The Greatest Concert Ever

Everyone’s going to have an opinion on this one. What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever attended? Which concert set the standard as the one to beat for all future experiences?

Going into last Saturday night, I’d have to say the Paul McCartney show I caught at Safeco Field a couple of years ago was the high-water mark. It’s still up there. The 70+-year-old McCartney put his heart and soul into his performance, playing songs that covered most of my lifetime. It sounded like he was having fun, that he “still had it” and then, bringing out the two surviving members of Nirvana for an encore of Helter Skelter was the cherry on top.

Last weekend, my wife and I went to catch The Classic, as it was billed. An evening with the Doobie Brothers and The Eagles. I have to admit, during the weeks prior to the concert, my enthusiasm was fading. I had always wanted to see the Eagles, but now that Glenn Frey was gone, were they still The Eagles? Or, like so many touring bands out there, a few original members augmented by a bunch of studio musicians.

It didn’t help that I started seeing Groupon offers of tickets for $35 for this event, after I had ponied up $125 plus screw-you fees for each of our seats. The weather was starting to get fall-like, so that meant we could be outside, being cold, a million miles away from the stage and we could spend an evening regretting we had committed to this night.  Besides, we had caught the Doobies a couple of summers back and while they were pleasantly surprising, energetic and fun, we probably were going to see just the same old thing.

Add to that, we had caught a Don Henley concert and a Joe Walsh concert at the winery in recent years. I like to say we saw the Eagles, just in pieces. All to say, my expectations were pretty low.

And then, the show began.

It ended up being one of the greatest concerts ever. From any standpoint. Now, to explain why they may have knocked Sir Paul out of my number one spot:

The Doobie Brothers–They came to play, they did the hits, had some fun with some deep album cuts and rocked us all down Memory Lane. They showed up on the music scene during my high school years and I played their music on the radio in the earlier years of my broadcast career.  Tom Johnston, founding member and one of the two main voices of the group, delivered big-time. The Doobie Brothers were pretty much with me throughout the 70s and 80s, and they were back tonight in great form. Yes, no Michael McDonald, but he was later-Doobies. They had other members cover his hit songs and it was just fine. The sing-along version of “Listen to the Music” at the end was a great way to wrap it up.  GRADE: A

The Eagles–There are so many ways this could have been disappointing. Like I said, with Glenn Frey gone, would some of the songs just be cover versions of his hits? That was the big question and it was answered right away, when Joe Walsh introduced Deacon Frey, Glenn’s son, to sing of those songs. You could see Glenn in his face and could hear him in his voice.

But the Eagles doubled-down and brought along country legend Vince Gill to tackle some of those Frey vocals and he nailed it. So now, I’m watching the friggin’ Eagles, but it’s like the Eagles on steroids. They played around with some of the songs, slightly tweaking the melody, keeping it fresh, not just regurgitating. But I noticed, after introducing the young Frey, Joe Walsh kind of laid back. He offered harmonizing vocals, but mostly hung out on the right side of the stage, and just blended in. Being a solo act, I was impressed he could be a team player like that.

It was all part of the plan, because at one point, the band started playing “Life’s been good.” That’s Joe’s song, not the Eagles. But like he was helping round out the Eagles, they returned the favor. Then another Joe Walsh song. And another. It was a concert, within a concert, with psychedelic video and all kinds of fun thrown in. The crowd was loving it.

They went back to Eagles songs, wrapped it up, came out and did an encore, wrapped it up again and gave us one more encore. Wow. From the time the music started (and, on time, at 7pm–when was the last time you remember that happening) the groups took us all the way until 11pm. Most of four hours of great music, great memories and feeling like I had shared a very special experience with a bunch of other fans. GRADE: A++

Those are my reasons for putting this event in serious contention for the Greatest Concert Ever. I’ve got a few more years of reviews to get in, but this one has already secured a spot in my Final Three.

Tim Hunter

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