It’s safe to say I am a fan of The Eagles. So when I read there was going to be an Eagles tribute band at the Touchstone Energy Stage at the Missouri State Fair I was all over it. I didn’t make it to every single show because my schedule wouldn’t allow it but I did make it to most of them. The band even started to recognize me.
The Touchstone Energy stage is kind of small compared to some of the venues they’ve played in the past. From Disney all the way to the “Three Little Bakers Dinner Theater,” their act has taken them all over the country.
The first thing you might notice about Hotel California: A Salute to The Eagles is that they have a lot of instruments. There’s a console steel guitar, a double-necked guitar, and a mandolin included in their collection of stringed instruments. A lesser tribute band might choose to recreate some of those distinct musical sounds with the instruments they already have.
They’ve got two sets: one at 3:30 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. The second set was better, but that doesn’t mean the first set was bad. The first one was just a little slow. It’s got “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” and “Lying’ Eyes” and other songs that fall into the mellower section of The Eagles’ catalog. It seems to me Hotel California is a little better at the up-tempo stuff.
The first set picked up with Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” and finished strong with their namesake song. They do excel at performing the song people think of when they think of The Eagles. The whole band excels during the outro, but especially Byron Fry and his double-necked axe.
But the real question here is a simple one: do they sound like The Eagles? Well, I’ve never actually seen them in concert (Yeah, it’s among my top regrets). Some of the parts of Hotel California’s show aren’t perfect, but the whole package is impressive and produces a reasonably impressive simulated experience.
This was a little more evident during the 7:30 p.m. set.
Don’t get me wrong, band member Wade Hogue is a talented vocalist. But it seems to me his particular vocal inflection would be more appropriate for a Poison, Bon Jovi or Van Halen tribute band. He just sounds like the front man for an ’80s band. But when the band performs “Desperado,” everything just clicks. Houge’s masterful “Desperado” was one of the highlights of the second set.
The second set was full of what seemed to be signature songs for some of the members of the band.
Fry’s vocals and instrumentals for Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” are impressive, too — it’s a tight race, but in terms of both vocal and instrumental ability he might be the most talented member of the band.
Everybody knows the best part of “Take it to the Limit” is near the end when Randy Meisner hits the high notes (Specifically his “wee-eee”). Scott Fronsoe handles vocal duties for that song and seems to understand that, because he inserts at least two more instances of that particular vocal moment. I can forgive a lot when someone can hit those high notes and Fronsoe hits them really, really well.
But it doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the people think and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a series of shows at the Touchstone Energy Stage that have been so well attended. People showed up in droves for Hotel California; they loved the first set, they loved the second set — the standing ovations were frequent.
I’m beginning to think the sort of people who attend the Missouri State Fair might also be the sort of people who celebrate the entire catalog of The Eagles.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.