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Rick Robinson: What I Saw at The Eagles Concert in 1975, and the One Last Night

In 1975, my pal Ken and I bought four tickets to see the Eagles in Cincinnati. Ken took his girlfriend, whom he eventually married. I took a girl who’d rather not have her friends know we ever went out on a date. I was not a huge fan, but the young ladies loved the Eagles. As it turned out, that evening was the day Joe Walsh joined the band. Off stage for the entire concert, he came out during the encores and the band basically put on a second concert featuring Walsh’s tunes from the James Gang.

Fast forward four decades, and I took a prettier girl (my wife Linda) to see the Eagles at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. As I am still ambivalent about the Eagles, I had plenty of time to observe the changes between two concerts separated by 43 years.

The main difference between them was the separation in ages. There were people at the concert whose parents weren’t alive in 1975. Trust me, I did the math.  

Signage on the jumbotrons gave safety warnings to concert-goers. Although people old enough to remember the 1975 Eagles didn’t really need signs. Replacement joints and the fear of falling down stairs was plenty motivation to “please use a handrail when walking down the aisles.” Concert organizers could have handed out Alert1 devices at the gate.

But age was not the only difference I noticed between the two shows. Other changes included:

WEED – In 1975, Riverfront Coliseum looked like a foggy day on the wharf in London. The pot smoke was so thick, even people not smoking had a righteous contact buzz going. In 2018, there was nary a whiff of marijuana and it’s legal to smoke in DC.  

A sign on the Jumbotron following the warmup act (James Taylor) warned it was unsafe to stand on our seats. In 1975, someone should have warned Ken and me it was unsafe to try and stand at all.

Pot has apparently been replaced by custom made cocktails that cost more than a dime bag did back in the 70s. And there were probably more sales of bottled water than beer and overpriced cocktails.

CELL PHONES – Everyone today is obsessed by the cameras on their cell phones. What I learned is that age determines the direction in which the camera is pointed during a concert. People with grey hair pointed them at the stage, taking photos and videos of the Eagles to post on Facebook. Millennials turned the lens around to snap pictures of themselves to post on Instagram.

We sat next two young ladies who were a petri dish of laboratory information on Millennial concert goers. The one sitting directly to my right mixed texting and posting on Instagram with intermittent “safely seated” dance moves.  

Her text: “OMG, that’s Clint Black.” Arm waves. Wiggle. Wiggle.

Reply from friend sitting one section away: “You mean Vince Gill?”

Her text: sticks out tongue and snaps selfie, “Whatever!” Arm waves. Wiggle. Wiggle.

This girl’s friend spoke in glowing terms each time a particular Eagles tune was her favorite (and she had a lot of favorites). She proved her loyalty to her faves by singing the last word of each line loudly in her friend’s ear at point-blank range.

All alone at the end of the “EVENING,”

And the bright lights have faded “TO BLUE.”

I was thinking 'bout a woman who might “HAVE LOVED ME,”

I never “KNEW.”

Pause.

“And then this one time at band camp.”

The flashlight on cell phones were also used, calling out the Eagles for two encores. Understandable. As no one brought weed, all the old stoners forgot to bring lighters, too.

SPEAKERS and VOLUME – Stacks and stacks of on-stage speakers have been replaced by smaller strategically placed towers offering better, higher-quality sound. However, the volume was low.

Even my wife – who constantly makes me turn down the radio in the car – complained about the volume.

Then again, in 1975, when Ken and I left the Eagles concert we couldn’t hear for three days. The number of times I yelled, “What did he say?” at Linda is a good indication I should have paid closer attention to this in 1975.

JOE WALSH –  Concert-goers were not the only drug-free folks in Nationals Park. At age 70, a sober Joe Walsh absolutely tore it up. He ripped through “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Seems to Me” like it was still 1975. As I seem to remember watching his performance closer last night, maybe there is something to the pot-free concert experience. It’s sure working for Joe.

Rick Robinson is a NKY author lost in DC.  His latest novel, The Promise of Cedar Key, can be found on Amazon and at Joseph Beth in Crestview Hills.

Photo via Wiki Commons