Somewhere between 8 Tracks and cassette tapes, I was steadily growing my collection of vinyl LP’s. With my department store quality, multi-function, Emerson stereo system, not only could I enjoy the audio purity of a needle following the tracks of a spinning record, but the built-in cassette recorder gave me options for portability as needed. Being a relatively broke teenager, I had found myself drawn into the tempting trap of the RCA Record Club’s offer of six albums for a penny. One of those albums that came in my initial shipment was the Eagles Live double album. From the opening riff of “Hotel California” to the perfect harmonies of “Seven Bridges Road”, I quickly became a lifelong Eagles fan. Not only have I enjoyed the music of the band, but also the solo music of the band’s members.
This past weekend, Don Henley returned to the Rochester area for the first time in over fifteen years. I’ve seen him before, but wasn’t quite sure what to expect after last fall’s release of his country themed Cases County album. I had thoroughly enjoyed his latest work, but was definitely hoping to hear samples of his solo work and some Eagles classics.
With no lawn seats being sold, the event at the Marvin Sands Performing Arts center in Canandaigua, NY was a bit more intimate than most I have attended there. The audience was clearly made up of fans that were likely fans in the early days of the Eagles. Promptly at 7:30 PM, Henley and his large ensemble of musicians took the stage, arranged themselves in a choral style around the stage mics, and kicked off an acapella rendition of “Seven Bridges Road”; and it was musical perfection. From there, things picked up as the band kicked off the familiar intro to “Dirty Laundry”. I found it rather comical that a local TV News personality walked in during that song. Throughout the night, Henley continued to mix in hits from not only the Eagles, but from his new album.
Henley’s band was unbelievable. With nearly every musician providing some form of backing vocals, there were three girls that covered the bulk of the backing vocals and also took turns covering the duets from Cass County. A full horn section took the stage for “Sunset Grill” and continued to amaze for the rest of the night. Eagles hits included, “Witchy Woman”, “Life in the Fast Lane”, and “One of These Nights” which proved that Henley’s falsetto range is alive and well. He shared an entertaining back story to “Providence” that gave new life to familiar lyrics.
He performed favorites from his solo career like “New York Minute”, “All She Wants to Do is Dance”, and “End of the Innocence”. Cass County additions included “Bramble Rose”, “That Old Flame”, and “Train in the Distance”. He even performed an energetic cover of Tears For Fears hit, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. The crowd went crazy as the stage tech brought out the familiar double necked guitar, letting everybody know it was time for “Hotel California”…and it was good, very good.
Henley and his band played for two and a half hours, including two encores. It was a hot summer night of great music that took us on a musical journey covering five decades of hits from the songbooks of the Eagles and Henley’s solo career. The night ended with another choral style arrangement. This time it was “Desperado”, a tribute to Glenn Frey. …and once again, it was perfection.