Editor’s note: Due to illness, this concert was postponed from May 8 to this Thursday. Tickets for the original date will be honored on the new date, however, ticketholders who cannot attend on Thursday may request a refund at the point of purchase.
After the death of guitarist and vocalist Glenn Frey in 2016, many fans wondered what would become of legendary country rock band the Eagles.
At the time, it seemed like the band was calling it a day, with drummer/vocalist Don Henley saying as much when he spoke to BBC Radio 2’s Simon Mayo in March 2016 after the remaining members of the band, accompanied by Jackson Browne, performed “Take It Easy” at that year’s Grammy Awards as a tribute to Frey.
“I think it was an appropriate farewell,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll see us performing again.”
But a year later, in March 2017, the band changed its mind, announcing Classic West and Classic East concerts and the addition of Frey’s son Deacon and country singer Vince Gill, both covering vocals and guitar, to the touring band.
The band behind hits like “Hotel California,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Desperado,” “Witchy Woman” played Seattle’s Safeco Field on Sept. 30 as part of Classic Northwest.
“While I was still in shock during some interviews after Glenn passed away, I did say that I thought that was the end of the band,” Henley told Rolling Stone in June 2017. “But I reserved the right to change my mind. Ralph Waldo Emerson said ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.’ ”
When the band announced the series of Classics concerts, some questioned the quality of a Frey-less Eagles concert.
Sure, Henley, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Joe Walsh and bassist/vocalist Timothy B. Schmit are legends in their own right, but without Frey, how would the rest of the band fare?
As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about.
“The Eagles sounded so good Saturday that no reasonable person could argue that Glenn Frey’s not being there prevented the band from putting on a sufficiently Eagles-esque performance,” Mikael Wood, pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times, said in his review of Classic West.
“The additions of Vince Gill and Deacon Frey was fitting and the other musicians in the band on drums, piano guitar, horns and strings accentuated these timeless songs,” Peter Dervin, of Northwest Music Scene, wrote in his review of Classic Northwest. “After 45 years of playing together, the Eagles soared in this performance at Safeco Field.”
In March, the band kicked off a North American tour, which again features Deacon and Gill plus Henley’s son Will on guitar.
“An Evening with the Eagles” brings the band to the Spokane Arena on Thursday.
Initial reviews of the tour have, again, been positive pretty much across the board, with Deacon Frey and Gill, in particular, getting a lot of praise.
“Some of the faces may have changed, but the sound was essentially the same,” wrote Kathryn Randall, of Chicago Concert Reviews. “Glenn’s son Deacon commanded attention come ‘Already Gone’ and the easygoing Gill putting some hearty twang into ‘Heartache Tonight.’ ”
“It doesn’t feel like a gimmick,” The Charlotte Observer’s Théoden Janes said about Deacon joining the band. “Or, OK, maybe it feels like one, a little bit; but it certainly doesn’t sound like one. It sounds … well, it sounds like the Eagles are supposed to sound.”
“While I refuse to go as far as to say that the Eagles sound better without Glenn Frey – that would be pure sacrilege – they certainly went out of their way to compensate for his absence,” Uproxx Senior Music Writer Corbin Reiff wrote, referring to the number of musicians onstage. “While the stage looked a little cluttered for some numbers, you couldn’t argue with the sound that was coming off of it.”
Speaking of sound, based on recent setlists, fans can expect to hear all the hits from throughout the band’s history, save for tunes from its most recent album, 2007’s “Long Road Out of Eden,” which doesn’t seem to be getting much love on this tour.
But classics like “Take It Easy,” “New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane” are practically guaranteed.
The Eagles have also thrown a few covers into its setlist, including Gill’s “Next Big Thing,” “Ol’ 55” by Tom Waits, “Walk Away” and “Funk #49,” both by James Gang, and, of course, Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road.”
“The show proved, unequivocally, that this incarnation of the Eagles can conjure up plenty of magic, even in the absence of Frey,” Janes said.
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