My dad was a big Eagles and Don Henley fan, and he passed his love of both onto me early on by spinning hot stacks of wax on the weekends. He has since passed on, and I could not think of a better concert to attend on Father’s Day than Don Henley performing songs spanning his 40+ year history.
The opening act on this leg of Don Henley’s tour was JD & The Straight Shot out of New York. James Dolan; owner of the New York Knicks and Executive Chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company and MSG Networks; headed up a talented group of musicians through a set of original bluesy country songs and a few covers as well.
A few songs into the eight-song set, James introduced the guitar player Marc Copely, then asked him to introduce the rest of the band while he stepped off stage and conducted a “slight persona change” which consisted of the addition of glasses, a scarf a top hat and a little more of his campy southern accent. He then used his new ensemble to introduce their 2015 album’s title track “Ballyhoo!” to a pretty bewildered, silent, yet polite audience. After this change, Dolan appeared to become more comfortable.
When you get down to it, Mr. Dolan just did not connect with the audience. The southern gentleman persona, going into the Ballyhoo get-up just didn’t work on the people waiting to see Don Henley and take in the classics they already knew by heart.
The lights dropped in the Xcel, and spotlights began to show one antique radio at a time, each one playing a classic song from the past or a snippet of a historical speech from the past 60-70 years. After a few minutes, the show kicked off with “Seven Bridges Road”, a wonderful a cappella rendition performed under very simple lighting.
“We’re going to play music spanning 42 years, because we can.” stated Henley, jokingly saying that they were staying away from new material. “We’re going to have fun tonight because the world has gone batshit crazy”.
His voice with more gavel than the past, he worked his way through hit after hit until his voice began to strain quite a lot during “New York Minute”. To the point where the couple behind me let out a very low “oh no…”. Thankfully, his voice did become much stronger as the night went on.
Henley told a great story of how The Eagles’ song “The Last Resort” came to be. It’s worth your time to look it up on-line, and then listen to the song. he also remarked “We didn’t do this song a lot back then, it required a lot of personnel, I have that personnel now…”. Indeed, the band he travels with on this tour is quite massive, anywhere from 10-17 people on stage at one time. On touring with so many people, “It’s not very profitable, but it sure is fun!”.
Near the end of the first set, they covered the Tears for Fears classic “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, which they play as a form of band therapy, to get back on track and have fun. This was a surprise in the set and really got people on their feet, leading into the two encores.
The night was closed out by the classics “Wasted Time”, “Desperado” and “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”.
JD & The Straight Shot Set List:
Redemption Train (New Song)
Nature’s Way (Spirit cover)
Better Find A Church
Let It Roll (Little Feet cover)
Don Henley’s Set List:
Seven Bridges Road (Steve Young cover)
That Old Flame
When I Stop Dreaming (The Louvin Brothers cover)
New York Minute
One of These Nights
It Don’t Matter to the Sun (Garth Brooks cover)
Peaceful Easy Feeling (Dedicated to Glenn Frey)
The End of the Innocence
The Last Resort
The Heart of the Matter
Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears cover)
The Boys of Summer
Life in the Fast Lane
All She Wants to Do Is Dance