Deacon Frey Proves Wind Beneath the Eagles’ Wings

 

EAGLES | Photo Courtesy

Iconic rock band the Eagles kick off “An Evening With the Eagles” tour dates featuring Deacon Frey and Vince Gill.

While droves of mentally-drained college students flocked south to recharge in the warmth of sandy beaches, this bird only migrated as far as the slightly warmer city of Chicago. The reason is simple- the Eagles concert and Portillo’s famous Italian beef sandwich (mostly the concert though).
The music of the Eagles has always held a special place in my heart. Witnessing the “History of the Eagles” tour in 2016 was one of the top experiences of my life. I was captivated, enthralled and near-mute by the end of the concert.

After the devastating news that founding member and co-author of my favorite song Glenn Frey had unexpectedly passed away, I wasn’t sure I wanted to see the Eagles on tour again. When it was revealed Frey’s son Deacon would be stepping in to help fill the void with the help of musician Vince Gill, I was intrigued. After all, it seemed already a better fit than Axl Rose was as the lead singer of AC/DC. However, it wasn’t until I heard the recording of the new lineup’s October performance at the Grand Ole Opry that I was convinced of the band’s future.

The Chicago show was only the second date of the tour and fourth time Deacon performed with the band, but from the very beginning, he showed the poise of a seasoned musician. It seemed the audience let out a collective sigh as the first harmonies of “Seven Bridges Road” filled the United Center. The lights rose and the crowd cheered and began to sing along.

Guitarist Joe Walsh introduced the youngest member before Deacon took the lead for “Take It Easy,\” clad in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey, just as his father had many years before. Frey expressed his gratitude and humility as he told fans what an honor and blessing it was to tour with the band. The only real mention of Glenn was a black and white photo filling the back scene at the end of “Peaceful Easy Feeling” with Deacon on vocals. It seemed that words couldn’t accurately express the band’s emotions, so they decided not to dwell on it. After all, a concert is supposed to be a party, not a somber funeral.

That’s another cool thing about concerts, though. As members of the audience, you all form this kind of collective family with the band for the duration of the concert. You definitely don’t know everyone but there is an almost telekinetic energy of reciprocal excitement and enjoyment between everyone. My friend found it pretty amusing that the guy a few seats down and I were air-drumming together without realizing. But that’s what I am talking about, the connection a concert gives its participants. There was a definite and palpable sense of community and support between the audience and the band that night.

In true Eagles fashion, the band crashed through a massive 22 song set, not forgetting to include their memorable audience interactions between songs. As always Joe Walsh was the comic relief with tales of epic proportions. A hot topic of the evening ended up being bass player Timothy B. Schmidt. Remaining drummer/vocalist Don Henley originally joked that the bassist suffered an “unfortunate gardening accident” but Schmidt told a different story. “It wasn’t a gardening accident, by the way,” Schmidt said. “It was at the hotel last night and involved a shower. It was one of those ‘help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’ moments. I can laugh about it now but I was not too pleased at the time. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to be here tonight.”

Thankfully Schmidt is said to be good as new and back on his feet within the next few days. One couldn’t help but feel bad for the poor bassist however when he was forced to hobble on and off stage to perform not one but two encore performances. His dedication to the fans was thoroughly appreciated by all in attendance.

If this Chicago show was any indication, the Eagles are strong as ever and ready to heal their wounds and those of their audience. The Eagles still rock, the infectious energy is still there and Glenn Frey lives on through son Deacon. There is no reason not to see them when they play Target Field in Minneapolis June 30. Find your tickets on Ticketmaster.

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