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Timeless Eagles aren't the same

PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, July 24, 2018

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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The Eagles have embarked on their latest road adventure armed to the teeth. By employing Vince Gill as a touring member, the collective has 30 Grammys and one former invitation from Mark Knopfler to become a full-time member of Dire Straits to its credit.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers took the stage six abreast to perform "Seven Bridges Road." With the late Glenn Frey's son Deacon as part of the band, it was very clear that their signature harmony was in fine shape on the traditional a cappella number. The always goofy Joe Walsh bid everyone "good morning" before giving props to "Duncan" Frey; to which Henley responded, "Yes that's Duncan it's spelled "D...E...A...C...O...N: as you can tell, we've been on the road a while."

Gill then introduced himself "the 61-year-old new guy." The 150-minute marathon vacillated between greatest hits show celebrating the legacy of the iconic Eagles catalog and a showcase of the 1993 tribute album: "Common Thread Songs Of The Eagles."

Gill took lead vocal on six songs, almost the same number as Henley, torched his own "Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away" and at times felt like the headliner. Nevertheless, his angelic tenor occasionally did not suit some of the more rocking songs, rendering them tepid covers, especially "Heartache Tonight." He was most effective on the soft rock numbers from the band's early days as part of the Laurel Canyon movement, especially "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Lyin' Eyes. On "Take It To The Limit," few have attempted to hit Randy Meisner's signature stratospheric high notes since he left the band, and even Gill had to drop down a register.

Guitarist Steuart Smith was hired in 2001 after Don Felder was fired due to legal disputes. His presence was not really felt until he harmonized with Walsh on the always spectacular "Hotel California" solo on a custom EBMM double-neck that is one of only two in existence. It remains one of the best live solos ever. Ranked 54th on Rolling Stone's all time greatest list, Walsh's skill was best displayed on James Gang covers "Funk #49 and "Walk Away."

Bassist Timothy B. Schmidt took care of the mellow with the always mesmerizing "I Can't Tell You Why" and one of the four studio tracks from 1991's "Hell Freezes Over," "Love Will Keep Us Alive."

Frey's son bears a striking resemblance both in guitar tone and vocals to his late father, While he handles both electric and acoustic duties with aplomb and is obviously a skilled player and vocalist, his stage presence is more of an eerie facsimile of the original member and the music had the same feel sometimes.

Frey said in the Netflix documentary, "History Of The Eagles," "You set out to become a band for our time, and you end up becoming a band for all time. The Eagles have proven they are timeless, but will also never be the same: without Frey some of their magic is gone no matter how admirably capable the musicians they bring in may be.