10 June 2016
Reviewed by Amanda Hayes
On arrival at Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall on Friday night my Mum and I were surprised we had managed to get a seat as there wasn’t an empty one in the house, a real testament to the quality of this band. I love the Eagles music and having had the pleasure of watching the Illegal Eagles perform previously I personally couldn’t wait to hear them again. My mum hadn’t seen the band before but having heard me and my husband raving about them was excited to hear them perform.
We had seats up in the circle and although I have previously sat near the front of the stage where I enjoyed watching the band play their instruments the acoustics were just as good upstairs. There were six amazing musicians playing guitar, keyboards, mandolin and saxophone and drums but they all seemed to be able to play everything and often swapped between instruments. There were two new members since I saw the band a year ago, Trevor Newnham on bass and Christian on lead guitar, he was so new I didn’t get to learn his second name! Bearing in mind Christian had managed to learn the whole show in just three days the sound was just fabulous.
You could tell immediately that they had played together off and on for 20 years, with the exception of the two newer members who blended in seamlessly, as the guitar playing and harmonies really was incredible. I recognised the roadie as I had previously tried to keep count of the amount of times he brought in different guitars, practically every track had a change of guitar.
The first half started with Take It Easy, and went through lots of hits such as Take It To The Limit and Tequila Sunrise, Peaceful Easy Feeling and my personal favourite Heart of the Matter. After playing for around an hour there was a twenty minute interval, just time for an ice cream, and they were back with the favourite tracks such as Desperado, Heartache Tonight and Life in The Fast Lane. They then put their sunglasses on and ramped up the performance on for some 80’s tracks, such as Don Henley’s Boys of Summer and The Heat is On which had the feature saxophone fantastically played by Garreth Hicklin.
Last year when I saw them Phil Aldridge led an improvised acoustic version of Seven Bridges Road and this year it was back bigger and better. Sitting on the front of the stage legs swinging, the six harmonies were pitch perfect, so much so that you couldn’t tell them apart.
Al Vosper introduced the majority of the songs before playing with dates and facts about when, why and where they were written and each band member was also introduced with some history about bands they had played with in the past. Last time I saw them perform I thought they must have a great friendship but this time, even with the addition of two new members, the camaraderie showed itself even more so with a lot of jokes and laughter amongst the band members. The audience all enjoyed the banter and there was a lot of laughter ringing round the auditorium. The set was well laid out with plenty of the Eagles ballad’s where the audience was stunned into silence just listening to the singing and guitar playing, followed by more upbeat tracks where everyone was up out of their seats dancing and clapping.
On completion of the second half they left the stage with everyone shouting and stamping until they came back on and ended with the epic Hotel California.
Having seen this band twice before, and several of my friends having gone multiple times they receive a definite 5 out of 5. We saw them at Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall where the acoustics where brilliant, bar well stocked and smartly renovated and a multi storey parking lot right next door. I highly recommend you see this band if you get a chance they will be back at Tunbridge Wells next year but in the meantime check out their website to see where they are touring near you.
The Illegal Eagles are currently touring around the UK. For more information, tour dates and venues visit www.illegaleagles.com.
For other shows at the Assembly Hall Theatre visit www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk.
Assembly Hall Theatre, Crescent Rd, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2LU | 01892 530613