Don Henley rocked a jam-packed Marquee, and charmed into submission an audience that started the night a bit chatty.
“Good evening, me darlings,” he said in a friendly Irish accent. “It’s so good to be here in Cork, such a beautiful, beautiful place.”
He then explained he’d be doing a lot of songs from his new album, Cass County, his home town in Texas.
“There are 13 Cass Counties in the States. My one is in Texas.”
This audience loved him, obeyed him, worshipped him. There’s no doubting Don Henley’s legendary status, which commands the kind of respectful hush rarely afforded in rock venues. What is it he brings? Is it a legacy of being the main surviving Eagle?
Perhaps, but this tour features only a smattering of Eagles hits.
Most likely, it’s the fact that at 68 he’s still putting out great new material rather than just cashing in on his globally loved back catalogue of ‘70s and ‘80s hits.
A cabaret night of hits this was definitely not. It was a night in which a living legend won many new fans for his great new songs.
And with some timely Blarney about Brexit thrown in for the craic: “Crazy stuff going on there in the UK. Here’s a song about that.” New York Minute.
And you’d have to admire his professionalism. On at 8:30 on the nose, as pre-announced. And not one wasted second in the show.
Henley was surprised by the roars of applause for his song introductions. “Thanks, that’s far more applause than we get back home,” he said. Another roar, so he keeps chatting. If his voice has aged fairly well, you’d have to say his patter has improved exponentially.
People even applauded his warning on turning off mobile phones.
Personally, I’d have paid the money just for guitarists Chris Holt and Steuart Smith, who are magicians in this mode. And I think the new harmony-laden country songs works really well live.
New duets like Words Can Break Your Heart, That Old Flame and When I Stop Dreaming are as every bit as strong as his classic hits. His touring backing singers Lily Elise, Laura Johnston and Erica Swindell are more than adequate stand-ins for the likes of Dolly Parton, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss and Vince Gill who feature on the album.
The tone for an evening of gentrified, countrified harmonies was set early doors with this group’s excellent new take on Seven Bridges Road, a Steve Young classic that was always a favourite with Eagles fans.
There are ripples of approval for Henley’s mid-career hits like The Boys of Summer, and The Heart of The Matter.
And, of course, the ripples turn to roars for The Last Resort, One of These Nights and Desperado.
No 1 highlight? Either Hotel California or just the unexpected charming Blarney. Ripping show, pumped with energy. Whatever else, he can’t be accused of taking it easy.
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