The Illegal Eagles
Reviewer: Jo Payne
One could be forgiven for thinking that a classic mega-group tribute band to would consist of a collection of greying seniors attempting to recreate their original sound. In many cases, that is unfortunately too true. Not for these guys. The Illegal Eagles have been touring the country, with a variety of line-ups, playing, arranging and rocking-out Eagles hits for a whopping 18 years. This is more than just a tribute band; this is a group of seasoned and talented musicians who love to make music and recreate the distinctive sound and style of the Eagles. At a time when the Eagles themselves are playing out crowds to a sold-out O2 arena, this group have their own band of loyal fans who appreciate their sound and skill.
The band open with tight, multi-layered harmonies for ‘Take It Easy’ and, throughout the evening, they are introduced to the audience one-by-one. Al Vosper gives a stunning rendition of ‘Saturday Night’ before arguably the most talented member of the group, in both vocals and instruments, takes the solo spot. Garreth Hicklin has one of those voices which can instantly melt hearts. His tone is smooth and cool as he effortlessly glides through octaves and riffs around the tune. He lends his vocal talents to ‘New Kid in Town’, which is rumoured to be inspired by Bruce Springsteen, before the youngest member of the band, Greg Webb, leads them in ‘The Heart of the Matter’. During this number, the musicians build towards a seemingly Westlife-inspired rise from their stools as the drums, now played by Hicklin, bring the song to its climax.
With the second half comes a change in set, outfits and lighting to bring with it a different mood while other band members get their moment to shine. Keith Atack gives a haunting performance of the instrumental track ‘I Dreamed There Was No War’ before the guys don an array of sunglasses and up the ante for the Glenn Frey number, ‘The Heat Is On’ and some 80s Eagles hits. Throughout the concert, many members show off their impressive range and Webb showcases his controlled falsetto in ‘Take It to The Limit’. As they draw towards their close, the Illegal Eagles perform a personal favourite, ‘Desperado’, once again with Hicklin at the helm. The delicate balance of solo and backing vocals is controlled carefully in the sound box as the soulful tune is supported by gentle harmonies. The audience finish on their feet, dancing and singing through classic after classic as the atmosphere turns from show to party.
It is easy to forget that this band is a tribute group as they effortlessly switch instruments, sing tight harmonies and explain their setup and ever-changing line-up. Phil Aldridge, one of the founding members of the Illegal Eagles, effectively MCs the night with funny anecdotes, his bandmates’ credits and Eagles trivia. They are a joy to watch and listen to as their chilled attitude and passion for music radiate. Eagles fans and newbies alike can appreciate the talent on stage and in the writing of the songs during this exciting evening out.
Press Photo ¦ Reviewed on 26th June 2014