Don Henley Gives Toronto A Night That Won’t Be Forgotten

Concert Review
Don Henley
JD & The Straight Shot
Budweiser Stage
Toronto, Ontario
Tuesday June 13, 2017
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto

Don Henley and his solo band returned to Toronto at the Budweiser Stage (formerly Molson Amphitheatre) Tuesday night to a small but boisterous crowd. Henley still touring in support of his latest album Cass County, played a 125-minute set that left everyone wanting more. Unlike his previous visit to The Sony Centre in 2015, Henley mixed in a fair amount of Eagles songs much to the delight of his fans.

Henley and his band came out together and began with the harmonious “Seven Bridges Road”, a song the Eagles used to warm up their voices with before taking the stage. Next, “Dirty Laundry” really brought things up a notch. Despite all of Henley’s mega solo hits, that one still remains his highest charting single at #3 on the Billboard singles charts.

“That Old Flame” was the first song he played from Cass County as he went on to explain it was about doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, “insanity” he called it. “Witchy Woman” was given a fresh coat of paint via a new arrangement that suited it well.

Among the many highlights were “One Of These Nights”, a tribute to his comrade Glenn Frey in “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “New York Minute”.

Henley called it an honor to play with the band that accompanied him on this tour. Joining him were some members of the Eagles touring band. Among them were guitarist Steuart Smith, drummer Scott Crago, keyboardist Will Hollis and pianist Michael Thompson. His band also featured a horn section and three female background vocalists. The ladies Lara Johnston, Lily Elise and Erica Swindell also each took a turn in the spotlight to sing with Henley on a duet.

Strangely enough, one song that I did not expect to hear was the Tears For Fears cover of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”. It turned out to be quite the crowd pleaser. It was the first song of the night that brought almost the entire crowd out of their seats and had em’ dancing in the aisles. “I hope you find this song as therapeutic as we do” quipped Henley. “The Boys of Summer” ended the main set as the band left the stage for the first time.
The band came back out and promptly tore through the classics “Life In The Fast Lane” and “Hotel California” before leaving the stage a second time.

The band returned with stellar versions of “Wasted Time” and ”Desperado”, a pair of Henley/Frey compositions that oddly enough were never released as singles. Many felt the show was over at this point but Henley and his band resurfaced and did “All She Wants To Do Is Dance”. The ovation was so loud it wouldn’t have surprised me to see Henley come back out for a fourth encore. Alas it was not to be. Perhaps he ran out of songs to play? Don’t let the small crowd just slightly over 5,000 fool you. They were one of the loudest I’ve heard in quite some time.

Henley who will turn 70 next month put on a show for the ages. At one point the Eagles were the biggest band in the world before their split in 1980. Henley created the perfect recipe of songs to play from all phases of his long and illustrious career and sent everyone home with a night they soon won’t forget.

Opening the show was JD & The Straight Shot. Led by singer, guitarist James Dolan they were a great compliment to Henley with their mix of country, Americana roots rock. For the astute Dolan is the one and the same James L. Dolan who just happens to be the Executive Chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company. He was previously CEO of Cablevision, a company his dad started. Music is his hobby and he has assembled quite a band. Dolan was joined by Saturday Night Live Band drummer and percussionist Shawn Pelton, violinist Erin Slaver, bassist Byron House and guitarists Marc Copely and Dolan’s son Aidan Dolan.

The band’s brief set made for a fabulous night of music as their highlights included The Spirit cover “Nature’s Way” as well as the Little Feat Cover of “Let It Roll”. The latter also included snippets of famous songs “Wipe Out” and “Tequila” to name a few. The band also rolled out some new tunes from their upcoming album due out in the near future. You will be hearing much more of this band in the not too distant future.

Don Henley Set
Seven Bridges Road (Steve Young Cover)
Dirty Laundry
Sunset Grill
That Old Flame
Witchy Woman (Eagles Cover)
When I Stop Dreaming (The Louvin Brothers Cover)
New York Minute
One of These Nights (Eagles Cover)
It Don’t Matter to the Sun (Garth Brooks Cover)
Peaceful Easy Feeling (Eagles Cover)
The End of the Innocence
The Last Resort (Eagles Cover)
The Heart of the Matter
Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears For Fears Cover)
The Boys of Summer
Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles Cover)
Hotel California (Eagles Cover)
Encore 2
Wasted Time (Eagles Cover)
Desperado (Eagles Cover)
Encore 3
All She Wants to Do Is Dance

JD & The Straight Shot Set
Redemption Train
Nature’s Way
Violet’s Song
Better Find A Church
Let It Roll

About Joseph Suto

Location: Buffalo, NY Photographer/Reviewer
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