EVENT JFK's ‘The Best of Eagles' was a trip back in time to an era when the legendary band worked its magic
Three decades after the Eagles first arrived at their legendary ‘Hotel California', there seems to be ample space left at that decaying symbol of the Seventies, evoked in the song of the same name. At ‘The Best of Eagles' concert by Jus' for kicks (JFK) there were evidently a number of people who, as the song implied, checked out but never really left the era encompassed by the Eagles' music.
Half-an-hour of listening to persistent cicadas and the drone of airplanes later, JFK kicked off the concert at the star-lit, moon-tipped Bucks Theatre, YMCA, with the melodious ‘Busy Being Fabulous' from one of Eagles' later albums ‘Long Road Out of Eden'.
Over the next two hours, the band's line-up, comprising Sujan Daniel, Richard Nathan and Prashanth Gasper (vocals), Shayne Fernandez (keyboard), Tim Elliot and Keith Antao (guitar), Gerard Joseph (bass guitar) and Immanuel Theophles (drums), sang romantic love songs, lost lonely love songs and, sensitive but hard tales of Hollywood decadence from the Eagles' later albums. They sang of an America, post-Watergate and of crumbling dreams, of Natives without lands, of people with lost souls.
JFK distilled this euphoria and disillusionment in finely-crafted form through the aching earnestness of its singers, the consistent leisurely tempos, the cushion of high harmonies, a myriad ways of arranging “ooh” and skilful guitar filigree.
The 21 songs survived JFK's thoughtful variations though most rode close to the originals. Richard Nathan excelled in ‘Frail Grasp', ‘Heartache' and ‘Get Over It' — a blues-driven rant that sent Richard's voice rocketing into the night. His range is commendable — from being achingly husky in ‘Victim of Love', it took on a Bee Gees impression in the falsetto funk of ‘Fast Company'.
Sujan, who's voice and persona is the heart of the band, sang the more melodious country-based numbers, from ‘Busy Being Fabulous', the lilting ‘Lyin' Eyes', and the soulful ‘New Kid in Town' to the overwhelming paradise-lost cynicism of ‘Last Resort'. Prashanth's honeyed voice and sweet tenor transformed the lines of ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive'.
Keith's light solo playing was underlined by his superb electric clout and his slide, while Tim worked up boisterous, string-bending solos. Along with Gerard, their guitar riffs excited and embraced (‘One Of These Nights') with impeccable Memphis-soul drumming from Immanuel (especially in ‘Witchy Woman'), and lilting keys from Shayne.
The voices blended to sing the iconic ‘Take it Easy', complete with the rural sound of a bluegrass banjo, ‘Seven Bridges Road' and a song to that rebel without a cause, ‘James Dean'. The band wrapped up, but not before the audience had had their fill of the seminal ‘Hotel California' with Prashanth, Richard and Sujan.
And so, it was at an open-air theatre under a raintree that JFK, through their verve, emotion and unvarnished grace, shone the spotlight on a musical template that captured the American spirit in a decade of change.