HOLMDEL, N.J. Former
COLOR="#003163">Eagles COLOR="#003163">Don Henley
COLOR="#003163">Don Henleyhasn'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
"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
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
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
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."