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Canberra Today 22°/25° | Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Tribute band takes it to the limit, one more time

The Australian Eagles… “Close your eyes and we’re the next best thing,” says Shayne Browne.

 

Life in the Fast Lane, the Australian Eagles tribute show never seen in Canberra, will include The Linda Ronstadt Story, a show within a show dedicated to the singer-songwriter who had a seminal influence on the American band. 

Brisbane tribute artist Brooke McMullen, known for The Johnny Cash & June Carter Show, will join the band to perform Ronstadt classics such as Blue Bayou, You’re No Good and It’s So Easy, also telling a bit more of the Ronstadt story in the second half. 

Given the prolific output of both the Eagles and Ronstadt, it’s hard to see how they can cram it all into two 70-minute sets, but when I catch up with lead guitarist and a founding member of the Australian Eagles Show, Shayne Browne, he seems undaunted, telling me: “We will fit in as many hits as we can get in”.

He describes McMullen’s show as “a kind of show within a show”, saying they were determined to find a spot in both sets to fit it in, since the connection between Ronstadt and the Eagles is tight and “if there was no Linda Ronstadt, there’d be no Eagles”.

True.

It was Ronstadt who first introduced the band to audiences as her back-up band on tour. Then her hit cover of Jackson Browne’s Desperado inspired Eagles members Glenn Frey and Don Henley to write their song of the same name.

“Brooke comes out about halfway through the first section and then she returns about halfway through the second section, but we are on stage all the time – we play for her,” he says. 

“Hardened Eagles fans will know all of what she says, but all those new Eagle fans will love the connection, because they come from the same place.”

With five of them, Murray Thomas, Browne, Dave Griffiths, Greg Eastwood, Paul Kerin and Greg Richards all playing and singing vocal harmonies, the show’s aim is unashamedly to recreate the classics of the Eagles, including New Kid in Town, Take it to the Limit and Heartache Tonight.

And there’s no way that they’ll disappoint their audiences, who would “skin us alive” if they missed out on a favourite, so they’ll also pay homage to the solo hits of Eagles musos Joe Walsh, Don Henley, and the late Glenn Frey.

“Imagine if you did a show without Tequila Sunrise, for instance,” he says. 

“But there are so many more you couldn’t not do, right from their first single, Take it Easy, to their 1976 mega-hit, Hotel California”.

There are no problems in being an international touring tribute band, Browne says. It doesn’t cause any ructions with the Eagles, nowadays Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B Schmit, Deacon Frey and Vince Gill. 

Armed with a half-century back catalogue, they’re still touring today, though they’re getting a little on the elderly side, with Walsh and Henley both 76 years old. 

“We are bringing in new audiences… most of them listened to their parents’ records and they could still see the real Eagles, that’s part of the mix,” he says.

Browne, a Brisbane boy, got his start sitting in his mum’s Holden sedan in 1973 while Take it Easy was playing on the radio.

“I said, I want to play like that, picked up the guitar and I’m still playing the music,” he says.

“We don’t try to look like them, we don’t try and dress like them, we just aim to sound like them – close your eyes and we’re the next best thing.”

Life in the Fast Lane, The Australian Eagles, The Playhouse, February 10. 

 

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Helen Musa

Helen Musa

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