The Eagles – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019

The Eagles – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019

The absolute highlight of my concert life was being able to see for myself one of the most epic rock bands in history the Eagles. Being brought up with music of this genre and calibre my anticipation was at an all-time high and it grew with every closing km on the way to Spark Arena last night.

WORDS BY KIMBERLEY JONES | PHOTOS BY BRAD HOLLAND

I heard there had been sound checks done every day since Saturday and among other announcements we were told there would be no intermission and The Eagles would play with no opening act. I was sitting almost to the side of the fully kitted out stage, drums, two pianos, 6 microphones up front and a percussion area, which was flooded in blue lights. There was only a roped barrier between the front row and the stage so those on floor were due for a seriously up close and personal evening and possibly sore necks for looking up so much. I was sure ready to take it to the limit!!!

The Eagles hit the stage just after 8pm to fill all six places up front and started our night in perfect synchrony with Seven Bridges. The screens behind the stage filled with starry skies and we were off!  Joe Walsh offered a warm welcome to Deacon Frey, son of the late Glen Frey who took centre stage and lead us into Take It Easy. With Don on drums and an electric solo by Joe, I was still in awe that actual rock legends were mere meters away from me.

One Of These Nights showed off the impeccable harmonies of the band and Don’s superb falsetto. “Thanks for coming out on a Tuesday. It’s good to be back in your beautiful country” Don said and after spotting someone with a phone out followed up with, “Be here now, make memories.”

Confiding that he “Never felt so good to be so far from home” Don went on to say they were found to play us about two and a half hours of music for two reasons. First, because we deserved it and second because they could.

Introducing Vince Gill as one of America’s most beloved singer/songwriters Vince stepped up on the far left of stage and produced a powerful performance of Take It To The Limit.  Vince joined the band in 2017 along with Deacon Frey after the extremely sad loss of Glenn Frey.  Don recapped the last few years for the band as 2016 being a year of great sadness and loss, 2017 being a year of healing and 2018 was a year of appreciation. 

Vince proceeded to lead all on stage through Tequila Sunrise accompanied by an accordion I believe to be played by John Corey.  My personal favourite Eagle, Timothy B Schmit then came forward for Witchy Woman starting with a solo by Don on drums, then Tim with bass guitar and then the electric guitars as yellow lights bathed the stage.  That’s when I spotted the brass section and I mean section!  The brass included trumpets, a saxophone, trombone and a bass saxophone.

In The City had red lights cover the stage including first few rows and, to the thorough appreciation of the crowd, images of Auckland played on the screens behind stage including amazing shots of the Sky Tower. After the song finished Tim said to the crowd,” never know what you gonna get on stage with Joe but it’s always good! Thank you all for coming out on a school night.”

I Can’t Tell You Why had Steuart Smith show off with a great guitar solo on the far right of the stage.  Often seen to be jamming with Joe, Steuart clearly had plenty of skill and knew how to make the most of his guitar.  We were then set to grooving to New Kid In Town by Vince. I thought I could hear the crowd slowly gathering momentum and starting to sing along but wasn’t quite sure.  No one had yet to leave their seat however that could be attributed to the demographic of those attending. Last night was an all-ages concert and I did hear one girl, possibly around 15, say that this was her first ever concert. Man, what a way to start!! After last night, I’m not sure who you would want to go and see after starting with these rock gods!

Deacon came forward for his turn to address crowd and admitted this was his first time in New Zealand and it was “insane”. “This is a blast.” Deacon would have made his late father so very proud with his passionate Peaceful Easy Feeling where at the end of the song a huge picture of Glenn was displayed on the big screens behind the stage.  This, of course, got raucous applause and screams from the crowd to show their appreciation of both Deacon & Glenn.

A piano solo started us for Ol’ 55 with Vince at lead vocals yet again and was followed by Lyin’ Eyes. All the while Don bounced between front of stage on electric guitar and the drums at the back occasionally donning a head set so he could play the percussion section.  Throughout the night with all the passion with which Don belted out the beat I never saw the slightest sign of him being tired or out of breath.  For the whole band in fact. The pace was exactly as I remember it from my childhood and the sound was just spot on. 

Don told us that in 1994 they got back together after almost fourteen years apart to release a live album featuring our next song, Love Will Keep Us Alive. Tim took the lead in his red flannel shirt and jeans and go the crowd standing before the song starts. OMG there is life in the audience finally. 

Vince steps up to the microphone for his turn to address the crowd and easily leads us through one of his songs from “way back”, Slippin Away.’ Joe and Vince both got a chance for some guitar solos before we smoothly transitioned into Those Shoes. 

Deacon lead Already Gone and it is 100% true what I had heard about him. He really has stepped into some big shoes but is doing a remarkable job. Both vocally and musically.  The horns came back on stage and Joe sang Walk Away, only his second lead of the night.  

“Everybody ok???!!!! Everybody say ‘HEY!!’ Everybody say ‘EH’ I need that for the next song!” Joe shouts. Life’s Been Good gave the crowd more to scream about before Heartache Tonight had more on their feet with hands in the air and some on the floor dancing like no one was watching all the while being encouraged by Timothy.

A phenomenal horn solo was featured during Funk 49 before we cruised into Fast Lane. The transition between songs included guitar swaps virtually after every song. These were often which meant lights down but were well executed so there wasn’t much time for the crowd to get their breathes back before we were onto another melody.

The Eagles exited stage left at this stage but were back shortly afterwards after thunderous stamping, screaming, whistling and yahooing.  Hotel California was the encore song and finally I actually heard the crowd over the band. I was waiting and was not disappointed with the delivery of perhaps their most famous single.

But oh no, we hadn’t had enough yet! Again a short spell off stage, the Eagles came back to perform Rocky Mountain Road but I was unable to see Don on the stage.  All became clear as the lights dimmed for the next song and I saw a dark figure slowing walking out from back stage.  Don edged his way to the microphone to take centre stage with the rest of the band being a step or 2 back and produced a powerful performance of Desperado.  Blue lights flooded the stage and the crowd sang along with all their hearts. As is becoming the norm, I find, Joe came back on stage with not only a New Zealand iconic piece of clothing but a Maori All Blacks cap. Once the crowd saw this, the arena erupted in noise.

Let Somebody Love You was next and was by far the loudest of the evening. Don ended the song with a spotlight on him alone and a piano was the only accompaniment.

“The crew is not prepare for surprises,” Don laughed as we were treated to another smash hit, Boys of Summer. The Long Run brought the evening to a close with the band collecting together centre stage and taking bows to tremendous applause.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to see such an amazing band of people as well as musicians, I am sad that I didn’t get to see more of Don. I couldn’t name another band that has been through so much and yet has remained such a close knit family unit and has shared equal successes. The next two shows in New Zealand are bound to set some standards high for those that try to follow in the footsteps of such pure grit.

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