The Eagles | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Eagles


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Two myths prevail about the Eagles. The first is that they typified southern California rock 'n' roll excess in the 1970s; the second, that their 1994 tour was an overpriced disaster. Both are half wrong. For the first, the Eagles' decadence was greatly ameliorated by their stunning evocations of it, most notably on their ten-million-plus-selling Hotel California. Leaving aside the years they spent tooling a follow-up (their swan song, The Long Run), the group typified hardworking perfectionism, both in the studio (where leaders Glenn Frey and Don Henley rewrote their bandmates' songs) and onstage. And for the second, their 1994 tour was an overpriced half disaster. The band opened their World Music Theatre appearance with an extremely persuasive five-song suite from their masterwork--the sound perfect, vocals on the mark, guitarists Don Felder and Joe Walsh proprietarily stretching out the title song's closing fanfare. From the euphoric harmonies of "Lyin' Eyes" and "Tequila Sunrise" to rapturous runs at two of Don Henley's best solo songs--a quiet, moving "Heart of the Matter" and a keening "Boys of Summer"--the show's entire first half was unassailable. Then came the horror. Never have I seen such a good show go so bad so fast. After a shudder-inducing "Funk #49" (the classic-rock nugget from Walsh's old band, the James Gang) came one of Henley's dumbest songs, the media-bashing "Dirty Laundry." And at that point the band was just getting started on sucking. Frey's "Smuggler's Blues" threatened to be the absolute low point, but it was trumped by Henley's mugging on the puerile "All She Wants to Do Is Dance." The very maw of hell beckoned when the group went into a new Henley opus, "Get Over It," a bandwagon-jumping song about the alleged wave of victimhood sweeping society, this from one of the Western Hemisphere's all-time greatest complainers. "Old Billy," Henley wailed--referring, insipidly, to Shakespeare--"was right / Let's kill all the lawyers, kill 'em tonight." Henley, of course, keeps a good half dozen legal teams in business, fighting with his old record label and his bandmates and negotiating two-million-a-night concert fees. Me, I have a dictionary that has a picture of Henley under the entry "hypocritical asshole." Those contemplating shelling out the $93 the band demands for nonstratospheric seats are welcome to come over to my place instead: I'll slap you upside the head for half that. Saturday, 8 PM, United Center, 1901 W. Madison; 559-1212 or 455-4500.

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