Ultimate Eagles (Sheffield 2019) Hot

Written by Central Electronic Brain     October 15, 2019    
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Ultimate Eagles - City Hall, Sheffield (UK) - 27 September 2019

This was my third time seeing the premier Eagles tribute band at Sheffield's City Hall. As usual, only the stalls area was open; however, this did not detract from the warm atmosphere. The main five musicians (sadly Danny Vaughn is no longer a member of the band) strolled on to the stage and up to the microphones (Rhys Morgan was partly hidden behind the Perspex screen on his drum kit) for an a cappella rendition of 'Seven Bridges Road'. As usual, they had the harmony vocals down to perfection.
They then picked up their guitars for 'Peaceful Easy Feeling' with Stephen Barlow on lead vocals. Michael Lawrence then assumed the responsibility for 'Witchy Woman' and Christopher Wright on the beautiful 'Tequila Sunrise'. In the absence of Vaughn, Lawrence took the role as lead frontman, introducing Emma Johnson on piano for 'How Long'. Amusingly, he welcomed her on stage from the wrong direction!
'Lyin' Eyes', which Lawrence described as the ultimate Eagles song, was executed to perfection and gave the opportunity for the audience to sing along, which we duly did. The talented Barlow featured on pedal steel guitar on the Tom Waites written ''Ol' 55', a rare cover in the Eagles back catalogue.

Each tour the Ultimate Eagles do something a little different, and this year was no exception. They decided to go back to just before it all began, when the original members were the backing musicians to American songstress Linda Ronstadt. Now this would have been a pretty pointless exercise without a female vocalist; cue the introduction of guest singer Shellyann Evans ('The Voice UK' and winner of this year's BBC One's 'All Together Now'). Not only did she have an angelic voice, but also an uncanny resemblance to a young Ronstadt. 'You're No Good', 'Lovesick Blues', 'Blue Bayou' and 'Rescue Me' were a surprise but welcome inclusion in tonight's set.
Lawrence said that he had been imploring musical director Wright for ten years to include his favourite Eagles song 'Sad Cafe', which featured Jones on saxophone and a video backdrop of the legendary Troubadour in L.A. Set one was brought to an emotional climax with 'The Last Resort', which Glenn Frey famously stated as the best song Don Henley ever wrote. So that concluded the first half of the show, but the band had left enough classics to ensure the second half was equally as good, if not better.

The quintessential 'One Of These Nights' started set two, followed by 'New Kid In Town' written about Bruce Springsteen (I wonder what ever happened to him?). 'I Can't Tell You Why' saw Wright take on the Timothy B. Schmidt role for the Westcoast classic. Evans was introduced back on stage (again from the wrong direction) for a duet with Lawrence, 'Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough', the Patty Smyth written classic she originally recorded with Henley.

Lawrence then introduced Thunder's Chris Childs for the heaviest number of the evening, 'Get Over It'. Despite an aged audience, most seemed more than happy with the harder Rock. The main set was brought to a tumultuous celebration with 'Already Gone', 'Heartache Tonight', 'Life In The Fast Lane' and the ultimate classic 'Hotel California'.

The band left the stage for less than thirty seconds before returning for a three-song encore, starting with a raucous rendition of Joe Walsh's 'Rocky Mountain Way', followed by fan favourite 'Take It Easy' and the sensational 'Desperado'. The standing ovation was the least that these ultra-talented musicians deserved. Once again, I cannot recommend the Ultimate Eagles highly enough; fantastic entertainment.

Review and photos by Mark Donnelly

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