The Eagles didn't just want to sing you some songs. They felt they had some explaining to do

Here they were for a fourth time in 40 years, the Eagles, the epitome of 70s Californian classic rock and enduring easy breeziness. A band which has now spent longer - and possibly earned more - in reunion mode than they did in their hairy, flared hit-making heyday.

But this was The History of the Eagles tour. They didn't just want to sing you some songs. They felt they had some explaining to do.

So the first of two 37,000 strong audiences got a scripted three hour guided tour of the Eagles' good ol' days. Which brought with it nearly 30 songs and all those enduring hits, and a few less so.

It was a curious experience. A stadium show as lecture, with anecdotes coming from both the musicians on stage and in video interludes played as the stage was reset.


It was an attempt to replicate, live, the 2013 film History of the Eagles, an authorised documentary which covered the band's original rise in exhaustive detail while performing reputation management on the band's songwriting partnership of Glenn Frey and Don Henley.

Just as the band once might have replicated live their pristine studio albums, here it seems, they were offering the concert rendition of the blu-ray.

It was Frey and Henley who wandered out on stage first with their acoustic guitars to start the show with Saturday Night, a song from 1973's Desperado album, the hit title track of which closed the night three hours - and one extended halftime break - later.

And so a gentle non-pace for the first hour was set with the duo joined one-by-one by early Eagle Bernie Leadon, bassist Timothy B. Schmit and Leadon's replacement Joe Walsh for an initially sit-down amble through those early tumbleweed years.

There were some well-worn recollections too. Frey saying "we did everything faster in 1975" was as revealing as it got about the group's pharmaceutical adventures. He also mentioned that he and Henley would scribble on legal pads in their songwriting sessions, a variety of stationery that has remained popular in the group's affairs.

But eventually the music took over - and the band finally connected to the vast audience - with the veterans enhanced by a small army of session musicians.

One, guitarist Steuart Smith had the job of note-perfect renditions of the solos of exiled Eagle Don Felder.

That included the lead guitar duel with Walsh on Hotel California during the encores, which was the night's predictable peak.

It was Walsh, armed with a goofy smile and his nifty guitar talk-box, who brought much needed humour and personality to proceedings.

His bracket of In the City, Life's Been Good, Funk #49 and later his signature James Gang song Rocky Mountain Way gave the pre-programmed jukebox a decent thump.

In a display of brazen energy he wandered from his side of the stage to the other one - and back again- easily outdoing the onstage mileage of anyone else.

No, spontaneous it wasn't and its rose-tinted history lesson came with a fair amount of self-regard.

But the songs offered plenty of reminders why so many have loved the Eagles for those 40-plus years - the stacked vocals, the grand hooks, the gently groovy tempos which turned the hippie country rockers into pop chart rivals to the likes of the Bee Gees in the disco era.

Sharing the majority of the lead vocals throughout the night, Henley and Frey both
had some extra weathered character in their voices. While collectively, those harmonies were as rich as the men singing them.

That was something to hear, and join in on, especially on the anthemic likes of Take It to the Limit.

But this concert, structured as it was, didn't really do that. It talked too much. And as another one of those good 'ol days came up for discussion , it just proved nostalgia ain't what it used to be.