Friday, June 25, 2010
When the concert was announced several months ago, I thought the tickets were pricy (the "cheap seats" were $50), but they announced a half-price promotion last month and I quickly bought a pair. The Eagles' music was a big chunk of the soundtrack for my teenage years, and I was excited to revisit that time period.
We've been to Busch Stadium so many times it wasn't a problem finding a place to park or navigating our way to the gate. On the street outside the stadium was an interesting lineup of radio station tents...I saw classic rock, country, and soft rock popups right in a row. They were all packing up when we got there, but it occurred to me that if they'd all been broadcasting live earlier it would have been quite a cacophony! The stadium chose not to open all of the gates, so the line to enter was quite long, but it moved quickly. We used the escalators to move up to the top level and found our seats in the last row of a section just past third base, in front of the wheelchair seating area.
The stage was set up in center field. Everything except for the infield (which was fenced off) and the warning track (which was the main walkway) was covered, and folding chairs were set up for the people sitting on the field. The field also contained three huge speaker towers, a tent for the sound people, and a couple of portable concession stands. All of the seats between the foul poles were roped off and empty, but the rest of the stadium was pretty full.
There was some confusion about when the concert started. The tickets said 6:00, but on the way home from work I heard they'd changed the time to 6:30. When we were waiting to enter the stadium I heard 7:00. An opening band was playing when we got there, but the Dixie Chicks actually started at 7:15.
I'm not very familiar with the Dixie Chicks, but I enjoyed their set. The lead singer, Natalie Maines, apologized for starting late, and said they'd do less talking and more singing. They did. Except for a brief stop to acknowledge Katie, a Make a Wish girl who was supposed to be there but had to be hospitalized, it was nonstop music. They played for about an hour, with one encore, then the roadies got busy setting up for the main act.
The Eagles started a little bit before 9:00. We were so far away that the people on stage looked like ants, but there was a huge monitor on either side of the stage that provided excellent close ups. What a show! Over the course of the evening there was only one song I wasn't familiar with. Everything else was classics that I could sing along to. And I did. I've often thought that if I could purge my brain of trivial information (like complete sets of song lyrics) I could be really smart. "Hotel California". "Lying Eyes". "Witchy Woman". All the different parts of the band's discography were represented. In addition to the Eagles hits, they let Don Henley and Joe Walsh showcase some of their own songs (in Joe's case also a couple of James Gang tunes, too).
We couldn't have had a nicer night to be outside. The full moon, a nice breeze, and the low humidity were wonderful. As we expected, the crowd was predominantly middle aged and pretty sedate, but there was a contingent of 20-somethings in our section that seemed to be having a great time dancing and being crazy. I suspect it was more than the show on the stage, and the large quantities of beer they had been drinking were also a factor.
In addition to the four members of the band, the stage included several other backing musicians and an awesome horn section. There wasn't a lot of improvising during this concert. For the most part, the songs were just like the recorded versions, and that was ok. The exceptions were a nice trumpet solo before the beginning of "Hotel California" and a horn riff in the middle of "Funk #49", a James Gang song.
After a three-song encore the band waved their goodbyes and left the stage. When the roadies came out, we knew the show was really over and started heading for the exit. The crowd riding down the escalators was in a great mood--they'd just seen a wonderful show.