SUCKING IN THE SEVENTIES

THE EAGLES AND PINK FLOYD BRING BACK THE ME DECADE.

For anyone who thought that punk rock would destroy the popular music of the Seventies, last week was an enormous repudiation. The Eagles, who appeared June 14 through June 16 at Fiddler's Green, and Pink Floyd, who headlined at Mile High Stadium June 18, played before a cumulative total of more than 100,000 people apparently happy to have paid as much as $73 a ticket for the privilege of being there. These acts seemingly have little in common, but their Denver-area shows demonstrated that there are plenty of similarities.

Eagles: Showtime is supposed to be 7 p.m., but it's 7:30 before an announcer promises that the band will appear in five minutes--and nearly 25 minutes more before the performers actually arrive. The crowd doesn't seem to care. Perhaps 20 percent of those here look like (probably) reformed cocaine dealers, a like number their (probably) reformed ex-customers. The rest of those here seem satisfied to stargaze. Wow--there's Barry Fey, cutting a fine figure of a man (or maybe two men) talking to Channel 4's Greg Moody! Zoiks--there's John Oates, formerly of Hall and Oates! He's much cuter in person!

As 8 p.m. nears, a twentysomething behind me says to a friend, "Do you want to go get a beer?"

"Maybe--but don't you want to be here when they come out?"
"I don't care. My dad paid for these tickets."

Pink Floyd: Showtime is supposed to be 8:30 p.m., but as 9 p.m. nears, the only sounds coming from the stage are random sound effects: swooping airplanes, chirping birds. The crowd doesn't seem to care. Everyone, no matter how young or old, seems to be stoked to the gills. One guy advises his girlfriend, "When you're tripping, you need to know exactly what's going on at all times." Behind me, five men in their mid-twenties spend fifteen minutes yelling at each other, their faces only inches apart. Their favorite phrases: "Aaargh!" and "Pink fucking Floyd!" As helicopter sounds drone from the speakers, one of the men taps my wife, Deb, on the shoulder. "Excuse me," he says, "but could you hand me the bag I dropped behind your seat? It's got about twenty joints in it."

E: "We should've gone to get that beer," says the guy behind me. Seconds later the Eagles and their backup musicians (including a bongo player who looks disturbingly like a young Michael Bolton) step onto a stage designed to look like a scene from Road Warrior, except much tidier. The crowd leaps to its collective feet at the sound of the first few bars of "Hotel California," then sits back down fifteen seconds later. Still, Deb is thrilled. She's a typical Eagles fan, in that she loves the band's music but doesn't know Glenn Frey from Don Henley, can't remember the names of either Don Felder or Timothy B. Schmit and thinks that Joe Walsh, whose hair has gone completely gray, resembles Grandpa Jones from Hee Haw. During the song, Walsh pads around as if he's just had an unexpected bowel movement but can't figure out what to do about it.

PF: "Dude, guys are pissing everywhere," says one of the young men nearby. "They're pissing in the bushes. They're pissing in the trash cans." Suddenly, the stadium lights go out and the Bic lighters flare up. A mammoth plume of sweet-smelling smoke rises from the row behind me as a song from Pink Floyd's first album roars from the speaker stacks and Sixties-esque psychedelic images splash across the gigantic stage. The band's probably on stage by now, but it's hard to tell. No matter, though. "Here we go, chief," shouts a fiftyish fellow, his pipe fired. "Pink fucking Floyd!"

E: The live version of "Hotel California" is identical to the original recording, as is song number two, "Victim of Love," and every smash that follows. The musicians hardly move. Frey, looking like a stereo salesman with a Pat Reilly fixation, occasionally shifts from side to side, Felder bends his knees once in a while and Walsh stares through thick glasses at his own fingers, seemingly surprised that they belong to him. The effect is akin to watching cardboard cutouts of the Eagles while a greatest hits album plays in the background. When I point out to Deb that the players are offering note-for-note clones of twenty-year-old tunes, she bellows, "Yeah--and that's what we want!"

PF: During the band's second song, a spotlight briefly shines on drummer Nick Mason, but the rest of the group remains shrouded in darkness. The mob is into the song, but it's much more impressed by the first burst of green laser beams. In the meantime, I'm getting a major contact high. I haven't been this blitzed since 1982, when I took my last puff of pot. And it's all free.

E: "Thank you, Colorado," Frey says before inviting the crowd to enjoy some "good-time rock and roll." He then starts playing "New Kid in Town," which is to good-time rock and roll what O.J. Simpson is to mental stability. In mid-song, a man down the row from me gets a call on his cellular telephone. It's his wife, who has just had the couple's baby and can't be here tonight. Her husband holds up the phone so she can hear the music. Love, Nineties style.

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