A note wasn’t played Thursday night inside Bridgestone Arena until the album started spinning – literally.
Before a cymbal splash or the strumming of a guitar, a silent, stoic figure dressed head-to-toe in black took to the stage in downtown Nashville and pulled an LP out from under her arm. Holding a sun-drenched album cover accented with blue neon words, he slipped a vinyl record to thunderous applause. He placed the album on a turntable at one side of the stage and dropped the needle.
A few laps after completing this nostalgic ritual and the Eagles appeared behind a curtain to play the opening notes of the band’s ultimate contribution to the rock music canon: “Hotel California.”
As if the grooves from the 45-year-old album came to life inside Bridgestone Arena, the band – made up of longtime members Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh and adopted country great Vince Gill – went on to perform “Hotel California” in its entirety.
And spanning three hours, the nine-song “Hotel California” performance proved just part of a show that took audiences through a set of Eagles, Walsh and Henley hits written before and after the 1975 album.
“Glad to be back here in Nash-Vegas,” Henley said with a small smile. “Our mission tonight is to give you approximately three hours of vacation time away from all the chaos and turmoil going on in the world.”
A stay in Nashville at the ‘Hotel California’
If Thursday night was about checking into “the California Hotel,” then Nashville deserves a corner suite.
Beneath a shiny blue sign that spelled out the album title, the Nashville artists took center stage during the “Hotel” performance. The Eagles enlisted Fisk Jubilee Singers for a rousing rendition of “The Last Resort” album, and alongside Country Music Hall of Famer Gill, bandleader Jim Ed Norman joined the band on stage for lead a live orchestra during the album’s string arrangements. .
And hearing “Hotel California” in its entirety on stage — including the added layers of orchestra and choir — proved a theatrical and invigorating way to revisit a collection of rock songs shared by generations of fans.
Local love for Vince Gill
After checking out the entire album (pun intended), the band swapped vinyl laps for a pre-verbal mixtape covering the country-rock days before “Hotel California” and the slick rock that followed.
Gill sang many of the hits previously carried by band co-founder Glenn Frey, who died in 2016. As of 2017, Gill and Frey’s son Deacon Frey took on live duties for the late member until earlier this year, when the second-generation Eagles member left the group.
On Thursday night in Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry member led a handful of fan-favorite songs, from “Take It Easy” to “Heartache Tonight” and “Take It To The Limit.”
“We’re delighted to have the man from your hometown here with us tonight,” Henley said, presenting Gill to a long standing ovation that left the latter bowing several times in appreciation. “It’s a real treat for us to have him in the group and [to] making music with Vince. One of the best in America.”
The hits are rolling
After finishing “Hotel California,” Henley said he and the band would return to “play everything we know” — and he did. pretty one of course on this promise.
The Eagles haven’t cut corners on what fans expect from a night out with the longtime arena outfit. Walsh ripped takes on “Life’s Been Good,” his goofy ode to self-awareness, and “Funk #49,” James Gang’s crowd-pleasing cut that predates the Eagles. Schmit offered his soft-rock staple “I Can’t Tell You Why” and Henley had the audience singing along with “Witchy Woman”, “One Of These Nights” and “Desperado”, to name a few- one.
The set ended with a four-song encore, including another trip through Walsh’s catalog—”Rocky Mountain Way”—and Henley’s most important solo song, “Boys Of Summer.”
Closing with “The Best Of My Love,” the band didn’t put the needle down on their last song before dedicating the rendition to Glenn Frey and Taylor Hawkins, the late Foo Fighters drummer and friend of the band, said Henley.
“In three or four days, this group will celebrate 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
Box “Hotel California”
- Hotel California
- New kid in town
- Life at high speed
- Wasted time
- Recovery of lost time
- victim of love
- Pretty maids right away
- Try and love again
- The Last Resort (with the Fisk Jubilee Singers)
Greatest Hits Set
- Seven Bridges Road
- take it easy
- One of those nights
- Peaceful and easy feeling
- witch woman
- Take it to the limit
- Tequila Sunrise
- In the city
- I can’t tell you why
- lying eyes
- These shoes
- Life Has Been Good (Joe Walsh song)
- Already gone
- Funk #49 (James Gang song)
- heartache tonight
- Rocky Mountain Way (Joe Walsh song)
- Boys of Summer (song by Don Henley)
- The best of my love