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Friday, June 25, 2010

Show Review + Setlist + Photos: The Eagles and Dixie Chicks Play Big League Country-Rock at Busch Stadium, Thursday, June 24

Posted By on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 10:34 AM

click to enlarge The scene last night at Busch Stadium before the Eagles/Dixie Chicks show - KATIE MOULTON
  • Katie Moulton
  • The scene last night at Busch Stadium before the Eagles/Dixie Chicks show

The Eagles played it straight last night at Busch Stadium and managed to please everyone: the younger set relatively new to their catalog of country-rock classics as well as fans who have waited more than 35 years for this show. More than a few times, the stands echoed with the phrase, "Once in a lifetime."

Both the Eagles and the Dixie Chicks have a history of toeing the line between goes-down-easy mass appeal and piss-off-your-demo politics, and the bird-named bill made even more sense after seeing the bands back-to-back.

click to enlarge Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks - KATIE MOULTON
  • Katie Moulton
  • Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks, too, has melded country, bluegrass, rock and pop for years -- they covered both Bob Dylan and Train last night -- and, if the band was ever outside the snug embrace of mainstream approval, well, it's back now. As the sun laser-cut down the first base line, the Chicks kicked into 1998's "Wide Open Spaces" to a mostly-full stadium. Lead singer Natalie Maines, sporting a close-cropped "pixie chick" haircut, sounded strong as ever throughout the set, her unique voice alternatively ringing out, leaping and breaking in just the right places. All the elements were in place during a hit-laden set spanning its career: Emily Robison's sweet banjo, Martie Maguire's nimble fiddle, Maines' spunky snarl. The biggest hoots went up for won't-back-down anthem "Not Ready to Make Nice" and "Sin Wagon" - which includes the once-controversial lyric "mattress dancing" - proving that any past perceived sins are indeed forgiven.

Appropriately enough for the venue home to a Cardinals lineup, the Eagles' set was a long string of hits. With the four members - Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh - standing at the front of the stage, the show started with the signature a cappella harmonies of "Seven Bridges Road," which was enough to raise neck hairs on a St. Louis summer night. The Eagles spurred directly into country testifier "How Long" off 2007's Long Road Out of Eden; meanwhile the beer vendors whispered warnings of "last call." It was 8:54 p.m. - for thirsty upper-deck dwellers, it was time to take it to the limit.

The mostly middle-aged crowd around me perched comfortably in the hard-backs for the show's duration, but their seat-dancing, hand-waving and singing along were emphatic. When a Spanish trumpet sounded before the fourth song, audience members cried, "They wouldn't play it this early, would they?!" Sure enough - curveball! - Henley behind the drums boom-boomed into "Hotel California."

click to enlarge "Welcome to the..." well, you know. - KATIE MOULTON
  • Katie Moulton
  • "Welcome to the..." well, you know.

Each of the members took turns on lead vocals and in taking command othe stage, as the set paid homage to the members' solo careers, as when Schmit laid down a Bee Gees-style cushion of falsetto on "I Can't Tell You Why." (They did not play Frey's "The Heat Is On," but the H was definitely O.) The solo hits might even have gotten the most audible thrill from the audience - especially on Henley's '80s-era staple "Boys of Summer" and Walsh's comic "Life's Been Good," during which he updated the lyric to "they send me emails, tell me I'm great."

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