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Eagles showed how to do big business on the Strip

The influence of the Rat Pack on Las Vegas is obvious. With the Eagles, you have to look a little harder.

Who knows if the group will be back in some name or form after the death of Glenn Frey last week? Their manager Irving Azoff said it “doesn’t look like” they would. But just as the Grateful Dead mostly regrouped as Dead & Company soon after its big “farewell,” the remaining Eagles could well follow the example set by Frey in 2005, when he toured as the Glenn Frey Band featuring Joe Walsh.

People have been talking about the group’s musical legacy since Frey’s death. But the Eagles always seemed to be equally about taking care of business, so I made a short list of ways their Las Vegas work influenced some larger trends.

1. The “underplay”: This is a concert industry term for an act that usually plays big venues such as sports arenas downsizing for a smaller, exclusive date in a theater or club. The Eagles played to an invited audience for the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel in 1995, setting up the Rolling Stones, Billy Joel and their own return as a sidestep from an arena tour in 2002.

The strategy is still alive with the likes of Bruno Mars playing the Cosmopolitan’s Chelsea, or if you figure Garth Brooks and George Strait could play stadiums instead of the new T-Mobile Arena.

2. The almost-residency: The Eagles played the MGM Grand Garden at least 10 times between 2003 and last May. Not quite enough to brand them with the buzzword “residency,” but proof that you don’t need to worry about burning out locals when you live in the tourist fast lane. The annual shows from the Eagles and Jimmy Buffett surely pointed the way to Billy Joel’s monthly dates at Madison Square Garden.

“We’ve played six, maybe eight one-offs during the course of the year just so we don’t get too rusty,” Joe Walsh explained in 2012 of doing an MGM date outside of a tour. Or get too in need of walkin’-around money. Joel grossed $25 million for his first dozen shows at the Garden, so I had figured he or the Eagles would try the same thing at the T-Mobile Arena.

3. The “Get Over It” thing: Last week’s column used the Guess Who as an example of the many rock bands who detest one another so much they can’t suck it up and tour together instead of hitting the road separately and fragmenting their audience.

Yes, Frey, Don Henley and Joe Walsh all did their solo jaunts. But their comically titled “Farewell Tour” lasted more than 16 years. Not bad for a band where Don Felder once claimed that Frey promised to “kick (his) ass” once they got offstage. And even if high-fives did not abound, audiences did not see the comically palpable hatred of the Police reunion in 2008. Pay attention, Led Zeppelin.

Furthermore, the Eagles did not split hairs about “Dirty Laundry” actually being a Henley solo hit or “Rocky Mountain Way” belonging to Walsh. Which brings us to …

4. Give the people what they pay for: And paid well for at Eagles shows. The past few years at the MGM even saw airline-like “flexible” pricing, where ticket prices went up or down each day, based on how they were selling. The late David Bowie was always pushing forward, declaring himself “not a nostalgic person.” But if you paid more than $200 for the best Eagles seats, you got all the hits, in two sets, sometimes running up 30 songs. …

The Scintas are back downtown, at least for a limited run in the Plaza’s retro-cool showroom, which has mostly collected dust since Louie Anderson’s residency there.

The Scintas played down Fremont Street at the D Las Vegas but had remarketed the act to solo-bill frontman Frankie Scinta by the time it closed last May. The traditional billing returns when the siblings kick it old-school for a run Feb. 19-20, 26-27, March 11-12, 25-26, April 8-9, 15-16 and May 6-7, 13-14. …

Speaking of the D, they do call it Valentine’s Day, though most restaurants spend their lovely day prepping for an evening invasion. But if you’re already unconventional enough to attend “Marriage Can Be Murder” on V-day, you can go to a special brunch show at noon, complete with mimosas or, wait for it, bloody marys. …

It’s a little confusing. Terry Fator is going on “The Bachelor,” but he just got married so he’s not the bachelor. The Mirage’s ventriloquist headliner makes an appearance on the “group date” part of Monday’s episode on ABC. …

We’ll end on a question, and maybe come back with some answers in another column. But here goes: With (soon-to-be) three arenas on the Strip, two more slightly off the Strip, two big concert halls and (soon-to-be) three live music clubs, how can Las Vegas not get every single tour that’s out on the road?

That’s what fans of Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Sting and Peter Gabriel are asking. None of them, so far, includes Las Vegas in their tour plans (Sting and Gabriel are touring together next summer, and at least head to Lake Tahoe in July).

Could it be some people still just don’t like us? Possibly, but all four acts have played here before.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

 

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