Eagles Soar To Rapt Applause
by Mark Lee for the Telegraph
There were fireworks before the main event on Saturday night as the Dixie Chicks, country music's most belligerent
belles, turned in a fizzing display of barely contained fury and indignation.
They refrained from the sort of speech-making that landed them in so much trouble on a previous visit: no repeat
of chief Chick Natalie Maines' outburst expressing dismay that they shared a home state with George W Bush. But the songs
showed that, boy, these three stroppy Texans are still mad as hell. And unrepentant.
There was plenty of the close-harmony, jingle-jangle mourning that makes country what it is, but the highlights
of their mesmerising support slot were Lubbock or Leave It, a thunderous condemnation of hypocrisy in "a small religious town
with high rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs", and Not Ready to Make Nice, Maines' defiant response to all the death threats
she has received in the past three years.
Then the Chicks flew and the Eagles landed, with the country-rock veterans showing no reluctance to hammer
home their politics.
At one point, founder member Don Henley introduced the gospel-tinged singalong Hole in the World, written in
the aftermath of September 11, 2001, as "our little prayer that, when we do get some new leadership in America, it'll be wiser".
The applause was long and loud.
Mostly, however, this was an occasion for celebration, and the band whose Greatest Hits 1971-75 is still America's
bestselling album ever, with 27 million copies shifted, had no trouble filling two and a half hours with crowd-pleasing classics.
They opened with Take It Easy and Witchy Woman, both from their first, eponymous album.
Like much of the Eagles' material, these are songs that conjure up images of the American West: Big Country
landscapes, Cadillacs on arrow-straight roads, nights under endless desert skies. Curious, then, as Henley recalled, that
they were recorded only three or four miles down the road from here, in the leafy London suburb of Barnes.
All the early hits followed, among them Peaceful Easy Feeling, One of These Nights, Lyin' Eyes and Tequila
Sunrise. And they were executed beautifully: Henley and co-founder Glenn Frey have lost none of their precision or passion.
The real energy, however, lay elsewhere.
It's easy to think of Joe Walsh, one of the most innovative and most under-rated guitarists to emerge in the
'70s, as the new kid in town, even though he's been with the band for more than 30 years. As Walsh's biggest solo hit attests,
Life's Been Good to him, and Joe's been good to the Eagles.
He added a droll, edgy roughness to the band's smooth harmonies, and it's no coincidence that their finest
album, Hotel California, was their first with him in the line-up. On Saturday night, Walsh's Funk # 49 and Rocky Mountain
Way teetered on the edge of heavy-metal cacophony, but they were the songs that brought the stadium to its feet.
Encore followed encore, and everyone knew that there'd be no going home until the final strains of the soulful,
anthemic Desperado had wafted into the balmy summer night.