Music Matters

Confessions of an Eagles rock band groupie: How to make Don Henley smile

Confessions of an Eagles rock groupie: How to make Don Henley smile

The Eagles band
The Eagles, from left. Joe Walsh, Timothy Schmit, Don Henley and Glenn Frey Eagles/Facebook
Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit perform at Eagles concert
Glenn Frey, center, made sure that those in the front row didn't text during songs. Photo by Jane Howze
Don Henley
Could it be — Don Henley smiles? Photo by Jane Howze
The Eagles band
Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit perform at Eagles concert
Don Henley

LOS ANGELES — I really did not get the Eagles until I saw a documentary about the band at the Sundance Film Festival last January. But I was so enthralled I rushed out to buy tickets to their one performance slated for 2013 in Las Vegas, only to find out the following week that they had booked a 50-city "goodbye" tour.

Fortunately, with my business travels I was able to see them again in New York, Dallas, Birmingham and Philadelphia.

Attending a recent concert in southern California, where they are performing a series of concerts through Jan. 25, was almost an afterthought.  Because I reviewed the Philly concert for CultureMap, I got linked up to an Eagles fan club who got first shot at tickets for the newly re-opened Forum in Los Angeles.  I signed up as a lark, only to learn I had scored tickets in the third row. Word was that they would wrap up their tour in LA and call their days as Eagles fini.  Of course, once I committed to go, they announced 20 or 30 more dates, including a stop in Houston next month and a European tour.

So what is there new to say about this concert?

The Eagles performed "Seven Bridges," which was not done at previous concerts, and it was wildly received.

Otherwise, the performance didn't have a note or word out of place. Even Glenn Frey's repartee of, "I'm from Detroit where mother is half a word," was said at the exact same moment in the same way. The only thing I noticed different was the concert started at 8:26 p.m. rather than 8:05 as usual. 

There are crazy people who sit in the front rows of concerts. I found this to be true at the 2012 Paul McCartney show at Minute Maid Park and it just as true here as a woman behind me got so drunk that she fell over on me as she tried to dance. She yelled. She cursed. She sung badly and loudly. Thankfully her boyfriend took her home before the end.

What started as a mild admonishment from Frey at concerts last summer that "you guys in the front rows, put away your cameras and phones and listen to the music" has become almost a witch hunt as imposing security guards kept walking up and down the aisles in the front looking for cellphones. But anyone who knows anything about the Eagles knows that they are control freaks. And most of us stealthily got our pictures.

Frey asked those in front to stay seated during ballads, which resulted in much of the front section staying seated more than they would have normally. I think we all weren't clear what was a ballad and what wasn't since many of their songs are in that in-between space.

Although I know only a handful of people in LA, what are the chances of running into three of them at the concert, including one who was sitting directly in front of me? Count me grateful.

And count the Eagles grateful, too. Unlike the other concerts where they left the stage so quickly that it appeared they were rushing to catch a bus, this time they went to each part of the stage, made eye contact and received the accolades they so richly deserved. 

And I actually saw Don Henley smile — first time in six concerts. The band looked connected and they did connect. And, when they're at Toyota Center on Feb. 21, I won't be too tired to go with my friends.