Welcome to the Hotel Bell Center…
It took the entire show and practically Henley’s entire back catalog to arrive at Hotel California. Don’s and his former band – The Eagles, piece de la resistance ( music by Don Felder). Luckily for the punters, it was not the final nail in the coffin at Le Centre Bell. After all – ‘ you can check out any time you want but you can never leave …’
Such is the legacy of Henley’s and The Eagles’ very ‘Long Run’. They don’t write songs like these anymore and inevitably, tears may fall from the eyes of all those who attend Henley’s recent tour.
Sadness for Glen Frey’s death, sadness for The Eagles’ passing and definitive melancholy for the lack of ( general) songwriting skills in today’s music.
Ironically – it was a cover song which started the whole Bell Center crying in a very good way. Steve Young ‘s Seven Bridges Road set the table for the evening’s dinner. A perfect meal before Henley et al aired their ‘Dirty Laundry’. Arguably, the song which kinda, sorta, separated Henley from his Eagles’ roots and established Don as a bona fide solo artists in the … ahem … eighties. The crowd at The Bell Center (the majority over the age of forty) – huge fans of the eighties judging from the reaction to the second song of the evening.
As nostalgia kicked into full gear with ‘Witchy Woman’ – it was easy to tell Henley has equipped himself with a top notch backing band. The official fourteen member group instilled everything needed (and then some) within Henley’s set list. Henley himself, vocally – in vintage 1970’s form.
Sunset Grill , When I Stop Dreaming , New York Minute and Shangri-La, all songs compiling the efforts of backing vocals, violins, mandolins, synthesizers and guitars ( Henley with a Telecaster) into a potpourri of over five decades of Henley experience. Harking easily into the magic which took place between himself and his late songwriting partner, Glen Frey.
Bramble Rose ( Tift Merrick ) off Henley’s 2015 album ‘Cass County ‘ ( Henley’s first in fifteen years) – a lesson in harmonization as Henley dueled with his back – up female singers. That lovely trend carried throughout the evening with the entire band sounding tight within the harmonies. The stars were out and lighting the stage at the Bell Center. Very brightly …
It can be difficult at times to distinguish The Eagles and Henley’s solo efforts if not a huge fan of either. The Last Resort, a seldom played Eagles’ live tune, was one of those moments. Henley’s solo career; Eagle- esque to a tee. Vocals are a brand for any band and Henley ( the fourth richest singing drummer of all time ), left his brand firmly on The Eagles.
Train in the Distance, a Henley tune – gave insights into Henley the person in a rare glimpse of growing up in Gilmer, Texas. Henley, front and center and very lifelike (human), spun tales of placing pennies and nickels on railway tracks as a boy for no reason other than ‘ lack of anything else to do.’ Complete with train sound effects, that specific train was far away in the distance last night as Henley fast approaches the age of 70. Inflation affects pennies on tracks after all …
The End of The Innocence and The Boys of Summer, two massive hits for Henley (the solo artist) , were the bread for a meaty piece of fun. Sandwiched between the pair of mega hits was another mega hit. ‘ Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ . The smash hit from Tears for Fears, stunned and pleasured the Bell Center faithful. The song was a perfect wake up call within Henley’s mostly soft (Country – ish) song list. What Joe Walsh does with The Eagles, Tears for Fears did for Henley. Henley introduced the song as ‘ therapeutic’ following a brief summary of ‘ ‘ ‘ the circus ‘ that is – American politics.
Encore number one brought out the big guns.Life in the Fast Lane carried the satisfied and exuberant crowd( hitchhikers) right into the driveway of Hotel California. Both songs raising the baby boomers into an orgasmic state of bliss. For those in attendance never having the opportunity to witness The Eagles live – ecstatic to be sooo close … with Mr. Henley at the helm.
The second encore provided the ‘grab a box of Kleenex’ ( make that two ) moment of the show, Henley telling the crowd; ‘ this one is for Glen ( referring to recently deceased Glen Frey). Desperado, the first official tune written by Henley and Frey aimed at the heartstrings and connected on so many levels. The Grinch’s ( in attendance) hearts grew ten times last night.
Wasted Time was the final song of the evening in the third encore proving that on September 14th – time was not wasted by anyone.
Not by the punters, not by the band and not by Don Henley. It took the entire show, three encores and practically Henley’s entire back catalog to arrive at the fact that Henley is not finished the ride away from Hotel California.
Working Man Blues