You could feel the unanswered questions hanging in the air as thousands of Eagles fans filed into KeyBank Center for the legendary band's Saturday night concert.
What would they sound like without founder Glenn Frey, who died in 2016 after leading the band for 45 years? Can they still sing the trademark soaring harmonies with three senior members – Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit – all in their early 70s? How would new band members – country rocker Vince Gill, and Frey's son, Deacon – fit in? Would the concert be anywhere near as good as the stellar Buffalo show they put on in July 2015, which turned out to be the second-last concert of Frey's career?
Most doubts were erased 30 seconds into the opening number, as the band stood on a dimly lit stage and sang "Seven Bridges Road," one of their prettiest harmony workouts.
The Eagles can still rock. They still have the harmonies helped sell more than 129 million records.
"Seven Bridges Road" is not an easy song to sing. To me, it sounded like the Eagles were trying to prove – right up front – that they are really back.
After that, we were all treated to a very entertaining two hour, 20-minute show that included most of the hits, such as "Hotel California," "One of These Nights," "Tequila Sunrise" and "Take It Easy," some lesser-known songs such as the wistful "Ol' '55," and some delightful rockers from Walsh's solo career.
The two new Eagles, Gill and young Deacon Frey, turned out to be excellent additions. Between them, they handled most of the lead vocals formerly performed by Glenn Frey.
With his beautiful voice and Grammy Award-winning guitar skills, Gill brings a whole new element to the Eagles. His uplifting rendition of "Take It To The Limit" was powerful enough to inspire 18,000 people to sing along. And with Gill joining a lineup that already includes Walsh and the underrated Steuart Smith, the Eagles have three terrific guitarists.
With hair to his shoulders, 25-year-old Deacon Frey looks and sounds like a younger version of his departed dad.
Henley, a compelling singer, and Walsh, the band's wild rocker, provided many highlights. I especially enjoyed "Funk 49," an intense song from Walsh's old band, the James Gang, and of course, "Hotel California." A very fine band, featuring Rochester keyboard player Will Hollis, at times was augmented by string and horn sections.
After Glenn Frey's death, Henley – the only original member – said the Eagles would never play together again. Months later, he announced the band would regroup with two new members.
"I changed my mind," he explained. I'm glad he did.