The “History of the Eagles” tour brought an extra Eagle to Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena on Monday night and offered a thorough Eagles education to anyone whose knowledge had gaps.
The concert, which put founding member Bernie Leadon on stage alongside current members Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, took audience members on a guided tour of the band’s history, from decade to decade.
It started with just Frey and Henley and two guitars on a pared-down stage. They walked out to wild applause and began strumming “Saturday Night.” At song’s end, they were joined by Leadon – the original guitarist who left the band in 1975 and was replaced by Walsh – for a rendition of “Train Leaves Here this Morning.”
Henley and Leadon sat on amps, Frey on a wooden stool. During a break, Henley told the audience about life in the summer of 1971 for the then-forming band. Members would rehearse in a little shack in the parking lot of a liquor store in the San Fernando Valley. The owner was named Bud, and he charged them $6 an hour to use the building, Henley said.
“We used to sit, much like this, on amps because we didn’t have chairs,” he said.
Schmit joined the group during the next song, “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and Walsh came out for “Witchy Woman.”
The rest of the show, which added five musicians (including unofficial Eagle Steuart Smith) and several more instruments, was full-on Eagles harmonizing, with Henley jumping back and forth from the drums to the guitar and the members volleying lead vocal duties.
The set list included most of the group’s most famous songs, including “Tequila Sunrise,” “The Best of My Love,” “Already Gone” and “Take It to the Limit,” which the band performed to enthusiastic audience response before intermission.
The second set included more hits, and the crowd got on its feet for the first time during “Heartache Tonight.” The second half also offered “I Can’t Tell You Why” plus some of hometown boy Walsh’s solo hits, such as “Life’s Been Good.”
The show included plenty of joking from the stage, especially from Frey, who dedicated the song “Lyin’ Eyes” to “my ex-wife, Plaintiff.”
When talking about the Beach Boys, whom he said all members of the Eagles loved, he said, “The Beach Boys were pioneers. The Eagles – we were settlers.”
During band introductions, he said, “I’m from Detroit, Michigan, where ‘mother’ is only half a word.”
Frey wasn’t joking, however, when just before intermission he chastised the front row for its cellphone usage.
“To those in the front row: Please don’t text,” he said. “We’re up here trying to do the very best reading we can.”
The Eagles finished out the concert with “The Long Run,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Hotel California,” “Take It Easy,” “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Desperado.”