Eagles and Fleetwood Mac Remind Us Why They’re the Best at The Classic West
A bit of nostalgia came to Los Angeles this past weekend in the form of six bands that dominated the 1970s. Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Earth, Wind and Fire and Journey took over Dodger Stadium for The Classic West, a two-day mega concert. While all six groups made an impression, headliners the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac stole the show.
Kicking things off Saturday, The Doobie Brothers performed hard rocking hits such as “Listen to the Music,” “Jesus Is Just Alright,” “China Grove” and “Black Water.” Lead vocalist Tom Johnston, who was joined by fellow original member Patrick Simmons (guitar), as well as bassist John Cowan, gave a strong performance, although some fans were disappointed that Michael McDonald, who took over for Johnston during the second half of the 70s, was a no-show.
Most of the bands that took the stage at Classic West were comprised of a mix of original members and later and recent additions. This was the case for Steely Dan, whose co-founder/guitarist Walter Becker was unable to perform Saturday due to illness. Instead, co-founder/vocalist Donald Fagen was reunited with guitarist Larry Carlton, who played with the band during the 70s, for songs such as “Josie,” “Aja” and “King Charlemagne.”
Saturday night came to a close with an unforgettable performance by the Eagles, a band native to L.A. that experienced tragedy early last year when original frontman Glenn Frey passed away at the age of 67. At the time, drummer and vocalist Don Henley said he didn’t see the band continuing on. However, at the Eagles’ first show since the tragedy, Deacon Frey — Glenn’s 24-year-old son who bears an uncanny resemblance to his father in his heyday — bravely stepped in, putting on a moving performance that touched fans and the likes of Stevie Nicks, who dedicated an extra-emotional rendition of “Landslide” to the young man the following evening. Also joining the Eagles was country superstar Vince Gill, who split vocals with Frey on hits such as “Take it Easy” and “Lyin’ Eyes.”
Earth, Wind & Fire kicked off Sunday, and the guys didn’t let the intense heat stop them from putting on a groovy, high-energy performance, as they breezed through hits such as “Shining Star,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “Let’s Groove.” Original lead vocalist Philip Bailey was front and center, still going strong after 46 years, along with original bassist Verdine White, whom Bailey compared to a fine red wine. Joining them were a host of other musicians of different ages, including Bailey’s own son, Philip Bailey Jr.
Next up, Journey took the stage with their heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll, kicking it off with “Separate Ways.” As original lead singer and songwriter Steve Perry parted ways with the group in the nineties, for the past ten years Arnel Pineda, has been the voice of the band. Pineda, a native of the Philippines, joined the band in 2007 after guitarist Neal Schon discovered him on YouTube. Perry is probably never far from Schon’s mind, as he dedicated “Lights,” an ode to San Francisco that the men wrote together in their early days, to his former bandmate. Pineda, whose powerful, soulful voices sounds so much like Perry’s, also belted out “Open Arms,” “Faithfully” and “Don’t Stop Believing.” Schon, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, and drummer Steve Smith also strutted their stuff with their own solos.
Capping off the festival was Fleetwood Mac, who started off their set with their hit “The Chain,” with Stevie Nicks front and center wearing a signature long black dress. In addition to the aforementioned “Landslide,” she struck a chord with “Rhiannon,” “Sara” and “Bleed to Love Her.” Nicks shared the spotlight with Christine McVice, who sung some of the bands catchier songs, such as “Everything” and “You Make Loving Fun.” In the middle of all this, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham belted out a few tunes himself, including “Tusk” and “Second Hand News,” reminding the crowd that even though he and his bandmates have been through a lot together, they wouldn’t be out there playing together if there wasn’t love between them. The love was especially evident between Buckingham and his ex Nicks when they two embraced during “Sara.” Although Nicks started to lose energy during the normally upbeat “Gypsy,” she came back with the haunting “Gold Dust Woman.” The set ended on a high, closing out with “Go Your Own Way” and an encore consisting of “Don’t Stop” and fireworks.
Those in New York City will have the opportunity to see all six bands when The Classic East comes to Citifield July 29-30.
The Classic West took place July 15-16 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.