BEIJING, Jan. 11 (Xinhuanet) — The rock band will play its first gig in the Chinese mainland, as part of a world tour that sold more than 600,000 tickets for 40 shows in 2010.
Forty years after the Eagles was founded, the United States band will perform in the Chinese mainland for the first time. Eagles will play at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on March 9 and the Wukesong Arena in Beijing on March 12, as part of its Long Road out of Eden world tour, which will also include Taipei and Hong Kong.
“I’m really excited about going to China. We are running out of places we’ve never been to, so it’s exciting to go to a new place,” said the band’s guitarist and singer Joe Walsh in an exclusive interview with China Daily after a recent Eagles concert in Melbourne, Australia. “It’s like a whole different energy going somewhere for the first time.”
Titled after its 2007 album, the Long Road out of Eden concert is set to feature songs from the double CD, as well as Eagles classics like Hotel California, Desperado, and Take It Easy.
“I don’t know how familiar Chinese audiences are with the Eagles’ music. We may rework the set list a little bit for the concerts in China. Fortunately we have many songs so we can rotate them,” Walsh said.
Founded in 1971, the Eagles released six highly successful albums in the 1970s. The band broke up in 1980 but reunited in 1994 after taking a “14-year vacation”, said the band’s drummer Don Henley.
With six Grammies, the Eagles is one of the most successful US bands. At the end of the 20th century, two of its albums, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and Hotel California, ranked among the 20 best-selling albums in the US, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
Although at the peak of their career in the 1970s the Eagles was little known in China, it was one of the first Western bands introduced to Chinese audiences in the 1980s, when Chinese radios started to play Western pop music.
“Eagles ranks among the best-known Western groups among Chinese. Every Chinese person who listens to Western pop music knows them,” said DJ Zhang Ming of Love Radio, a 24-hour music radio channel in Shanghai.
“Although most Chinese people cannot name many of their songs, they are familiar with the melodies.”
Zhang said the Eagles’ most popular song in China is Hotel California, and the video of the song from its 1994 live DVD Hell Freezes Over is often used as a test track for sound and video equipment at music equipment stores.
Hotel California, released in 1976 on the band’s album of the same title, is also Walsh’s personal favorite song.
“I say it’s my favorite song because I’m proud of the guitar work,” Walsh said. “Some of Eagles’ songs are pretty much automatic for me now, but to play Hotel California live is still a challenge.”
Aged in their 60s, the Eagles tour extensively. In 2010 it gave 40 concerts around the world, each lasting about three hours.
Walsh, 63, said he keeps fit so as to be able to continue his performing career, goes to the gym, sleeps a lot, meditates and doesn’t drink anymore.
“In the old days I didn’t take care of myself. I didn’t think very much about what I’d be like when I was 60. Now I think the only way I can do what I do is to really take care of myself,” he said.
“I don’t feel like retiring. I don’t feel I’m done yet.”
Talking about the old days, Walsh said he is glad to have been young and learned the guitar when The Beatles started playing, because that is what he’s doing now.
“I have really great memories from the past, but I’m also having a wonderful time being 60 and playing our music to people who come to hear us. That is a real blessing,” he said.
What he cannot adapt to is the way that music is being made in the digital era.
“I don’t really understand a lot of the music that’s out now. Digital recording has really changed the way music is made,” he said. “It’s all like samples instead of performing. You put one part on it at a time and it comes out different. I miss real performances.”
The Eagles has, however, adopted some new technologies, most notably in its use of videos during performances, which Walsh said really adds something to the shows.
Having toured Asia before, Walsh believes the language barrier isn’t much of a problem with the songs, but their jokes between sets don’t work so well.
Although Walsh has never been in China, he expects Chinese audiences will be more polite than those in the West. Also, he’s not sure if they will sing along with the tunes as much as in other parts of the world.
“It’s OK if they don’t sing. If they do that’ll be great, but we won’t expect it. We will just go play an Eagles concert and be us. However the audience wants to react is fine as long as they have a good time and hear the songs that they come to hear,” he said.
Tickets for the Eagles concerts in Shanghai and Beijing are already on sale, with prices ranging from 350 to 2,580 yuan ($52.77-388.96).
“Overall this year (2010) the Eagles has sold over 600,000 tickets to just 40 shows worldwide and grossed over $62 million. We hope the shows in Shanghai and Beijing will also sell out,” said Luke Hede, vice-president of promotion for Live Nation Asia Pacific, promoter of the China tour.
Hede says the level of the venues and professionalism of live performances in China has increased substantially in the last few years and Beijing and Shanghai now have some of the best venues in the world.
The Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and the Wukesong Arena in Beijing were built, respectively, for the World Expo and Olympic Games.
“There is not a long history of live performances of Western artists in China, but China is definitely a very important market because it has the biggest population in the world,” he said.
“We are learning the rules and culture of China and trying to bring more Western artists to perform in China.”
(Source: China Daily)
Original article title: “Eagles still soaring”
Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/indepth/2011-01/11/c_13685123.htm