It seems that not a lot of rockers make it to age 70 anymore, so when one does, they throw a party. When that rocker is one of the founding members of the biggest selling American band in history, special guests drop everything to show up. And, if you’re lucky enough to get tickets, you fill the venue with thousands of other loyal fans.
This triple threat occurred at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas as Don Henley of Eagles fame celebrated his 70th birthday with a sold-out show. The fans were the winners as they were treated to 23 songs and countless stories over almost three hours.
Fans trickled in as soon as the doors opened to get out of the oppressive Texas heat and filled all the seats before the beginning downbeat. A retrospective of events over the past seven decades played as the stage filled with Henley’s 12-piece band. The three lovely backup singers then sang “Big D, little A, double L, A, S” as Don made his way to the front of the stage. The adoring crowd cheered in anticipation of the night to come and for all the excellent music he has made in his illustrious career.
Everyone then lined up to sing the harmony for “Seven Bridges Road,” accompanied by acoustic guitar and drums. A song from Don’s solo career, “Dirty Laundry,” was impeccable. His voice was on point, the musicians were virtuosos and the dancing in the aisles made everything come together in a perfect moment in time.
Henley recounted a burger joint in Los Angeles and how the story unfolded into “Sunset Grill.” Lily Elise dazzled as she sang a duet with Don on the well-received “That Old Flame.” A livelier version of “Witchy Woman” was a toe-tapper that was highlighted by pedal steel player Mylo Deering and moved the loyal fans.
After “Talking To The Moon,” co-written by J.D. Souther, the crowd jumped for “One Of These Nights.” The harmony within the band was a key pert of this 1975 classic hit. Henley then introduced his first guest and played the drums as Timothy B. Schmit sang “I Can’t Tell You Why” that ended with a standing ovation.
Another solo hit, “End Of The Innocence” featured Tom Evans wailing on baritone sax. Naturally, the native Texan’s home-state fans knew every word and sang along. The deep cut “The Last Resort” caused Henley to tell the crowd to put down the cell phones and “Be here now.” The poignant lyrics and cohesive harmony was a highlight to fans as his band rarely played it in concert. The well-constructed song kept building on itself until it ended in a crescendo that left the crowd breathless.
This was a good time to introduce the 12-man band and three vocalists, which he said wasn’t profitable, but made it a lot of fun. Don then brought out Patty Smyth for their classic duet of “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.” Patty was still in great voice and her sparkly jacket only added to her still youthful appearance.
The audience sang the refrain of the popular “Heart Of The Matter,” a song about the difficult concept of forgiveness. The harmony in the band again showed a talent level that mesmerized everyone in attendance. The self-described therapeutic song by Tears For Fears, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” got the women dancing and their husbands to stand stoically beside them. A few males danced, albeit badly, and the feel-good song earned a huge ovation.
The audience went nuts when given clues hinting that Stevie Nicks was the next guest. Their voices mixed perfectly for the duet of “Leather And Lace,” written by Stevie when they were a couple, although she originally wrote it for Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter. The standing ovation it earned was in earnest for the two mainstays of bands that have combined for more than 300 million albums sold. Nicks stayed on stage as a backup singer and dancer for “Boys Of Summer.” Always one to put on a show, she made the jam session that finished the song just a little better.
Joe Walsh then came out and the audience went wild for “Rocky Mountain Way.” The jam that accompanied it was all-star caliber and the crowd couldn’t get enough of Joe and the band. Walsh and Schmit had a mind-numbing guitar face-off during “Life In The Fast Lane.” The sold-out venue hit a decibel level harmful to human ears as the fans sang and danced and embarrassed their children.
Henley moved back to the drums as the cheering got even louder for the first notes of “Hotel California.” The loyal fans sang every word and were mesmerized during the Walsh-Stewart Smith guitar solo that has been voted as the best guitar riff ever by many magazines.
Don then got poignant for a moment as he simply stated, “This is for Glenn,” and began a song they co-wrote, “Wasted Time.” It’s a deep cut to some, but true Eagles fans knew it well and appreciated the duet with Lara Johnston (daughter of Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers).
Reverence was the key word for another Henley-Frey song as the audience sang softly to accompany the tear-jerking “Desperado.” The feelings of recently losing Glenn and the appreciation for the two founders of the best selling American band created a special moment the fans in attendance will carry with them for life. There were a few tears in the crowd, but mostly looks of admiration and thanks for all these two men added to music and their lives over the years.
Stevie then came back out in flowing black robes for “All She Wants To Do Is Dance.” And dance she did, along with her usual tambourine-thumping flair. It spurred the dancers in the audience to move and groove, even the guys who danced like Lurch from The Addams Family.
Everyone came back out for the finale as thousands of balloons descended from the rafters as everyone sang the Beatles’ “Birthday.” The older people acted like three-year-olds as they swatted the balloons, although the expensive jewelry worn by patrons in the high-dollar seats popped a few of them.
After almost three hours of greatest hits and stories, it was over way too soon. Everyone had a wonderful time celebrating the occasion, especially the three ladies from East Texas I talked to before and after the show. They were thrilled and got the pleasure of the overall experience they had come to see.
Henley showed that age is just a number if you do what you love. When one reaches a milestone such as this and is already a living legend, it should be noted, appreciated and celebrated. Due to lifestyle, regrettable choices and other mitigating factors, the music world has lost too many talented members before they even come close to this occasion.
Henley has used his status and resources to help others along the way and continues to be a force in the musical industry. No one knows the future of the Eagles without Glenn, but they can still relive some of it, along with Don’s admirable solo work, whenever he tours. It’s a show not to be missed.
Joe Guzman of Infrared Magazine was on hand to capture the event.