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     Volume 4 Issue 28 | January 7, 2005 |

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The Eagles Had Landed

Farjad Ahmed

As a Bangladeshi generally when you think of Singapore two things come to mind: hospitals and more hospitals. It is safe to assume one does not (at least I don't) associate a strictly regimented, near perfect, almost Orwellian, society to host a rock concert by one of the most successful bands of the 70's. I am talking about the legendary rock band The Eagles and their concert that I had the good fortune of attending on Oct 18, 2004 in Singapore.

When we arrived two days before the concert, the city bore no semblance that a major rock event was about to shake the grounds of this tiny island. No posters, no newspaper ads, no billboards. Some of our Singaporean friends were equally oblivious of the event and were even perplexed by our visit there during Ramadan. The music stores (HMV, Borders etc.) were not helping to instill our confidence either as they were busy promoting the latest rap release. The Eagles were conspicuously absent and we were getting worried. Only when we got the tickets (and a few phone calls) were we sure that we were at the right place at the right time.

Out of 12,000+ fans who congregated at the Singapore indoor stadium to witness the one-night-only spectacle, there was a strong six-member Bangladeshi contingent. At 20:20 hrs, the lights began to go dim (no, my head was not heavy) and I could feel my adrenalin rush out of sheer anticipation, finally the lights were out and it was pitch dark. Then the drums came rolling down and we heard Don Henley's' distinctive husky voice " I used to hurry a lot, I used to worry a lot….." it was The Long Run kicking off an evening to remember.

No blinding laser effects, no pyrotechnics, no bodacious choreographers, no sound effects. The concert was LIVE in every sense of the word. Loud guitars, thumping drums, blowing horns; just raw talent emanating a sound that transcended generations. The demographics of the audience, covered the entire spectrum from pre-teens to post-new age, from long hair to gray hair, they were all there - almost like a family outing. The audience, however, were not your typical energy exuding, proactive, screaming, rock concert audience which was unfortunate. In line with Singaporean discipline, the audience' participation was almost mooted. They were enjoying, no doubt but the spontaneity was absent. The atmosphere was great but not thrilling. One would be forgiven to think that the fans were clapping in tandem as well!

The three-hour extravaganza featured a whopping 22 tracks and a full back-up band including a 4-man brass/horn section who, with their jet-black outfit (black berets, black shades), could well get inducted as members of Nation Of Islam had they not been white male Caucasians. The multi-instrumentalist Al Garth of Loggins and Messina fame who led the horn section- played the violin and the trumpet. Eagles, for their part, played a string of their hits including, "Wasted Time", "New Kid In Town", "One Of These Nights", "Take It Easy", "Life In The Fast Lane", "I Can't Tell You Why", "Love Will Keep Us Alive". In addition, the individual band members also sang their solo hits including "Boys of Summer", "Dirty Laundry", "Heart Of The Matter" by Don Henley, Glenn Frey chipped in with "You belong to the city" et al. The climax was, of course, Hotel California and this song deserves a separate paragraph.

After a break of 5-10 minutes, a single beam of light appeared on Al Garth that was reminiscent of Star Trek's telepod. A melodious tune came out of his shiny golden trumpet and it took the audience a few seconds to recognise that he was playing the notes from Hotel California - the entire stadium just went ballistic. Don Henley began, "On a dark desert highway……..". Then at the end of the song when Don Henley sang the chilling finale, "…..you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave" Joe Walsh took over and played out one of the most memorable guitar solos in the history of Rock 'n' Roll. That moment I knew I got my money's worth.

The band itself looked like a motley crew: Timothy B. Schmit seemed stuck in a 70's time capsule while the rest of the members had all shed their post Woodstock, unkempt, hippie image and looked all grown up, mature, clean cut, clean shaven, neatly attired. If they donned black suits, they could easily pass as Wall Street investment bankers. Don Henley and Glenn Frey were at the forefront. While the former appeared to be reserved and serious, Glenn Frey provided some comic relief when he dedicated the song "Already Gone" (prematurely) to George Bush, referred to "Take it to the limit" as the credit card song, and claimed that "Lying Eyes" was inspired by his first wife the plaintiff. Joe Walsh was the showman. His striking blonde hair was in sharp contrast to his outfit - psychedelic sweatshirt, sweat pants, and sneakers. He was zestfully romping all over the stage and entertained the audience with some great guitar solos. Though well in their 50's, time did not seem to have dented the bands' energy even by a molecule.

The last song of the evening was, fittingly, the lovely ballad "Desperado". As the final curtains fell, I realised I had witnessed rock history. The Eagles may be old, but they are not a relic. And if this concert was any indication, the band should be rocking for some time to come. This tour was dubiously called "Farewell I", thus, I presume there will be Farewells II, III, and more as I suspect The Eagles will be flying again.



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