At lunchtime yesterday I got a text, a mate had a spare for the Eagles at Hyde Park. I agreed with my fine crew aboard Lady Lucy we would return home and 6 hours later I was watching Don Henley, Joe Walsh and co in a two hour set that sounded like an era closing.
It was not an era I’ve had much to do with, the Eagles have flown much too high for my grubby tastes. But this was one of those occasions when the “being there” was enough. I have never owned an Eagles record, never had a song of theirs on a playlist, but I found myself mesmerised by such a clean sound, such perfect playing and such a familiar bunch of songs, that I can say “I was glad I didn’t go home and watch Kendrick”.
drummer and vocalist Don Henley said to the throng of people on Sunday, as he flitted between singing from behind his kit – as on the band’s signature tune Hotel California – and playing guitar up front.
“In case we don’t pass this way again, I want to thank you all for embracing these songs, taking them into your hearts and your homes – we appreciate it,”
he added, his voice full of emotion.
With the sky turning from blue to golden-pink during their 23-song set, the Eagles were certainly treated to a fine example of a night out in the capital.
The remarkably crisp sound at the British Summer Time (BST) festival threatened to expose any flaws but the harmonies and guitar solos – with the audience treated to a fair few shreds, mostly at the hands of quick-picking Joe Walsh – floated and soared in equal measure over the 65,000-person crowd.
It proved the perfect backdrop for their parade of hits, encompassing a recording career that reached the 50-year mark this month.
During a show of more than two hours, the band – completed by Timothy Schmit and Vince Gill – showcased a repertoire of songs stretching from Tequila Sunrise to Life In The Fast Lane in a run that few bands could match.
There were guest spots during the night, with Deacon Frey – son of Glenn Frey, one of the founding members of the band, who died in 2016 – taking to the stage for renditions of Peaceful Easy Feeling and crowd favourite Take It Easy.
Tennis ace John McEnroe even appeared to surprise the punters. In London for Wimbledon commentary duties, the superfan lined up to strum along to the final number of the night, Already Gone.
In between the sing-a-longs, Henley, who dedicated his own solo track Boys Of Summer to late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, explained that London holds a special place for Eagles after recording their first album at the famous Olympic Studios in the south-west of the city.
Tracking the debut during the 1972 miners’ strikes and subsequent coal shortage, the 74-year-old recalled:
“We’d be in the middle of a take and the power would go off.”
The passion in how the crowd sang the words to Heartache Tonight, Desperado and Best Of My Love made it abundantly clear that, should this be their live swansong to the capital, Eagles have provided memories to last at least another five decades.