LIVE: DON HENLEY with Jewel, Perth, 5 March, 2017
Kings Park Botanic Gardens, Perth, Western Australia
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Jesse Michael Liam Chance
It’s another smoking hot Perth day, and another night of classic music in one of the best venues on the planet: Kings Park Botanic Gardens. Boasting perfectly pristine surroundings, a clear canopy of stars and some of the finest sound anywhere, it really is tough to beat.
The entertainment starts early with Melody Pool, whose cello and violin accompaniment set a melancholic tone somewhat at odds with the beautiful, hot and sunny day. Black Dog stood out, and seemed fitting, considering the cello often brings to mind dark and gloomy overtones.
Alaskan songstress Jewel is next: just her and an acoustic guitar, she strikes a solitary pose, but her crystal voice has no problem slicing through the humid Perth night. Whether you’re a fan of her wistful dream-folk or not, no-one can deny the power and clarity of her impressive vocals. My Father’s Daughter is a touching homage to her Dad and Grandmother, both of whom sacrificed their own careers for family; You Were Meant For Me another tender moment. The crowd sit in respectful silence for the most part – barely even singing along, they save their voices and applause for between songs, except when she finishes her set with an acapella version of the traditional Chime Bells, taught to her by her father when she was 5, complete with lightning fast yodelling.
By this point we’ve thought, this is all well and good musically, but let’s start the party! Former Eagle Don Henley has ten of his sixteen bandmates gathered in a semi-circle for a mostly vocal take on Seven Bridges Road to open his set like his former band used to, and from the outset he’s in a jocular mood. “So this is autumn?” he quips, wiping sweat from his brow, “ahh well, rock n’ roll is supposed to be sweaty!”
It gets our hopes up, but the atmosphere remains fairly subdued for a while yet. His band are razor sharp – too sharp, perhaps. Musically they are spot on but there’s little passion to be heard until the end of the set.
A duet with one of his three backing singers on That Old Flame – from last year’s Cass County album – is a countryfied delight; but it’s The Eagles songs that most in the crowd have come for, and Witchy Woman, One Of These Nights, New York Minute and Shangri-La are all well-received, if plainly played and… well… sad to say, a little dull. The Eagles perfected the laid back West Coast sound, but there was something lacking here tonight.
The End Of The Innocence sees the crowd lively itself up a little, but there’s still little dancing or singing until a random cover – Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World – finally breaks the ice. Tellingly the crowd start to party, at last – and this is a song he admits he neither wrote nor recorded! Henley’s biggest solo hit, Boys Of Summer keeps the good time vibe rolling, until two encores of Eagles tracks: Life In The Fast Lane and Hotel California’s classic twin guitar solo; and Wasted Time and Desperado.
It’s great to spend time in the company of such a legendary musician, but even the banter between the crowd as we make our way back to our cars is one of mild disappointment. Some blamed the heat, and some the lack of integration between Henley’s old and newer material, but if anything, it sounded to us like his band were just TOO over-rehearsed and going through the motions.
Don Henley Set List:
Seven Bridges Road
That Old Flame
When I Stop Dreaming
One of These Nights
New York Minute
It Don’t Matter to the Sun
The End of the Innocence
The Last Resort
The Heart of the Matter
Everybody Wants to Rule the World
The Boys of Summer
Life in the Fast Lane
Filed Under: Live Reviews
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