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Live Review and Gallery: Don Henley @ The Chicago Theatre

| November 9, 2015

Don Henley 1

Don Henley
Chicago Theatre, Chicago
Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thus far this century, Don Henley has stayed pretty busy with Eagles tours and the group’s occasional recordings, but when it comes to his solo career, the new Cass County (Past Masters Holdings/Capitol Records) marks his first proper project in 15 years. In spite of the lengthy gap, the sophisticated singer/songwriter landed right at the top of Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and #3 for Top Album Sales overall, plus sold out the Chicago Theatre, which turned out to be an ideal setting for the more intimate and introspective nature of this material (as opposed to an Eagles-sized arena or stadium).

Surprisingly, representations from that band ended after the harmony-laden opener “Seven Bridges Road” (technically a Steve Young song, but also a staple of 1980’s Eagles Live initial swansong), though considering his bounty of current material and previous list of monster hits, the brave decision was spot on. Over the course of a generous two hours and forty minutes, the smooth singing/sometimes guitar playing Henley, a seven piece core band, three background singers and brass section switched between southern styled newcomers (“Praying For Rain,” “Take A Picture Of This,” “Words Can Break Your Heart”) with thought-provoking acoustic pop from yesterday (“New York Minute,” “The Last Worthless Evening,” “The Heart Of The Matter”).

Regardless of the time frame those tunes were originally recorded, the headliner and his always dependable helpers unified the material with a rootsy vibe that that left additional room to display Henley’s gifts as a lyricist. And even at 68, he refused to go through the motions on stage or in the studio, tapping back into an era of straight-up country on the current collection (complete with guests Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert and even Mick Jagger, amongst others), strained of any glossy pop, rap or bros with backwards baseball caps.

With additional dabblings in jazz, blues and Americana, this tour definitely painted with the broadest brushstrokes of any other in Henley’s history, though he also made sure his primary ‘80s rockers didn’t go unnoticed. The tabloid diss “Dirty Laundry” proved just as socially relevant these days, an unexpected remake of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” fit right in, while “The Boys Of Summer” and “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” finally coaxed the mostly seated crowd to their feet. Combine them all with almost the entire Cass County collection, and for the first time in a long time, Henley appeared just as at peace with his past as he was raring to go for the next round.

-Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis


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Category: Featured, Live Reviews, Stage Buzz, Weekly

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  1. CherylB. says:

    The “mostly seated” crowd remained that way mostly due to the ushers admonishing those that did stand! But, once the entire floor was on their feet, there was nothing they could do! Wonderful show!

  2. MPD says:

    Loved the show, but the ridiculousness of no photos, despite his new song, “Take a Picture of This”, left it feeling a bit unfriendly. Even the Rolling Stones didn’t have a no photo policy. I can’t think of a show that I’ve been to recently that did. It made the militant-like ushers a big distraction. Lighten up, Don – We just want to take a picture of this.

  3. Enjoying a concert that costs one a good amount of money should also allow one the privilege to sit and enjoy it without being forced by crowd mania or whatever. Take a picture in your mind. It’s OK to be cool and sit and…as Don Henley himself says it…’be in the moment’ without all the need to do stuff like take pics and videos that we all got used to not needing for a long time years ago.

  4. Travis says:

    After paying $150.00 + fees for each ticket, Don Henley decided to sing 75%-80% of his new “country” songs with only a handful of songs that made him Don Henley.
    I have always said that Don Henley “is the man”, but last night was disappointing. Mr. Henley sang what HE WANTED to sing, not what the people paid good money to hear. Mr. Henley, if you are going to refuse to sing the songs that made you who you are, you should advise potential audience members that you are singing 80% of your new country songs so they can make up their mind whether they want to pay to hear your new country or not. I was bored to death and felt that it was a “bait and switch” concert. I would have never paid $600.00+ for tickets if I knew that you were going to sing country all night. You should have disclosed that. I don’t even like country music but you made sure that I paid a ton of money for it anyway.

  5. Shana says:

    This was great show, due in part to the strict no pictures/no recording rule by Henley. It was refreshing to watch a live show live, without the glow of a thousand little screens bouncing around in front of me. Bravo to Henley for requesting this; Bravo to the Chicago Theater for enforcing it!

  6. Joey says:

    If I would have known that there were to be no photos/videos taken at the show, I would have never purchased tickets. Perhaps they should warn people people when tickets were sold. I found the sitting down and no photos completely boring. Most artists want you to take video to promote them for future show. They only cheers I give was the fact we heard no Eagle’s songs like and heard forgotten 80’s hits like Shangri-La and How Bad Do You Want It?

    Don’t think I’ll be seeing Don Henley any time soon….

  7. Alec says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Quite frankly I’m glad Henley imposed those rules, because I wasn’t looking forward to spending three hours looking at someone’s arm or butt as they danced in front of me or videotaped and took selfies all night long. Are you going to the show to see/hear folks sing or take photos and dance badly for hours at a time? You can stay home and do that.

    BTW, Henley is touring in support of a new album, Cass County; hence the name Cass County Tour 2015. I expected him to cover songs from the new release, as well as a few of his older songs, so I was good. I usually don’t make a habit of attending shows to see people I don’t care for or to hear music I don’t really like, so I was okay with spending the money to hear Henley’s old and NEW songs, because I really like Don Henley AND his new music. Do a little homework people before you spend the money. That’s my advice.