Walking into the Marquee on a glorious Wednesday evening, we are met with signs and warnings from security that under no circumstances would photography or mobile phones be tolerated. My initial thoughts are that Henley may becoming a cantankerous old man; however, it’s obvious from the beginning that what he’s hoping to achieve with this performance is perfection.
The night opens with a beautiful rendition of ‘Seven Bridges Road’, five-piece harmonies carry from the semi-circle of performers on stage through to the back of the packed Marquee and not a sound other than those five on stage are heard. Although an old staple of Eagles’ live performances, Henley makes it known that we’ll hear a lot of his latest record throughout the show.
Many herald Don as one of the most influential songwriters of the last few decades and considering ‘Cass County’ launched at #1 last year, that may still be true. Even before he picked up a pair of drumsticks or plectrum, there was a pen in hand. His songs charged with a rawness that expose vulnerabilities, personified by the characters he creates in each song.
Not holding our breath for any more Eagles songs for a while, Henley introduces us to a couple of his new offerings. Songs like ‘That Old Flame’ chug along like a train in the desert although ‘Words Can Break Your Heart’ is a particular highlight. With all the stalwarts of the genre, the entire album was equally an opportunity to compose than just write. The swell of a lap steel guitar, accompanied by the fawning female vocal accompaniments make for some pretty moving music; and his backup singers tonight do well to make up for the likes of Dolly Parton who appeared on the recent album. It’s the perfect venue when you think about it, how many cliche’d movies have you seen where a folk band play songs that the crowd all waltz to in a tent?
It’s not long before some old classics of his own solo career rear up and the atmospheric and anthemic, ‘New York Minute’ is performed to near perfection. Slow set ‘The End of The Innocence’ is matched well but probably the most energetic performance comes with ‘Dirty Laundry’ from his first debut album after splitting from Eagles.
A surprising cover of the Tears For Fears classic ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ segues Henley perfectly into the final segment of his show – the most successful set of songs he has written are introduced one after the other. Some need no introduction, the riff of ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ is enough to induce a frenzy among the audience. And from one to another, Henley lays out the Eagles classics – ‘The Last Resort’, ‘Hotel California’ and a firm favourite, ‘One Of These Nights’, before finishing on ‘Desperado’.
It’s probably one of the highlights of our entire Marquee season and it’s still not over; we doubt Little Mix or Ollie Murs will contend but Pixies may have a few fighting words for Henley when they close the summer festival in a few weeks.