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REVIEW: DON HENLEY. ROD LAVER ARENA MELBOURNE

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Jewel / Don Henley. Rod Laver Arena. 8th March 2017
Report and photos by Jason Rosewarne

With the death of Glenn Frey last year, it was thought that individual Eagles members touring was probably as close as you’d ever get to experiencing those classic songs  played live and authentically again. However recent reports have claimed that the remaining Eagles will perform gigs in the US with Fleetwood Mac later in the year. Still, with Glenn’s death fresh in our hearts, this Don Henley show was always going to be one for the fans to savour.

jewel1The stage set was simple, with 40 or so vintage radios hanging from the rigging above, which were used to introduce the Don Henley set later in the evening. Support act Jewel walked on stage to appreciative applause and began singing an a cappella version of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’. With just a single stationery light shining down from above, she hit every note perfectly, setting a quality tone for the remainder of her set.

Jewel invited the crowd to request tunes and consequently, one of her biggest hits ‘Hands’ followed. Next up ‘A Boy Needs A Bike’ from her latest album ‘Picking Up The Pieces’, joined half way through the performance by her five year old son Kase to sing a duet with his Mum. Jewel delivered a selection of new and old songs, finishing her night with another hit, ‘Who Will Save Your Soul’.

The stage was set for Don and the vintage radios hanging above came to life one at a time, each playing a 20 or so second grab of a classic American tune. Out of the darkness came a line of singers around various microphones to open Henley’s set with ‘Seven Bridges’ sung a cappella with Don standing front and centre.

Don acknowledged the fact that he was back at Rod Laver Arena and that yesterday was his Mum and Stepfathers 50th wedding anniversary, both huge Rod Laver tennis fans apparently. The 15 piece band worked through a collection of Don’s solo works and mixed in a good number of Eagles songs that pleased everyone. He stated that he was going to play around a 4 to 1 mix, four songs for the audience to one song that he just loved and wanted to play for himself … fair enough! After a note perfect version of ‘Witchy Woman’ early in his set, Henley announced that tonight was about having fun as the world had gone “Batshit Crazy”, taking a soft swipe at the current state of US politics. Henley’s voice sounded as strong as ever. He was supported by a large band featuring 3 backing vocalists. Erica Swindell sang ‘When I Stop Dreaming’ from ‘Cass County’, playing the part of Dolly Parton (who sang with Don on the album version).

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Henley announced that the next song wasn’t one that they he had written or recorded, just a song that he really liked from a duo from the UK. They proceeded to play a joyous version of ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’, maybe another message from him about the current leader? ‘The Boys of Summer’ followed, one of his biggest hits, signaling the end of the main set.

The band reappeared for an encore and hopped straight into ‘Fastlane’, which fired everyone up a notch. If they weren’t blissed out then, they sure were with ‘Hotel California’, which highlighted some delicate guitar work by the two lead guitarists, blending their tones beautifully.

Don dedicated the final encore to his late mate and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey by playing two of the songs that they had written together, ‘Wasted Time’ and ‘Desperado’. The night ended on another high with ‘All She Wants To Do Is Dance’.

Set List

Seven Bridges
Dirty Laundry
That Old Flame
Sunset Grill
Witchy Woman
When I Stop Dreaming
One Of These Nights
New York Minute
Shangri-La
It Don’t Matter To The Sun
End Of The Innocence
The Last Resort
Heart Of The Matter
Everybody Wants to Rule The World
Boys Of Summer

Encore 1
Life in the Fastlane
Hotel California

Encore 2
Wasted Time
Desperado
All She Wants To Do Is Dance

More of Jason’s shots from the night:

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