When Glenn Frey died in 2016, his fellow Eagles founder Don Henley said the band would never play live again.
Speaking to BBC Radio 2, he said that playing a tribute to his co-star at the 2016 Grammys had been “very difficult and very emotional”, adding, “I don’t think you’ll see us performing again”.
But on Sunday, the Californian rockers were back at Wembley Stadium, opening the UK leg of their world tour.
And the catalyst for their phoenix-like return was Frey’s 25-year-old son.
Taking to the stage, Henley said the band would be playing “two-and-a-half hours of music – because we can.
“And the reason we can is because we have Glenn’s son Deacon up here with us.”
Henley went on to describe Deacon as “a young man in big shoes and he’s stepped up like a champ. I know his father would be proud – is proud.”
It was left to Deacon to introduce Peaceful Easy Feeling, one of the tracks his dad used to sing. “This is so cool, this place is so big,” he said.
“I’m having a blast – such a treat. This is the joy of my life so far.”
It received one if the biggest audience responses of the night, especially after the video screens displayed a tribute to his father, who died of complications arising from rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and pneumonia.
Deacon more than ably filled his father’s shoes, his harmonies blending seamlessly with his more storied bandmates. It didn’t hurt that he looked like his dad, either, with the long hair and moustache you’d have seen in a classic Eagles photo from the 70s.
Another addition to the line-up was country star Vince Gill, who took on some of Frey’s other songs – Take It To The Limit, Tequila Sunrise and Heartache Tonight, adding a Nashville twang for good measure.
The show also included solo hits by the various bandmates, including Don Henley’s Boys of Summer and Joe Walsh’s In The City.
But of the 24 songs in the setlist, the highlights all came at the end of the night – Life in the Fast Lane, Hotel California and Desperado, still potent after all these years.
The show came 44 years after the Eagles first played Wembley, in the summer of 1975, supporting the Beach Boys – and their fifth appearance at the stadium overall.
The atmosphere was muted between songs, with the video screens going dark and precious little banter from the band. However, the harmonies, guitar work and a supremely talented brass section sent the audience – which included One Direction stars Niall Horan and Harry Styles – home happy.
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