There's nothing like making a point of the obvious. "We're the Eagles, from Los Angeles," Glenn Frey told the sold-out house Monday at the Capital Centre, acting as if the Eagles don't have California written all over them.
With a hit album called "Hotel California" and a well-publicized reputation for limiting their social life to other members of L.A.'s cliquish rock 'n roll royalty, the Eagles are the archetypal West Coast band.
Last night's two-hour plus performance, which followed an opening set by Jimmy Buffett, revealed that their music is as slick as ever and their lyrics just a shade too self-centered to be taken to heart.
On Monday's two-hour-plus perform-Joe Walsh came dressed for the first of two Washington shows in sweat shirts that advertised universities in Colorado and Illinois, or that no one in the group is actually from California. The California outlook in rock 'n roll always means peculiar fascination with "easy money and faithless women" - subjects the eagles have explored almost to the point of exhaustion, in language that grows increasingly predictable.
Fortunately, there was more to Monday's show than mere words. The Eagles are much better musicians than lyricists, especially now that Walsh, who replaced founding member Bernie Leadon early last year, is around prod the other four with his superlative, hard-rocking guitar work.
That this performance, the sixth the Eagles have given in the Washington area in the last five years, was to have more spunk than the others was obvious even from the opening number, "Hotel California." The song builds to a spectacular guitar exchange between Walsh and Don Felder, a pattern that was repeated later, with equally delightful results, on "Turn To Stone."
This Joe Walsh number and "Already Gone: which featured a Frey-Felder guitar duel, came after a long spell of mid-show doldrums which threatened to sink the evening. "Try and Love Again," weakened by bassist Randy Meisner's disappointingly whiny vocal, and the hit single "New Kid in Town" were probably the most listless moments in the concert.
The weakness of these particular songs is partly instrinsic. The critisms that the Eagles - Frey and drummer Don Henley in particular - express about the artificiality of life in California ring hollow largely because the Eagles themselves, like it or not, are so very much a part of the glittery, trendy world they mock.
Outside, before the show, scalpers were selling tickets for as much as $25, suggesting that these two concerts are the pop event of the year thus far and that the Eagles are rock's most popular all-American band.