New Zealand Concert

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Made in the E.U. and drawn from a show in Christchurch on November 26, 1995, the Eagles' two-CD set New Zealand Concert is the audio complement to a video of a show representing the band's first appearance ever in that country, as part of the Hell Freezes Over reunion tour. Typical of an Eagles concert, the songs are for the most part carefully played to re-create the sound of the group's records. Also typically, in their song selections, the Eagles are not so much interested in providing a thorough "greatest-hits" set as they are in molding their repertoire to what they consider the best. Their early days get short shrift, with only four songs drawn from their first three albums, and two of those are tacked on at the end as encores. Two songs come from their fourth album, One of These Nights, two from their sixth, The Long Run, and two from the live reunion album Hell Freezes Over. Half a dozen are drawn from their fifth and most popular regular album, Hotel California, with five of those, starting with the title song, played right at the top of the show. In addition to these 16 Eagles songs, there are no less than ten songs from the individual members' solo albums, including five from Joe Walsh (one of which, "Funk 49," actually dates from his first band, the James Gang). Actually, the Walsh songs make for a welcome change of pace. In addition to being an excellent lead guitarist, Walsh is, of course, the joker in the deck, turning in self-deprecating statements dating back to "Life's Been Good" and up to the title track from 1991's Ordinary Average Guy. His humor makes a good contrast to the seriousness of Don Henley, who rarely sounds like he's doing more than phoning this performance in. Glenn Frey, meanwhile, comes off as a polite frontman, the only bandmember to address the audience at any length, introducing songs and thanking the patrons profusely. Unlike the sonically pristine Eagles Live and Hell Freezes Over, New Zealand Concert has a sound that is simultaneously tinny (in the upper registers) and boxy (in the lower registers). It's hard to believe the band OKed this disc, even if it is technically a legal release.