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Eagles in Birmingham: What was it wish to see the basic rock band at Legacy Area?

The Eagles have been round for (gulp!) half a century. The basic rock band was fashioned in 1971, launched its debut album in 1972 and is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this 12 months. Fame, followers, hits, awards, respect… you identify it, these guys have earned it.

Now contemplate the BJCC’s area in downtown Birmingham. The 15,000-seat venue — a key a part of the Birmingham-Jefferson Conference Complicated — has a historical past that spans 46 years. The sector opened in 1976 for leisure and sports activities occasions, and has been a mainstay on town’s live performance scene ever since.

The Eagles? Iconic within the music world.

The BJCC’s area? An establishment in Alabama, for certain.

However on the 50-year mark (or near it), it is pure to ask the query: Is it time for both of them to name it quits? Is the veteran band nonetheless vibrant? Is the venerable venue definitely worth the journey?

Music lovers right here acquired a solution this week — and a powerful one — when the Eagles returned to Birmingham’s area (now often called the Legacy Area on the BJCC) for a cease on the “Lodge California” tour. This is what we realized on the present on Monday, Nov. 21.

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ARENA UPDATE

First issues first: Legacy Area appears to be like nice. If you have not been to a present there over the previous 12 months, you have not skilled a $125 million renovation that reworked the place — a hulking concrete construction with a definite retro vibe — into to an attention grabbing showplace that is brighter and extra modern.

This main mission, which included every little thing however the area’s outer shell, took about 19 months to finish. Legacy Area closed for renovation in March 2020 and reopened in December 2021. For a few of us, the Eagles live performance marked our first time again.

Modifications on the area are hanging, particularly whenever you’re approaching the primary entrance on Ninth Avenue North close to nineteenth Road. There are home windows galore, blazing lights and a big, welcoming plaza. You may see the brand new Metropolis Stroll close by — an enormous enchancment over the gloomy, soiled parking hall below the freeway — and it is very nice to see the strolling paths, brilliant inexperienced turf, benches, skate park and extra.

When ticket holders enter the sector, the group move has modified to make motion simpler. As a substitute of instantly shuffling down a reasonably tight hall surrounding the sector’s central bowl, viewers members are cut up, both continuing to seats on the ground or taking an escalator, elevator or steps to the higher sections. This may not sound like an enormous deal, however it’s.

The sector additionally boasts new seats, a brand new lighting system, new sound system, new membership ranges for socializing, new viewers suites, new artist suites, new locker rooms, new concession stands and extra. Music lovers will not see every little thing after they’re attending a live performance—they’re too busy discovering their seats, standing in line for artist merchandise, grabbing a beer and perhaps deciding on one thing to eat—however the place appears to be like and feels revitalized.

RELATED: Look contained in the $125M renovation of Legacy Area in Alabama

Additionally, did anybody discover the Wi-Fi capability seems to be a lot better when the place is packed? Submit these area selfies, individuals.

CROWD DYNAMICS

As you may anticipate, the Eagles draw an older crowd. We noticed a number of youngsters with their mother and father and a sprinkling of 20- and 30-somethings on the area on Monday. However for probably the most half, the viewers was dominated by mature followers—middle-agers and seniors—who had been round within the ’70s (and most probably listening to the radio) when the Eagles had been at their peak. These people stood for a lot of the three-hour present, danced in entrance of their seats, enthusiastically applauded and usually showered the band with love. They offered out the home and had been able to rock. And naturally, they had been clearly well-versed within the Eagles catalogue.

Movie star sightings? From what we might inform, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban, a well known Eagles fan, was not on scene on the BJCC. Former US Sen. Doug Jones was noticed, nonetheless, making his solution to his seats by way of the escalator.

RELATED: Did Auburn guide the Eagles throughout Iron Bowl week to distract Nick Saban?

Former US Senator Doug Jones arrives to see the Eagles carry out at their live performance on the BJCC Area, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (Vasha Hunt | preps.al.com)Vasha Hunt

STAGE PRESENCE

The Eagles are not any strangers to Birmingham, enjoying right here a number of occasions over time. From what we will inform, the band made at the least two appearances on the downtown area within the late Nineteen Seventies, and returned in 1995, after a prolonged breakup, on the “Hell Freezes Over” tour. The Eagles most up-to-date live shows on the BJCC — in 2022, 2018, 2013, 2009 and 2002 — have discovered the musicians in elder-statesmen mode, performing best hits to adoring audiences.

Been there, completed that, proper? However anybody who assumed Monday’s present can be a stale retread, or drained rehash, was mistaken. The Eagles got here and conquered. The 2022 lineup of the band —— Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and Vince Gill — supplied a strong three-hour efficiency that was visually compelling (by way of enormous, crystal-clear HD screens that had been a part of the stage set) , sonically dynamic (by way of musicianship extraordinary and amped-up sound gear) and constant from begin to end. (Skilled opinion: Whoo!)

The Eagles carried out all 9 cuts from the 1976 “Lodge California” LP through the first set, then returned for a set of signature tunes. Almost 30 songs had been on the agenda, offering ample alternatives for the group to sing alongside, categorical appreciation and really feel nostalgic for the deep, wealthy Eagles catalogue, which blends rock, nation and folks.

Eagles’ emblems — evocative storytelling, grab-your-ears instrumentals and wealthy harmonies — have not diminished over time, though longtime followers in Birmingham certainly famous, and mourned, the absence of founding member Glenn Frey, a singer, guitarist and songwriter who died in 2016.

The Eagles are survivors, although, and if a band goes to proceed with out considered one of its prime movers, that is the way in which to do it. Henley remains to be there, in fact, main the band with undiminished expertise and plain authority. His vocals by him on Monday did n’t disappoint — at age 75, Henley sounds sharp and passionate — and he alternated amongst drums, percussion and guitar with the benefit of lengthy expertise.

Singer/guitarist Walsh (fiery, colourful) and singer/bassist Schmit (calm, grounded) are important to the band’s present lineup, as nicely, including their abilities and personalities to the combo. And we will not heap sufficient reward on singer/guitarist Gill, a rustic star in his personal proper, who slipped seamlessly into the Eagles in 2017.

On Monday, Gill dealt with the lead vocals on many songs that had been Frey emblems, making use of his pure tenor in an efficient, emotional means. He additionally dominated on “Take it to the Restrict,” a Randy Meisner basic that requires a crystalline falsetto. Gill’s guitar prowess was evident—he supplied a number of understated but wizardly solos—and he served the music with supreme talent.

As a bonus, Deacon Frey made a visitor look on the BJCC, taking vocal leads on songs comparable to “Take It Simple,” “Peaceable Simple Feeling” and “Already Gone.” Seeing Glenn Frey’s son on stage tugged on the heartstrings; he supplied a bodily and sonic hyperlink to his father, together with the sense that the Frey music dynasty continues.

Considerable kudos are due, as nicely, to guitarist/singer Steuart Smith, a longtime member of the Eagles’ touring band. His contributions from him to the live performance can’t be underestimated, and Smith is fairly darn wonderful on lead guitar. He is a low-key power to be reckoned with.

SATISFYING SETLIST

Followers had been primed for traditional materials — in spite of everything, that is the “Lodge California” tour — and the Eagles delivered with gusto. What higher album to showcase than the monster hit of 1976, which made the well-known group much more famend? The primary set, which centered on “Lodge California,” got here off with a theatrical flourish. Then Henley stepped to the entrance of the stage and mentioned, “We’ll take a brief break, develop into our work garments and play every little thing else we all know.”

He was exaggerating, in fact, but it surely felt like a mission achieved throughout the remainder of the present, which included “One in every of These Nights,” “Take it to the Restrict,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Better of My Love, ” “Heartache Tonight,” “Desperado,” “Tequila Dawn,” “Witchy Girl,” “Take It Simple,” “Already Gone,” “The Boys of Summer season” and extra. (See the total setlist right here.)

Walsh (who turned 75 on Sunday, the day earlier than the Birmingham present) grabbed the highlight for “Life’s Been Good,” “Rocky Mountain Means,” “Within the Metropolis” and “Funk #49,” a classic gem by the James Gang . One other spotlight got here from Schmidt, evoking a silky R&B vibe on “I Cannot Inform You Why.”

PLACE COLOR

A couple of vital ties to Alabama made this live performance much more particular. One of many gadgets on the Eagles’ setlist, “Seven Bridges Highway,” boasts a robust hyperlink to the state. The lyrics had been written by Steve Younger and impressed by Woodley Highway in Montgomery. Additionally, the Eagles closed the three-hour live performance with a cool cowl of Randy Newman’s “Birmingham,” that includes Henley on lead vocals. (He mentioned it was “a bit one thing we threw collectively this afternoon.”)

Lastly, Monday’s efficiency was drastically enriched by a neighborhood string part, greater than 35 gamers robust, largely pulled from the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Led by Eagles concertmaster Erica Swindell, the ensemble of violins, cellos, violas and basses appeared on a raised platform, including marvelous depth and texture to a number of songs. (Henley known as the troupe “the Lodge California orchestra.”) They had been joined by a choir of singers from Opera Birmingham, who raised angelic voices on excessive.

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