The Eagles’ name was the one on the marquee at the corner of Manchester and Prairie, but it was the $100 million renovation of the once again fabulous Forum by MSG chief Jim Dolan and industry mogul Irving Azoff that was the star at the venue’s official public opening Wednesday night. Armed with plush theater seating, a twinkling overhead infrastructure capable of holding 350,000 pounds of lighting and sound equipment, a theatre-like intimacy for its 13,700 fans and, most especially, acoustics with all the clarity of a high-end stereo system in your living room, The Forum hosted the first of six Eagles shows over the next two weeks. Perhaps the only quibble is the retention of the venue’s notorious lack of leg room. At a buzzing pre-show VIP Forum Club, where hors d’oeuvres were served before and a buffet dinner after, Dolan and Azoff were busy greeting guests, including ELO’s Jeff Lynne, Edgar Winter, CAA’s Rob Light, veteran promotion exec Richard Palmese, New York Knicks PR chief Barry Watkins, spin guru Larry Solters exulting in the positive press coverage and current Forum vp/gm Nick Spampanato.
Dolan’s blues band, “JD and the Straight Shot,” opened the evening, but the man’s allowed to do anything he pleases after putting up the $123 million to acquire and rebuild this state-of-the-art venue, an anomaly in the world of arenas in not housing any sports teams. As for the main attraction, dubbing the show “The History of the Eagles,” the venerable country-rockers took a chronological Storytellers meets Stop-Making-Sense approach to the first part of the almost three-hour show. Don Henley and Glenn Frey sauntered onto the stage from opposite sides with acoustic guitars, sitting on equipment cases to perform “Saturday Night” before bringing on original member Bernie Leadon to sing “Train Leaves Here This Morning,” followed by Timothy B. Schmit, Joe Walsh and then the rest of their crack nine-piece band.