned a bounty. They barely recognized their audience and didn’t get along either. The glaring lack of camaraderie was a drag. Harmony for the Eagles was a pretty vocal technique, not a philosophy.
I had already been disappointed by the bland and corporate behavior of the Eagles on stage. The late Glenn Frey in particular was ill-equipped for leadership duties. Later, when he assumed more than a role of emcee, his stiff, scripted banter was painful to bear.
But the Scotiabank Arena group seemed revitalized. Celebrating their greatest album gives meaning to a band that has only released one studio album in the past 43 years. Frey, who died of cancer in 2016, was replaced by singer-songwriter and country guitarist Vince Gill, Frey’s son Deacon Frey providing guest lead vocals on take it easy, Peaceful and easy feeling and Already gone.
Joe Walsh, who first joined the band for the recording of Hotel California 46 years ago was a bustling and eerie presence as always, whether on Eagles gear or by himself Life has been good and James Gang numbers #49 and Rocky Mountain Path. Walsh rocks guitar solos and rallies the crowd for the same reason he dyes his hair blonde: to please us.
The band, along with longtime bassist Timothy B. Schmit, played nearly three hours flawlessly, with a local choir and orchestra contributing to a number of the 26 songs performed. After the Hotel California together, Henley said the band would be back after an intermission to wear us down. They did it, in the best possible way.
Buy the ticket, take the tour and smell the colitas. The Eagles are finally giving fans their money’s worth.
Eagles Hotel California the tour continues in Ottawa on September 13; Winnipeg, September 16; Saskatoon, September 18; Edmonton, September 20; Vancouver, September 22.