Plenty of people are likely already enraged by that headline, so I feel like I have some preambling to do.
The Eagles were one of the first bands I remember listening to, the first band me and my dad were both fans of, I like the Eagles, and I will admit that aside from a few radio hits — Dirty Laundry, New York Minute, Boys of Summer, etc. — I’m not too familiar with his solo work.
Henley himself cracked wise saying he was going to play some solo work, songs off his latest album, Cass County, which “not enough of you bought,” he noted cheekily, then he slyly mentioned “some Eagles songs,” and the crowd roared.
That summed up the show from my perspective. It’s a hurdle those part of a bigger act who go solo have to get over when they play a concert, striking a balance between what they are doing now, and the music that got them there.
The packed South Okanagan Events Centre seemed on board throughout, so maybe I am the minority here, but after a excellent kick off with a beautiful harmony by the group of 10 or so extremely talented musicians singing Seven Bridges Road, seguing into the highly energetic and dazzling rendition of Dirty Laundry, the show dropped off a bit from there.
The songs from Cass County aren’t bad, its great music, but the setlist definitely dipped, again I feel I have to reiterate that I’m not well-versed in his post-Eagles work. It felt somewhat like a country music show shoehorned into the Eagles’ greatest hits. Nothing wrong with that, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling it was slightly disjointed.
A more objective observation lies in the pacing of the show. I like a nice, relaxing ballad just as much as the next guy, but from my count there were at least three or four in a row which brought the pace down considerably before ramping back up in the second half.
Now, as I prepare my inbox for the inevitable hatemail for saying anything less than positive about a former Eagle, to the positives.
The hits, One of These Nights, Hotel California (or as Henley referred to it before eschewing his show-long cell phone ban “that song.”) and the like were amazing. An awesome spectacle to behold and to see a man with such an influence on popular music throughout the years performing them live is definitely a memory to hold on to.
Henley seems to be a perfectionist, almost to a fault (those ready to write angry letters, I said “almost”).
Again, this is a personal preference, but my favourite part about live shows is the little improvisational extras you get, whether it be an extended guitar solo, or a slightly different version of a song — something you’re not going to see or hear anywhere else again.
This was almost entirely missing from the performance, which for better or worse, is a testament to the skill of the very, very talented musicians Henley brought along.
You would be hard pressed to find even the slightest variation from the studio version, whether it was Henley’s own work, the Eagles or a cover. That’s not easy to do. Either way, I know my dad is jealous I got to see Henley, and at the end of the day that’s what matters.
Dale Boyd is the arts and entertainment editor at the Penticton Western News.