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Eagles, playing MGM, staying busy with solo endeavors, band projects

A couple of more shows and they could call this a Vegas residency.

The Eagles return Saturday to the MGM Grand Garden arena, where they have played at least six times since 2003, and where they plan to play again Dec. 30.

“We’re having a quiet year,” Joe Walsh said in September. “Everybody has got some individual projects going on. But we’ve played six, maybe eight one-offs during the course of the year just so we don’t get too rusty.”

Walsh – who turns 65 on Tuesday – also kept his guitar in tune with solo dates, including a September show at the Palms to support his album “Analog Man.”

Glenn Frey released a covers album called “After Hours” and Twitter-taunted Walsh, “Hey your new CD is great – but not as good as mine.”

During all this, “we’re working on a documentary,” Walsh said.

“We’ve archived everything since day one and we’re going to do the history of the band, part one, from day one.

“It’s pretty powerful,” he added. “I’ve seen a lot of it.”

Saturday’s show sounds like it will be much like the band’s two MGM dates last year – a generous serving of nearly three hours and 30 favorites, reaching beyond the Eagles to solo careers and even Walsh’s early days in The James Gang.

“The plan is next year we’re going to celebrate 40 years as a band,” Walsh explained, even though this year marks 40 since “Take It Easy” hit the AM airwaves in 1972.

“With that kind of theme, we’re gonna retool and work up a whole new show with production, lights, set list, everything,” he said, adding the details were “not in place yet, but that’s the plan.”

As cringe-worthy as it might be to recall the runaway egos and drug binges, it may be easier for the Eagles to look backward than forward. Solo activity seems to fill the band members’ creative void in lieu of a new Eagles album. The last one, “Long Road Out of Eden,” came in 2007 – and with some difficulty, Walsh recalled.

“It was just a complex album, it took a long time. We hadn’t made one since (the group reformed in 1993). Whatever it was, we were rusty at it and we didn’t get anywhere for the first year.”

“Long Road” ended up as an expansive two-disc set; the first echoing the band’s country-rock era of the early ’70s and the second more in line with “The Long Run” and the ’80s solo albums of Frey and Don Henley.

“As we started getting tracks we thought were Eagles songs and finishing them, a whole new set of songs came out in the process,” Walsh explained.

“We butted heads for a while, and then towards the end of the project, everybody showed up with, ‘Oh hey, I got a song here.’ We had to do all those, and so it turned into a double album. In retrospect, it probably should have been a single album with the best of the double album (material).”

Since Eagles concerts draw no real distinction between a “band sound” and the solo careers of its members, could that have been part of the problem in the studio?

Walsh agreed “finding an identity” is tougher than it sounds for a 40-year-old band.

“We just ended up making an album, and whatever that was was what it was. If it was Nashville or country-rock, that was OK. We kind of had to see where we were and where each individual was and pay attention to that, rather than focus on, ‘OK, now what an exactly should an Eagles album be?’
“I hope we do another album because now we know. And I think we can make one that’ll take less time and (be) less complex.”

But if there is any constant to the Eagles, it’s “complex.”

“It always has been,” Walsh said.

These days, the guitarist claims to “have the best of both worlds,” balancing the Eagles with the solo dates in smaller venues that allow him to jam on long, improvised middle passages to his songs.

“I miss that in the Eagles. We don’t get a chance to do that,” he said. “Everything’s on a big scale and it’s more of a production.

“We all have assignments in the Eagles. You have to play your part and sing your part, and you have to be there with that part. If all of us show up with our parts, it turns into something bigger than any of us individually – and that is the Eagles.

“That’s one way to do it, and we’re probably the best at that.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@
reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

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