Don Henley went on tour in the year 2000 to promote Inside Job, his first studio release in more than 10 years. An attempt to do an advance story to promote his Philadelphia appearance at the Tower Theater in June failed, due to schedule conflicts, so his publicist asked if I could write a concert review instead. The first story is that concert review.
In early 2001, Henley went out on the road again for a short time and included a date in Atlantic City. This time, an attempt to get an interview was so successful that his publicist called and gave me about 15 minutes notice to expect a phone call from Henley.
Without any time to conduct any research, I merely engaged Don in conversation about his previous tour, including his Philadelphia show. Rather than a normal advance story, the second article is more of a discussion with Don, who was kind enough to invite me to meet him after the Atlantic City show.
There is a link below with some photos.
Said a 20-something man to his date as they left Upper Darby's Tower Theater Saturday night, "He put on a heckuva show for an oldies act."
The young fellow is a little misinformed. Although Don Henley has been in the music business for more than 30 years and will celebrate his 53rd birthday on July 22, the former drummer/guitarist for the Eagles is as contemporary as any other act.
Philadelphia was the sixth stop on a two-month tour that includes 31 dates before it wraps up in Portland, Ore., on July 23. If every gig is similar to the one at the Tower, Henley will be one exhausted man by the time the tour ends. He did 22 songs in a two-hour, 40-minute show that covered his extensive career from beginning to end.
On the road for the first time since the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over reunion tour in 1994-95, Henley is promoting Inside Job, his first studio release since 1989's The End of the Innocence. It's also his first solo tour in about eight years.
Fans have been waiting a long time to see him, and Henley wasted no time giving them what they wanted. There was no opening act, so the headliner took the stage at 8:20 p.m. and immediately broke into Dirty Laundry, the hit single from his first solo album, I Can't Stand Still.
Of immediate note were the size of his band and the set design, which could have been either a medieval castle or a church, complete with stonewall backdrops and stained-glass windows before a curtain that was either purple or red, depending on the lighting.
Henley apparently spared no expense in hiring musicians. When the show began, he was backed up by two guitars, a bass, two sets of keyboards including a baby grand piano, two drum sets one of which was an array of bongo drums and cymbals and a seven-piece horn section. Before the night was over, a 12-voice choir took the stage to provide backup for a few songs, as did a string quartet and a pair of guys playing traditional instruments for the Irish songs played during the encores.
Also of note was Henley's voice. Though he always sounded a little raspy, even strained, on some of his records, his voice was clear and strong on Saturday. The man can sing.
When a band takes to the road to plug new material, there's always that awkward part of the show when the audience is hearing something new and listeners aren't quite sure if they like it. That wasn't the case on Saturday.
Henley was an integral part of the Eagles, who won four Grammy awards and sold 100 million albums during their initial 10-year run, and he has two more Grammys to show for his three successful solo LPs. Thus, he has nothing more to prove, nor does he need to bow to pressure from music industry executives to put out more product.
Inside Job was recorded over the last couple of years, and the time and effort show. The new material is just as strong as Henley's previous work. Included in Saturday's concert were Goodbye to a River, with the above-mentioned strings, Working It and They're Not Here, They're Not Coming, a tribute of sorts to Dr. Carl Sagan, the late astronomer.
He also did his solo hits, including The End of the Innocence, The Boys of Summer, Heart of the Matter and All She Wants to Do Is Dance.
Missing from the first set were the Eagles' songs. Henley saved them for last. He began his first three-song encore with The Long Run and ended it with an interesting rendition of Hotel California.
Of the latter tune, everybody knows the original record frontward and backward, and the live acoustic version has been getting a lot of air play in the last few years. On Saturday, though, Henley unveiled a new samba/reggae Hotel, and the distinctive guitar riffs were replaced by trombones played by four Blues Brothers-types dressed in dark suits, sunglasses and skull caps.
The guitarists finally concluded the song with a dual lead, and the crowd went delirious as Henley marched off the stage in unison with the trombone players. He returned for another encore that included the ballads Wasted Time and Desperado.
Those who missed the show can catch Henley tonight on Late Night with David Letterman and Friday on The Today Show. For serious fans, he will be at the Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan on Thursday. If you can get tickets, it will be well worth the trip to New York.
After a three-month hiatus, Don Henley is going back on the road to continue to promote Inside Job a tour that will bring him to the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City on Saturday, Feb. 24. The former drummer/guitarist for the Eagles spent five months touring last year after releasing his first solo album since 1989's The End of the Innocence.
"I don't think we missed too many places," Henley said in a telephone interview. "We started in late May, and I toured through the summer and into October. Then I took some time off to spend the holidays with my family. Now we're cranking it up again. We have about twelve or thirteen dates lined up. I'm not sure if we'll do anymore after that. We're going to see how the album is doing at that point and see where we stand."
Henley might have some more hardware to cart around with him by then. He has been nominated for three Grammy awards, including Best Male Pop Vocal for Taking You Home. Inside Job also is in contention in two categories. (The awards will be presented on Feb. 21.) The album has gone platinum, with more than 1 million units sold, and has cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard charts.
"I'm very happy with all of that, but I'm measuring it against my last album, which sold five million, so I'm only one-fifth of the way there," Henley said.
The rock star brought down a packed house on June 3 at the Tower Theater with a 22-song set that stretched for more than two hours, 40 minutes.
"That was a good night," he recalled. "I was a little ragged by the end of the summer, especially after doing twenty-two songs a night, but I've had a lot of songs over a period of thirty years, and the fans want me to do them."
The Inside Job tour began in Dallas with an appearance on Live By Request on the A&E television network.
"That show traditionally has a host, but I decided to host it myself," said Henley. "They'd never done that before, and I don't know if I made the right decision on that or not.
"It was a little weird standing up onstage and taking phone calls, but everybody was complimentary. The show did well and got pretty high (ratings). Television is always hard because it doesn't lend itself to spontaneity. I prefer to do live shows."
And Philadelphia fans got the best of the deal because the Tower date was one of the first in Henley's five-month odyssey. He spared no expense in treating his local fans. The musician was backed by a five-piece rock band, a seven-piece horn section, a 12-voice choir and a string quartet. And his voice was in fine form. The grueling schedule took its toll, however, and the expense of traveling with such a large entourage eventually caught up to Henley.
"My manager finally called me and said, 'You're out of your mind! You're not even breaking even!'" said the musician, who will have a smaller ensemble with him this time.
He'll also be visiting our area in the early stages of this tour, so his voice will be in good shape.
"(Last summer's tour) was hard because we did a great deal of it in buses, and I have a hard time sleeping on a bus, so that can wear you down," he said. "And after I've been on the road for three weeks, my voice gets hoarse and I can't sing some of my songs.
"It got to me after a while. September and October were really difficult, and I did a few bad shows. My voice just wasn't there. There's really nothing that you can do about that except rest it. I've tried everything in the book."
This leg of the tour begins on Feb. 21 in Atlanta, followed by a show in Richmond, Va., on Feb. 22. After Atlantic City, Henley heads to Newark, N.J., (Feb. 24), Pittsburgh (Feb. 27) and Penn State University (Feb. 28). The last scheduled date, thus far, is in Grand Rapids, Mich., on March 6. There could be other concert dates and some television appearances.
"We're lining up some (television dates), but I'm not sure about all of them," Henley said. "I'm doing Saturday Night Live on March 10, and there's talk about (The Late Show with David) Letterman, but I'm not sure if we got that one nailed down yet. And we're negotiating with Austin City Limits and trying to work something out with them."
In short, there are ample opportunities for fans to see Henley. For those who prefer the comfort of their own homes, the Live By Request concert from A&E has been released on DVD. And for Eagles' fans, there's another iron in the fire.
"The Eagles and I are doing a benefit in Dallas on April 21 for the multiple sclerosis foundation," Henley said, "but that's not part of my tour."
For those who wonder how a 53-year-old can keep up the schedule of a man half his age, rest assured that this show-business veteran has acquired the tricks of the trade necessary to keep his stamina.
"It's hard, but I work out a lot," Henley said. "I do thirty minutes of aerobics before I go onstage, and then I take a cold shower and go out and do the show. It's a great way to lose weight."
Visit Don Henley's Web site.