With over five decades of collective and individual achievements among them, Eagles have reached rarified air. Nearly all the original members of the country-rock group that are on speaking terms with founding member Don Henley are still alive, still in remarkably good health, and somehow looking far younger than their actual ages. Their music still sells at a comfortable clip as well as popping up with regularity on classic rock radio and streaming playlists named “OK, Boomer.”
In 2023, the Eagles are now more an institution than a musical group. And like most artists of their vintage, seeing the group live becomes a matter of both excitement and trepidation. How well or poorly can these men replicate the songs of their youth?
The answer to that question: impressively well. On Sunday night at Portland Oregon’s Moda Center, as the band opened up their 2023 North American tour (get tickets here), they hit nearly every mark and still managed to toss a few surprises into their three-hour set.
First, though, Eagles needed to deal with the business at hand. As this run of shows is dubbed the 2023 “Hotel California Tour,” the band got underway by playing their 1976 album in full. This included a corny bit of stagecraft with a wizened looking gent opening the night by traipsing slowly across stage with a copy of Hotel California under his arm before laying the LP on a turntable and dropping the needle. (The side flip was handled later by a buxom blonde in a suggestive black dress.)
From there, the Eagles — these days consisting primarily of Henley, bassist Timothy B. Schmit, guitarist Joe Walsh, and fantasy camp lottery winner Vince Gill — steadily knocked out each song on the record in order, with every moment recreated with care and accuracy. That meant pulling in members of the Oregon Symphony and a choir from the University of Portland to augment the lusher moments of “Wasted Time,” “Pretty Maids All in a Row,” and “Last Resort.” The album’s status as an all-timer is secure.
After a short break, the band returned to play, as Henley put it, “everything we know.” It was in the second set that the pleasant surprises and light stumbles came into play. The biggest moment of the night came when Henley introduced guest Deacon Frey to the stage.