The Eagles reopened the refurbished Forum Wednesday night with a concert that emphasized the care and precision that went into their records in the 1970s, a perfect night of nostalgia for fans who care to remember the Forum when Jerry West was the Lakers star and "One of These Nights" was hit on FM radio.
The approach, with original guitarist Bernie Leadon playing the entire first set, meant the Forum's acoustic improvements, part of a $100 million renovation, would be gradually tested and in ways the average 21st century show would not (clear harmonies, multiple acoustic guitars, no visual effects).
During the renovation of the Forum, steel reinforcement was placed in the roof and ceiling so that 350,000 pounds of of lighting and sound equipment could hang from the rafters. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
Late in the second set, Glenn Frey gave a short speech encouraging people to return to the Forum to see other acts and to note that it is the only large venue unencumbered by the schedules and needs of the NBA or NHL. "It's going to become the premier large venue (in North America)," he predicted. "It's about the only facelift I care for in Hollywood."
Frey and his bandmates had a slightly different view of the venue than the paying customers. The building has nine dressing rooms, seven of them built to headliner specifications; a lounge adjacent to the floor seats for friends and family; and a game room. The private Forum Club was buzzing with invited guests prior to the concert, most notably with ELO's Jeff Lynne, Edgar Winter and CAA's Rob Light.
Improvements for fans included carpeted and improved concession stands in the corridors and, for the first time, on the floor level, new, heavily cushioned seats, and the absence of a scoreboard in the center of the arena.
Besides the nine new dressing rooms, one of the amenities for artists and their entourages is a friends and family room that looks out onto the floor of the Forum.(Photo: Phil Gallo)
The bare bones nature of the building remains intact. You can still walk from the floor to the last row and there is not a single advertisement in the room.
A worker paints the names of artists who have played the Forum since it opened in 1968 in the tunnel leading from the loading dock to the Forum floor. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
The unseen side of the improvements include steel reinforcement in the ceiling and roof that allow banks of PA speakers to hang from the rafters 72 feet above the floor. The Eagles six-night stand has behind-the-stage seats blocked; the venue can be scaled down to 9,000 seats with the upper sections curtained off via eight sheets on a mechanical operating system or expanded to a 17,000 capacity.
A 1,400 square foot game room backstage includes vintage
bowling game, pinball and video machines and golf simulator
where users can play on more than 80 courses. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
Madison Square Garden officials have told Billboard they see that flexibility as a key selling point in competing with the L.A. Live venues, Staples Center and Nokia Theater, and giving the venue a shot at replacing the razed Gibson Amphitheater that seated just over 6,000. In the coming year, they expect to present about 100 concerts.