Hold on, Steelers and Cardinals. You'll get your turn in the spotlight Sunday at Super Bowl XLIII.
Thursday night, downtown Tampa belonged to Eagles.
Not the Philadelphia species but the venerable SoCal rock band formed when NFL fans' knowledge of Roman numerals only stretched to VI. That's 37 years and many jukeboxes ago.
The Eagles transformed the St. Pete Times Forum into another one, romping through a playlist almost exclusively devoted to greatest hits taking four albums to cover, so far. These pioneers of the SoCal sound are grayer but no less great.
Dressed in Reservoir Dogs couture, the core quartet — Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit — serenaded the faithful, never straying far from their studio-perfected sound: guitars chiming, backbeat steady and voices locked in harmony.
Surprising? Never. Satisfying? Always.
Four selections from the band's Grammy-nominated Long Road Out of Eden CD opened the nearly three-hour show while traffic-stricken late arrivals settled in. They'd be out of their seats before long. A mariachi trumpet and rattlesnake maracas intro to Hotel California drew a flashback roar, and the hit parade was on.
Peaceful Easy Feeling. I Can't Tell You Why, Witchy Woman ("from our satanic country-rock rhythm and blues period," cracked Frey). The guitarist and sometime actor is the band's rimshot guy, dedicating Lyin' Eyes "to my ex-wife, Plaintiff" and declaring Take It to the Limit as her credit card song.
Henley's material is still the Eagles' toughest stuff, although age seems to have drained some acid from The Boys of Summer, The Long Run and Dirty Laundry, songs composed in another time, another mind-set. Walsh's prankish behavior is tamed (except for the video cam cap) but not his fingers: Walk Away earned one of the night's loudest, most sustained cheers; In the City, Life's Been Good and his Hotel California licks are ever-tasty radio rock. Schmit's honeyed voice still soothes, when it isn't taken beyond the limit on occasion.
You'd be hard-pressed to think of an Eagles tune that didn't make the set list. Finding anyone who would complain about an omission would be even tougher. There was a Legend in Clearwater on Thursday night and pop tarts 2.0 across town, but 17,143 fans wouldn't have swapped them for what Frey puckishly called "the Eagles assisted living tour — and we're the band that wouldn't die."
Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected]times.com or (727) 893-8365.