Review: Eagles at Co-op Live masterfully perform the classics for farewell tour

Eagles on stage with their instruments in front of projected backdrop featuring Deacon Frey on guitar
-Credit: (Image: Alex Crosby (Photographer) & Eagles)

“We’re in the midst of our 52nd year playing these songs for you,” Don Henley tells the Eagles’ opening night crowd at Manchester’s Co-op Live Arena.

“We’re doing that with no fireworks, no confetti cannons, no wind machine, no choreography. Just a bunch of guys with guitars.”

‘Just a bunch of guys with guitars’ is a fairly modest appraisal of one of the most successful acts of all time, with more than 200 million records sold worldwide, six number one albums and six Grammys, to name but a few of their accomplishments.

READ MORE: Eagles Manchester set list in full - every song from Co-op Live residency’s opening night

A montage of archive footage and photography raises the curtain, rewinding back to where it all began in the early 1970s. There’s a feeling of finality in the air - and if that feels like an obvious thing to say about a farewell tour titled The Long Goodbye, let’s not forget that Eagles have said goodbye more than a few times already.

When ‘hell freezes over’ was when Henley declared they’d play together again after splitting in 1980. The Hell Freezes Over live album and tour followed 14 years later. Then came the Farewell 1 tour that concluded in 2006. And yet here we are.

The band begins with Seven Bridges Road, its pitch-perfect vocal harmonies proving Henley right: there’s no need for smoke and mirrors in a set this tight, with such masterful musicianship.

Eagles open the first of five dates on their Long Goodbye Tour at Manchester's Co-op Live Arena
Eagles open the first of five dates on their Long Goodbye Tour at Manchester's Co-op Live Arena -Credit: Alex Crosby (Photographer) & Eagles

The first of five shows at the venue, these are the only UK dates on the farewell tour - a coup made possible by Co-op Live’s impeccable connections. Arena owner OVG’s co-founder and music mogul Irving Azoff has been the band’s manager for more than forty years. After an opening season plagued by well-publicised problems, if there was one show you’d hope would go without a hitch it was this one.

There was only one spanner in the works, and it came long before the show, with Steely Dan pulling out of their scheduled support slot last month due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’. They’re at least partially present in erstwhile member Michael McDonald of The Doobie Brothers, who more than compensate as a replacement opening act.

And while the venue’s shaky start is referenced a few times by Henley in the Eagles’ set, it’s performances like tonight that will be what people remember 10 years from now.

Adding to the emotion of this fond farewell is the presence of late co-frontman and guitarist Glenn Frey’s son Deacon, who’s been part of the touring line-up since 2017.

Capably filling his father’s shoes, he takes centre stage on lead vocals for Take It Easy, the second song of the set, with the confidence of someone who’s been doing this for decades longer.

Country music legend Vince Gill is also part of the band’s current configuration, lending his velvety vocals to Lyin’ Eyes and Take it to the Limit.

The set list rollicks through their catalogue of classics, from Witchy Woman and Peaceful Easy Feeling to Tequila Sunrise and Life in the Fast Lane. Everyone has their time to shine, with Joe Walsh stepping into the spotlight for In the City and Life’s Been Good and living up to his reputation as ‘master of the Stratocaster’ with his squalling guitar solos.

Joe Walsh of the Eagles at Manchester's Co-op Live Arena for their Long Goodbye Tour -Credit:Alex Crosby (Photographer) & Eagles
Joe Walsh of the Eagles at Manchester's Co-op Live Arena for their Long Goodbye Tour -Credit:Alex Crosby (Photographer) & Eagles

The bowl becomes a sea of twinkling torchlight as they return to open their encore with Hotel California followed Rocky Mountain Way. The phone lights are out again and the emotion is palpable during piano ballad Desperado, then the whole arena is up and dancing, hands in the air, to Heartache Tonight.

Is this truly goodbye? Time will tell. Either way, their legacy will endure long after the tour wraps next year.

They put it best themselves back when they announced these dates: “This is our swan song, but the music goes on and on.”