So, for example, when those dueling guitars take off during “Hotel California,” the chance to watch the fretwork of Joe Walsh in tandem with Nashville’s always-dependable hired hand Steuart Smith was much appreciated. The Eagles were so good, in fact, that they managed to wipe away any lingering memory of the Dixie Chicks, who opened the night with a lengthy, self-absorbed set that was a whole lot of nothing. It probably shouldn’t have been surprising that singer Natalie Maines couldn’t bring herself to utter a word about the new theater they’d been invited to open, but it was. A prestigious gig in anybody’s book, but Maines acted like the night was nothing special, as if she was just shopping for linen at Bed, Bath & Beyond. No class. If you can snag some seats, do catch the Eagles, who return to the Nokia for five more shows over the next week or so. The Dixie Chicks, on the other hand, should be returned to the farm at the earliest opportunity. [email protected] (818) 713-3676160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m. Other things have changed, too. The audience at the Nokia was older and well-heeled, and they had to be in order to cough up the kind of cash the band was asking for tickets. It wasn’t a rowdy bunch. Although lines at the theater’s concession stands resembled the bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic getting down there, most were buying bottled water instead of booze, and the venue itself is proudly a no-smoking environment inside and out. There were some kinks to be ironed out by Nokia’s management, if they can. For one, there’s no place to mingle or just hang out in the multi-leveled lobby areas because those smallish spaces are so congested with masses of people waiting in slow-moving lines to buy water. The idea, apparently, is to get people to their seats, which is where they should probably remain, until they can get home and drink all the water they want. Parking, however, was a breeze. Once you got off the freeway (it took 1 1/2 hours to get from Sherman Oaks to 9th Street on Thursday), it was surprisingly smooth sailing all around Staples Center (even though there was a Clippers game happening at the same time) and there was an abundance of parking both on and off the site. Once inside and the music started, it became clear a lot of work went into the place. Along with a punchy sound design that made you not only feel the bass but allowed you to hear all the band’s dozen players (a horn section was added for a couple of numbers), the video screens offered well-directed close-ups of the soloists. Hate them if you must because they have more money than Jesus, Moses and Buddha combined, but there’s no denying the Eagles are a helluva live band – and the ideal way to test the waters at the opening night of downtown’s Nokia Theatre. The quintessential Los Angeles combo sounded simply great Thursday in the first demonstration of the Nokia’s sound and video design, and even those in the farthest seats were able to appreciate all that was happening on the venue’s big stage. The Eagles, of course, don’t hit bum notes and their polish, along with classy songs that retain their original strength, was a delight to behold in the 7,100-seat hall. Opening with four numbers from their forthcoming double album, the group led by Don Henley and Glenn Frey could do no wrong in a 20-song set that took in such peak moments as “Lyin’ Eyes,” “One of These Nights” and “Hotel California,” which was an awesome thing to behold, even for someone who has spent a lifetime switching the dashboard dial at the mere hint of the line, “On a dark desert highway…” Looking fit, if not particularly amused, Frey, Henley and the enigmatic Timothy B. Schmit delivered the million-dollar harmonies that decades ago helped lift the music industry into it’s most lucrative period. That was a long time ago; these days, the Eagles are putting out their self-produced new record on their own label.