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June 17, 2014

Hotel California - A Salute to the Eagles @ Epcot's 'Sounds Like Summer' Concert Series

The "Sounds Like Summer" concert series officially kicked off on June 8th. Running daily through July 26th, this musical celebration is an annual staple at Epcot. Sounds Like Summer is a series of concert performances that feature cover bands paying tribute to legendary greats. Some of the scheduled acts are event regulars - like this year's openers, Hotel California ("A Salute to the Eagles").


Typically, each band will perform three times a day, for a six day stretch (check schedules to verify). Considering that I was raised by an Eagles loving mom, and I recently missed the Orlando stop on their recent tour... I was anxious to fill the void with a Hotel California show. They are known as the go-to Eagles when The Eagles can't bring themselves to be The Eagles... if you get my drift. One look at their client list lends credibility to their ability to channel one of rock's most impressive acts. I planned on catching the very first show, to begin promptly at 5:30. 





To insure that I wouldn't be delayed (as usual, we were running late), I took the boat right across World Showcase Lagoon to Morocco. En route, our boat's Captain announced that this would be the last boat to run for a while, as an ugly storm was rolling in. "Take cover!!!", she shouted as we docked. Anyone familiar with a Florida summer knows that what sounds like a horrific monsoon is really just a shower that will pour for a moment and move on, so we trudged on to America Gardens Theater... just in time to see that the early show was cancelled. Ouch!

After meandering about, and waiting for the ick to pass, the line started to form for the 6:45 show. I haven't always noticed the summer shows to draw the excessive lines that other Epcot concerts do, but after considering that many of the evicted guests from the early show would probably return for this one, we opted to line up. Good decision! It led to front row seats.


Every set is different. For this performance, Hotel California opened with "Life in the Fast Lane"... and they nailed it! I was pleasantly surprised to be treated to "Seven Bridges Road" next. The harmonies in that one really highlight the vocal talents of The Eagles, and Hotel California met the goal there, hands down. I hadn't expected to catch songs from the solo ventures, and I about jumped out of my skin when they busted into a smashing version of Glenn Frey's "Dirty Laundry" - one of my personal favorites! "One of These Nights" and "I Can't Tell You Why" showcased a couple of Eagles classics, but had a couple of noticeable flat notes. I wouldn't pick nits because it's not like I could do better, but... they rounded out the set with (of course) "Hotel California", and I have to say - it fell apart. I don't often catch little musical 'oopsies' in live performances. I'm a musical lover, but not a musician. I'm a fan, so I want to be impressed... even if I shouldn't always be. Even I could not deny that this was cringe-worthy from about the first chorus, and it simply never recovered. Gino is a musician, and after I noticed most of the spectators around me wincing, I asked him... "was that technical snafus, or bad performance?" "Bad performance, absolutely", was his response. 


I really wanted to catch another performance before writing this review. Unfortunately, life got in the way last week and Epcot just didn't happen. I have no reason to think this is typical for Hotel California performances, and in fairness... the weather was creating a bit of chaos. It appeared that the second show was touch and go for a moment as another band of stormy weather loomed overhead, so it's possible that they didn't have the necessary time to get things up to par pre-show. I enjoyed the performance, and it was a good time. I will absolutely be catching them again when they return to Epcot in 2015. 


This week's band - Don't Stop Believin': A Tribute to Journey. For the entire Sounds Like Summer schedule, click here

   

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