Don Henley Launches First Solo Tour In A Decade

Former Eagles singer/drummer plays to baby boomer-heavy crowd.

HOLMDEL, N.J. — Former

COLOR="#003163">Eagles singer/drummer

COLOR="#003163">Don Henley hasn't been on the road as a solo

act in more than a decade.

But Henley showed no signs of being out of practice at the PNC Bank Arts

Center on Friday night. The show was one of the first of a tour to

promote his new LP, Inside Job.

With his soulful, assured singing on hits such as "The Heart of the

Matter," it was apparent that Henley's voice has grown stronger with

age.

"He's the best performer I've ever heard," said Barbara Wagner, a

37-year-old Old Bridge, N.J., resident. "I think he's an intense

perfectionist."

Henley certainly showed attention to detail in his selection of

accompanists. In addition to the three guitarists, two keyboardists and

two percussionists on every song, he periodically brought a Camden,

N.J., choir, a string section, a brass section, a bagpipe player, a

fiddler and a pennywhistler onto the stage.

The band faithfully recreated classics such as the title cut to Henley's

previous LP, 1989's The End of the Innocence, and obscure tracks

such as the Celtic-tinged "Lilah," from his first solo album, I Can't

Stand Still (1982).

The baby boomer-heavy crowd applauded loudly for the older songs and

politely for the new ones. Henley sings of newfound domestic bliss on

most of his new LP, including his latest single, "Taking You Home"

(RealAudio excerpt). But what he chose to display most at the show

were Inside Job's crankier numbers, such as "Nobody Else in the

World But You," on which he attacks an acquaintance's selfishness. On

"Workin' It," Henley casts his infamously critical eye on the planet's

most conspicuous consumers — Americans. "We got the little black

car, the little black dress/ Got the guru, the trainer, the full-court

press/ We got the software, hard drive, CD-ROM/ We got the

exploitation.com."

Henley introduced the extraterrestrially themed "They're Not Here,

They're Not Coming" with a monologue about the alleged alien landing in

Roswell, N.M., in 1947, the year the musician was born. Before

concluding the tale by telling the audience, "We are alone, get used to

it," he took time out to address a heckler who had commented on Henley's

age. "I can kick your ass," the singer replied.

Henley met with mixed results when he attempted to render updated

versions of a few Eagles classics. He adopted a rap star's mannerisms

and used a sampler for a clever hip-hop version of "Life in the Fast

Lane" that he called "Fun With the '70s."

But a ska-flavored "Hotel California," complete with four trombonists,

was directionless and diluted the original track's twisty exoticism.

During the encore section of the concert, Henley brought out the strings

for Hotel California's sad ballad "Wasted Time." He also enlisted

bagpipe player Jerry O'Sullivan for

a beautiful take on Mark Knopfler's

"A Night in Summer Long Ago," from the Dire

Straits leader's 1996 solo effort, Golden Heart.

Henley ended the night with an audience-silencing rendition of the

Eagles' classic "Desperado" (

HREF="http://www.sonicnet.com/artists/aiclip.cgi?track=%7Epp-XXXXXX%2F01

40443_0105_00_0002.ra">RealAudio excerpt), after telling the

crowd, "We had a wonderful time at your party."

"I love the way [Henley] puts all the instruments together," said Sharon

Butler, 39, of Highlands, N.J. "And what a voice."