Concert Review – The West Coast Eagles

The West Coast Eagles/Gordon Giltrap
Friday, April 19th

Words by Ben Macnair

Photography by Dave Jones

Add together one of the best-known songbooks of the past fifty years, a near-capacity audience, and a support slot from one of the country’s finest acoustic guitarists, and you have all of the ingredients for a remarkably memorable concert.

The opening concert of Lichfield Arts Easter festival was an evening of some of the most excellent quality playing, with Gordon Giltrap, one of the more ground-breaking guitarists and composers of recent times leading from the front. Deftly played instrumentals such as Roots and Maggie Goes West showed the influence of folk and Celtic music, while on Camber Sands was a showcase for what can be done with just an acoustic guitar and a delay pedal. His best-known work, Heartsong, which served as the theme tune to the BBC’s Holiday programme for years was well-played and set closer Lucifer’s Cage showed the impact that Pete Townshend’s’ playing had on Giltrap’s nascent early style.

The West Coast Eagles offered something completely different. Tackling the work of any band is always tricky, but when a group has sold millions of albums, their best-known work Hotel California is still one of the best-selling albums of all time, and they have sterling musicianship, as well as some of the best-known harmony singing in rock, the West Coast Eagles had a lot to live up to.

The five-piece played songs by the Eagles but also hits songs from the solo careers of members Don Henley and Joe Walsh. They started proceedings with an a capella reading of Seven Bridges Road, which let into pub band favourite Take it Easy. The first half concentrated on the groups’ country beginning, with such well-known songs as Lyin’ Eyes, Tequilla Sunrise, Peaceful Easy Feeling, and Take It To The Limit all featuring, while the more complex arrangement of Don Henley’s Boys Of Summer showed the serious musical pedigree that the West Coast Eagles have.

The second half of the concert featured a broader range of tones and songs, with the highly experimental Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh receiving an energetic reading from the ensemble. Life in the Fast Lane, and Get Over It showed that the Eagles were also able to rock with the best rock songs, while Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way allowed for some excellent slide guitar, as did the concert closer Heartache Tonight.

As is the case, the band saved the Eagles best-known songs for the encore, with Hotel California and Desperado receiving the loudest ovations. The West Coast Eagles did the work of the Eagles justice, and the fact that they can sell out venues like the Guildhall is a testament to the writing and the playing skills of the Eagles, and how their work is still relevant to today.

 

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