To think, there was a time when, if asked who'd host the most anticipated concerts at the turn of the millennium, the Eagles wouldn't even be on the list. Not because people didn't love them - quite the opposite, in fact - but their 1980 tour ended with members of the band literally threatening to beat each other up after leaving the stage.
So the reunion of Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Don Felder and Timothy B. Schmit was a surprise to many - including the band themselves. (Their 1994 album, a mix of live tracks and new studio recordings, was appropriately titled Hell Freezes Over.) Even more striking - and enough to make Satan keep shivering - was that the reunion stuck: the group kept touring through the '90s, and reunited with previous members when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
While the Eagles' reunion tour produced eye-popping box office grosses, there were some skeptics when the group announced they'd take the stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as 1999 turned into 2000. Tickets were pricey - up to $1500 - and a few similar star-studded events had flopped. (One New York ticket, Celebration 2000, was slated to feature Sting, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Tom Jones and others; every ticket holder got refunded after the show failed to sell through.)
Listening back to the show now - it was included in the Selected Works 1972-1999 box set and is newly available on vinyl for the first time as The Millennium Concert - it's clear that none of that ticket drama, real or imagined, mattered to the band. They were there to play, and play they did. Hits like "Hotel California" (cast once again as an electric tune after its unplugged rework on Hell Freezes Over), "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "The Best of My Love" mixed with deep cuts ("Those Shoes" from The Long Run, "Victim of Love" from Hotel California) plus solo cuts from Henley ("Dirty Laundry," "All She Wants to Do is Dance") and Walsh's pre-Eagles outfit The James Gang ("Funk #49"). The group even broke out both sides of their 1978 single "Please Come Home for Christmas" and "Funky New Year" (with some newly-rewritten lyrics addressing the band's break-up and makeup.)
The Eagles kept flying into that new millennium, albeit without Felder, leading to some acrimonious legal activity. But their transmission from one epoch to another is an excellent listen - one that deserves a place on your shelf.
The Millennium Concert is now available on vinyl from Rhino Records. Classic Rockers readers can get 20% off at Rhino.com with the promo code "EAGLES20."