Review: Eagles pack all the hits into marathon Aloha Stadium show
  • Friday, January 18, 2019
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Review: Eagles pack all the hits into marathon Aloha Stadium show

  • KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, with Vince Gill and Deacon Frey bring their critically acclaimed 2018 North American Tour to the Aloha Stadium, marking the band’s first performance in Honolulu in nearly 14 years.

  • KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, with Vince Gill and Deacon Frey bring their critically acclaimed 2018 North American Tour to the Aloha Stadium, marking the band’s first performance in Honolulu in nearly 14 years.

  • KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, with Vince Gill and Deacon Frey bring their critically acclaimed 2018 North American Tour to the Aloha Stadium, marking the band’s first performance in Honolulu in nearly 14 years.

  • KAT WADE / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, with Vince Gill and Deacon Frey bring their critically acclaimed 2018 North American Tour to the Aloha Stadium, marking the band’s first performance in Honolulu in nearly 14 years.

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The Eagles opened a big — and rainy — rock ‘n’ roll weekend at Aloha Stadium on Friday night with a hit-packed show that showed the band’s ability to move forward after the death of Glenn Frey while also honoring his legacy.

Frey, one of the band’s main songwriters (along with Don Henley) and lead singers/guitarists, died nearly three years ago. Last year, three core members of the legendary country-rock band — drummer Henley, guitarist Joe Walsh and bassist Timothy B. Schmit, all of whom also sing lead at times — added country star Vince Gill and Frey’s son Deacon to their lineup to handle some of the load and keep “the blood” in the band, as Henley explained it to the Star-Advertiser recently.

Rock fans are notoriously fickle about their favorite singers being replaced in bands. They quickly accepted Sammy Hagar in Van Halen, Gary Cherone … not so much.

The Eagles don’t dodge the issue. After opening with some nice harmonies on “Seven Bridges Road,” Walsh introduced Deacon Frey, who took the lead on “Take It Easy.” He’s still working to establish the stage presence that his father built over decades, but he was more than able and did his papa plenty proud.

A couple of songs later, Henley stepped out from behind his drum kit to introduce Gill, who took the wheel on “Take it to the Limit,” which Frey sang lead on after Randy Meisner left the band. Gill’s easy tenor is not as gritty as Frey’s, but he also is able to soar to higher heights, and he proved more than capable as a guitarist as well.

The questions about Gill and Frey cast aside, the Eagles pulled (almost) no punches as they embarked on a nearly two-and-a-half-hour trip through their vast discography, and even some of their members’ solo work.

Their mellower hits, such as “Lyin’ Eyes” and “New Kid in Town,” are staples on the oldies and adult contemporary radio stations and have become as comfortable as a favorite blanket over the years. They were every bit as pleasant live, with Frey’s performance of “Peaceful Easy Feeling” a highlight, punctuated by his dad’s picture projected on the three large screens.

But the show’s biggest moments were the rockers. The Eagles have an unusually deep bench of guitarists, and they all got their turns to shine, including Frey and Gill, an underrated shredder. But Walsh and longtime touring guitarist Steuart Smith did the heavy lifting and were impressive throughout, particularly on “In the City,” “I Can’t Tell You Why” and, of course, “Hotel California,” which kicked off the encore (and ended it for many in the crowd, who thought the show was done and fled the strengthening downpour rather than stick around for “Desperado” and “Please Come Home for Christmas”).

Other than the above-mentioned introductions of their new members and paying proper respect to Glenn Frey, the show was low on banter and special effects. Some light tricks and smoke were pretty much it. The band prioritized getting in as many of their hits as possible (the only major omission was “Best of My Love,” the first of the band’s five No. 1 pop singles). And the audience showed the decision was a good one, erupting with applause that was beyond the perfunctory even for album tracks and minor solo hits.

Though the crowd came out to see the Eagles, fans really got two shows in one, as local singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, backed by a full band, opened with an enjoyable 80-plus minutes.

Johnson showed his local pride right off the bat, taking the stage in a shirt emblazoned with “Kahuku soccer” and later singing his school’s alma mater, admittedly to fill time.

Though he’s had several hits himself, Johnson was chatty while the Eagles were businesslike, his set as much like a neighborhood kanikapila as a concert at the state’s largest venue.

Johnson talked about the inspiration for many of his songs, including how lucky he is that he has been with his wife since they were teens so all his love songs are about the same woman.

Though he sang his biggest hits — ”Upside Down,” “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” and “Bubbletoes,” to name a few — the highlight of his set was the way he paraded out some of the biggest local stars to share the spotlight, saying that once he got the gig opening for the Eagles he had to “call my friends to see if they wanna jam so they can play Aloha Stadium too.”

Among the featured were Kawika Kahiapo, John Cruz (a chicken-skin-inducing rendition of “Island Style” with Cruz on slide guitar) and Paula Fuga (their duet “Country Road” and Bob Marley’s “Soul Shakedown”). After filling with a “newer song” about playing poker on Maui with Willie Nelson (“Willie Got Me Stoned and Took All My Money”), Johnson brought his guests out to join him on his hit “Better Together,” a fine conclusion to an amiable opening set.

Logistically, Friday night went smoothly except for the exodus from the parking lot, which took more than a half-hour for some. Hopefully, the stadium crew can get that fixed for tonight’s Guns N’ Roses show.

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