Monday, August 6, 2007

Don Henley & Lucinda Williams

Caught Lucinda Williams and Don Henley Sunday evening at the Zoo Amphitheatre in OKC.

For me, Lucinda was the big draw on this ticket. Though she's not much younger than Henley, she's really hit her stride the last few years and is making exciting and vital music well into her fifties. Her set was raw and gritty, just like I like her. Unfortunately, most of the polo shirt and Dockers crowd in the audience had never heard of her, so the energy was low. Kudos to Lu for closing her set with spoken props to local hero Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, and then playing their collaboration with Thievery Corporation, "Marching the Hate Machines (Into the Sun)."

Henley's reputation is set. He's just coasting these days, but he's got some great stuff to coast on. The set pretty much flew by, with hit after hit after hit. Despite his age (60), his voice still nailed every high note he attempted. He clearly knew how to sing properly when he was younger (as opposed to say, Robert Plant).

While he's never been considered an indie insider's favorite, you've got to credit the guy's work. With The Eagles, he managed to create one of corporate rock's biggest monoliths, a vinyl-moving juggernaut still paying for record exec's pools in 2007.

His solo career launched during the early 80's, into a radio world dominated by synthetic instruments. It wasn't a good place for an old hippie Eagle to find himself, but he managed to adopt the sound well enough to have a number of hits. His lyrics, always underrated, sharpened and matured, and he even turned out one of the 80's best songs, "Boys of Summer."

No huge surprises in his set, except for one: midway through the show he and the band dusted off an old Tears For Fears number, "Everybody Wants To Rule the World." That one really left me scratching my head. But honestly, it fit in well with all of that mid-eighties, heavily sequenced sythesizer stuff Henley was producing back then.

The only mis-step was failing to bring Lucinda back onstage for a "Leather & Lace" duet. Her earthy voice would have worked perfectly in place of Stevie Nicks... but alas, her tour bus pulled away before Henley's first encore.

Encore: "Hotel California." Henley bows, hits the tour bus, and dreams of all the money he's going to rake in during the next Eagles reunion.

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