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A note wasn’t played Thursday night inside Bridgestone Arena until the album began spinning — literally.
Before one cymbal splash or the strum of a guitar, a silent, stoic figure wearing head-to-toe black stepped on stage in downtown Nashville and pulled out an LP from under his arm. Holding up an album sleeve sun-soaked artwork accented by blue neon words, he slipped out a vinyl record to roaring applause. He laid the album on a turntable situated to one side of the stage and dropped the needle.
A few spins after completing this nostalgic ritual and The Eagles appeared from behind a curtain to play the opening notes to the band’s ultimate contribution to rock music canon: “Hotel California.”
As if the grooves on the 45-year-old album popped to life inside Bridgestone Arena, the band — featuring longtime members Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh and adopted country great Vince Gill — proceeded to perform “Hotel California” in its entirety.
And at a three-hour runtime, the nine-song “Hotel California” performance proved only one part of a show that took audiences through a steamrolling set of Eagles, Walsh and Henley hits penned before and after the 1975 album.
“Glad to be back here in Nash-Vegas,” Henley said with a small smile. “Our mission this evening is to give you about a three-hour vacation from all the chaos and turmoil that’s going on in the world.”
A Nashville stay at ‘Hotel California’
If Thursday night was about checking into “Hotel California,” then Nashville deserves a corner suite.
Under a glowing blue sign that spelled the album’s title, Nashville artists took center stage during the “Hotel” performance. The Eagles enlisted Fisk Jubilee Singers for a rousing rendition of album closer “The Last Resort,” and alongside Country Music Hall of Fame band member Gill, Music Row conductor Jim Ed Norman joined the band on stage to lead a live orchestra during album string arrangements.
And hearing “Hotel California” in-full on stage — including layers added by the orchestra and choir — proved a theatrical, reinvigorating way to revisit a collection of rock songs shared by generations of fans.
Local love for Vince Gill
After checking out of the album set (pun intended), the band traded vinyl spins for a preverbal mixtape spanning the country-rock days pre-dating “Hotel California” and the smooth rock that followed.
Gill sang many of the hits previously carried by band co-founder Glenn Frey, who died in 2016. Beginning in 2017, Gill and Frey’s son Deacon Frey took up live duties for the late member until earlier this year, when the second generation Eagles member exited the band.
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Thursday night in Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry member led a handful of fan-favorite singalongs, from “Take It Easy” to “Heartache Tonight” and “Take It To The Limit.”
“We’re delighted to have your hometown man up here with us this evening,” Henley said, introducing Gill to an extended ovation that left the latter bowing multiple times in appreciation. “It’s a real treat for us to have him in the band and [to] make music with Vince. One of America’s finest.”
The hits roll on
After wrapping “Hotel California,” Henley said he and the band would return to “play everything else we know” — and he made pretty good on that promise.
The Eagles didn’t cut corners on what fans expect from a night with the long-running arena outfit. Walsh ripped up takes on “Life’s Been Good,” his ode to goofy self-awareness, and “Funk #49,” the crowd-pleasing James Gang cut that pre-dates The Eagles. Schmit offered his soft-rock staple “I Can’t Tell You Why” and Henley kept the audience singing with “Witchy Woman,” “One Of These Nights” and “Desperado,” to name a few.
The set ended with a four-song encore, including one more trip to Walsh’s catalog — “Rocky Mountain Way” — and Henley’s foremost solo song, “Boys Of Summer.”
Closing with “The Best Of My Love,” the band didn’t put the needle down on its last song before dedicating the rendition to Glenn Frey and Taylor Hawkins, the late Foo Fighters drummer and friend of band, Henley said.
“In three or four days, this band marks its 50th anniversary,” Henley said. “‘Take It Easy’ was released on May 1, 1972. It’s been a hell of a ride and we appreciate you sticking with us.”
The Eagles “Hotel California” tour continues Friday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ setlist in Nashville
‘Hotel California’ set
- Hotel California
- New Kid In Town
- Life In The Fast Lane
- Wasted Time
- Wasted Time Reprise
- Victim of Love
- Pretty Maids All In A Row
- Try And Love Again
- The Last Resort (with the Fisk Jubilee Singers)
Greatest hits set
- Seven Bridges Road
- Take It Easy
- One Of These Nights
- Peaceful Easy Feeling
- Witchy Woman
- Take It To The Limit
- Tequila Sunrise
- In The City
- I Can’t Tell You Why
- Lyin’ Eyes
- Those Shoes
- Life’s Been Good (Joe Walsh song)
- Already Gone
- Funk #49 (James Gang song)
- Heartache Tonight
- Rocky Mountain Way (Joe Walsh song)
- Boys of Summer (Don Henley song)
- The Best of My Love