Concert Reviews

Ultimate Eagles Hot
Written by James Gaden     February 20, 2011    
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Ultimate Eagles - 02 Academy, Sheffield (UK), 22nd November 2010


I know we don’t usually include reviews for Tribute bands, but this one is a bit of an exception, as it features five of the U.K.’s top session musicians with hugely impressive C.V.’s, and a supremely talented American vocalist who is certainly no stranger to these pages! I’m not going into the whys and wherefores of tribute bands, this review is solely to concentrate on the music.

In previous reviews I have written I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of Danny Vaughn, and to hear him singing songs by one of the world’s biggest bands really is a guilty pleasure for me, but the rest of the band are no less worthy of the accolades. I’m never going to slag off The Eagles, as I have been lucky enough to see them on every U.K. tour they have done since 1996, for me they are the absolute consummate professionals when it comes to playing live. But what I like about seeing the Ultimate Eagles is that they perform the songs just as well, then add a little bit more Rock’n’Roll, a lot more fun, and (dare I say it) just a touch of raunch too. Four band members have previously performed with the popular Illegal Eagles, and this is the first full U.K. trek for the new line-up, aptly dubbed the ‘New Kid In Town Tour.’

There are no post 1979 songs in the set tonight, which means nothing from the recent ‘Long Road Out Of Eden’ CD or any of Don Henley’s solo material. This tour is all about the classics. ‘Heartache Tonight’ opens the show, with no less than four electric guitars cranking out the riff. It’s followed by ‘One Of These Nights’ and ‘New Kid In Town’, then second vocalist Michael Lawrence gets his first chance to shine with ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling.’ Michael has a nice rasp to his voice, and also has a great visual quality and stage presence. If there are any doubts about whether the UE’s can replicate those famous harmonies, then they are swiftly dispelled with the mainly a cappella ‘Seven Bridges Road.’ All six of the band sing, with bassist Chris Childs and drummer Ryan Aston in the lower register, and lead guitarist Christian Phillips taking the high parts, and the effect is absolutely stunning. Regular UE lead guitarist Jamie Moses (Queen, Mike & The Mechanics etc.) was unable to take part in this tour, his replacement is top session man and former band-mate of Christian Phillips, (and fellow Welshman) Christian Jones, who has slotted into his role extremely well, and even takes lead vocal duties on ‘Take It Easy’, topping it off with a fine solo.

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Though this show is all about the classics, the band aren’t afraid to delve into the Eagles back catalogue for a couple of the lesser known songs, the first of which is the Country flavoured ‘Midnight Flyer’ during which Christian P demonstrates his skills on the Banjo. ‘Those Shoes’ was a big hit in the U.S. but isn’t as popular on these shores as the other singles from the ‘Long Run’ album, and it’s delivered exactly like the original, with not one but two voice boxes. There is also room for a few choice cuts from the output of Joe Walsh which get huge cheers from the crowd, Danny and Michael share the vocal on ‘Life’s Been Good’ and Michael sings ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ with Christian P once again showing his style with the voice box. I’ve seen Christian perform quite a few times now, but this seems to be the most confident I have ever seen him, it may partly be down to the fact that he has his mate Christian Jones cranking out the solos alongside him (‘Joe Welsh’ to his band-mates), he seems to be interacting with the audience a bit more, and even finds time to cheekily berate Danny for not studying the set-list properly!

Michael Lawrence sings a great version of the always popular ‘Lyin’ Eyes’, then Christian P puts his guitar down for his sole lead vocal of the night, a stunning rendition of ‘Take It To The Limit,’ with Michael doing the soaring backing vocals from behind the keyboards at the back of the stage, and virtually unseen by the majority of the audience. He then takes centre stage again for a blistering run through of ‘Already Gone’ with some more fantastic fretwork from all three lead guitarists. The main set closes with Danny singing, as Michael refers to it ‘probably the Eagles most well-known song’, the awesome ‘Hotel California’, with the two Christians uniting for a note-perfect rendition of that solo.

Encore time sees Danny putting down his guitar for the first time and picking up a cowbell for a rousing run-through of Joe Walsh’s ‘Funk #49’, then it’s the excellent ‘Life In The Fast Lane.’ I always love to hear Danny sing, but his stirring rendition of the final song ‘Desperado’ is truly goose-bump inducing, and shows just what a superb talent he is, the fact that he is not a global superstar is an absolute travesty. All in all this is an excellent show, and more financially viable to most people than seeing the original artists. Another tour is planned for the Spring, don’t miss it!

Ant Heeks



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Comments (1)add comment

ady berry said:

We were lucky enough to see them on this first tour in Manchester. While the crowd was only small and the stage tiny they were superb - excellent musicians who did justice to some great songs.

Plus the band were extremely friendly - giving us beers from back stage after the bar shut. Couldn't have asked for a better end to the night!smilies/cheesy.gif
April 20, 2012
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