Friday, June 11, 2010

'Captains of the old order, clingin' to the reins..'

We went to the new Meadowlands Stadium last night to see what's already one of the big tours of the summer, a triple-bill headlined by The Eagles, with the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban. I'd never seen any of the acts live so was looking forward to it, as well as checking out the new stadium (almost antiseptically comfortable, as it happens).

I've always had a big soft spot for the Dixie Chicks, liked them a lot musically anyway and then supported and respected them tremendously for how they dealt with the vicious reaction to their opinions about the war in Iraq.

They played a nice set at the Meadowlands, with an unexpected highlight being a version of Train's 'Hey Soul Sister'. As Natalie Maines said, "sometimes a song just comes along that you wish you'd written" (this clip is from the previous show, in Toronto). I've also been listening to Emily and Martie's album as the Court Yard Hounds at home and its really been growing on me.

To be honest, for the first half hour, The Eagles sounded like a really good Eagles tribute band - every note, every harmony in those instinctively familiar west coast songs was perfect, but there wasn't much soul. But when the set turned to some of the great songs by the band's individual members, the show really started.

I've always liked Don Henley's 'Boys of Summer' 'End of the Innocence' or 'Dirty Laundry' - accompanied last night by a great backdrop montage - better than pretty much any Eagles song, and then there's Joe Walsh, just a genius guitar player. How can you not rock out to 'In the City' 'Rocky Mountain Way' or 'Life's Been Good'? (A respectful nod also here to veteran sideman Steuart Smith who shared the guitar duties).

(*update - a couple of days after the show, I literally bumped into Joe in the lobby of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. He was very gracious, even when I told him that the first time I'd seen him play was twenty-eight years ago.)

But without doubt the show-stealer of the night, it has to be said, was Keith Urban. Just as the guy came on stage, the heavens opened and he played his opening couple of songs to the few hundred people who braved the downpour. But then the sun came out and he proceeded to rock the house. Very tight, accomplished band, who gave their frontman every opportunity to interact, and the crowd responded.

My wife had seen him play last year at Madison Square Garden and knew he put on a great show. But as he wandered around the stadium floor, shredding and high-fiving with fans, you could tell he was enjoying it as much as his audience.

Even if you don't consider yourself a "country" fan, he really puts on a show. I'd definitely go back to see him. I haven't been able to find any decent clips of last night's show, so here's a couple of recent acoustic versions that help show what a good all-round entertainer the guy is.

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