Monday, January 20, 2014

Maybe You CAN Go Home Again

I went to see the Eagles at the newly renovated “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, one of a half dozen shows they are doing to inaugurate the new era of this venerable venue.  It was built by Jack Kent Cooke to be home to the LA Lakers basketball team, who were later joined by the LA Kings hockey team.  But it became the preeminent concert venue in town despite being built with sports in mind rather than optimum sound, and it always freezing cold because of the ice skating rink under the floor.  It fell out of favor when the Staples Center opened downtown, though many music artists refused to play Staples after playing there once because the sound there is hardly the best (Bruce Springsteen heading that list), and it eventually was sold to a church.  Last year, The Madison Square Garden company, in a surprise move, bought the Forum and put $100 million dollars into making it into what may be the best large concert arena anywhere.  They put the music first, how novel.


So it was with memories of concerts past, dating back to the early 1970’s, that I headed south to Inglewood.  The place was filled with people like me (old enough to have those memories) all reminiscing about the shows they had seen there and where they sat for them.  My first one was Santana in 1971 (I think).  I went with a guy from work who had done their lights when he lived in San Francisco, and we sat, on purpose, in the upper reaches right under the spot lights.  After that there was Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Elton John and Billy Joel (together), and the Genesis concert where my lighting director friend explained to me that they would go on to make more money from their investment in the company that makes Vari-Lights—the computerized lights that move in all directions and change colors—than they would from their music.  And then, of course, there was my life at the Forum with Fleetwood Mac, beginning with the first show of theirs I saw where they were second on a three-act bill headlined by Dave Mason who would later join their band.   They headlined six shows of their own there four years later, backed for the song “Tusk” by the USC Marching Band. 


The Eagles are calling their show the History of the Eagles tour (like their documentary from last year), and they are recounting their musical history pretty much chronologically.  I would think they are only doing this show here in LA, because Bernie Leadon (who hasn't played with them since before hell froze over) plays the whole first half and the encores with them.  They started with an explanation of how they got together and started writing songs, casually sitting on amps to replicate a $6 an hour rehearsal room somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. They opened with Whatever Happened to Saturday Night, and it evolved from there all the way to an acoustic version of Desperado, which is my all-time favorite Eagles song. In between they played every Eagles song anyone would ever want to hear  in a room where the sound was—in a word--perfect.