Dedication and Disappointment...Don Henley in Chicago (6/17/2017)

It's kind of ironic. In our last blog post, we wrote about the time we went to Ames, Iowa for a Henley concert in 1991 only to find out it was cancelled for a reason we never learned. We went through a little bit of that this past weekend, but this time, we were very much in the loop.

Some of you who are friends with us on Facebook know that our trip to Chicago didn't start out very auspiciously. We meant to fly into Chicago on Thursday night. Our plans included some tourist stuff during the day on Friday, seeing Hamilton Friday night and then attending the Henley concert at the Huntington Pavilion at Northerly Island on Saturday night (Melissa's birthday). To make a long story short, our flight out of San Antonio was delayed. We were supposed to leave at 7:00 PM.  We decided to cancel our flight and book something else when we were notified that the flight had been bumped to 2:18 am...getting into Chicago at 5 am (They ultimately cancelled the flight and rebooked people on something the next day that would have meant us missing Hamilton). So, Thursday night, we went home and flew to Chicago from Austin on Friday morning.

We had been watching the weather. Storms were predicted for the Chicago area on Saturday night, but in the summer, these things are often hit and miss. Sometimes the storms don't materialize, or a line of storms blows through an area and then everything clears up. We knew that we were going to have to be flexible and be prepared for the worst...a cancelled concert.

Saturday was beautiful, but those storms still loomed on the radar maps. We got to the show and as JD and the Straight Shot played for the crowd, we could see the sky in the west grow darker and darker. A few raindrops plopped down, but it was nothing we couldn't live with. The tickets said "rain or shine" and we knew a Henley show in the rain might be an adventure.

The problem, though, is that while rain is an acceptable condition for a show, lightning and storms are not. They put the artist and the audience in danger. As they were setting up for Don's set after JD, instruments that had been uncovered were suddenly covered again. Then announcements were made in the venue and posted on their social media....

It was actually kind of scary when this first announcement was made. Melissa was at the t-shirt stand trying to buy rain ponchos. She didn't have her phone because it was dead. All of a sudden, there was something muffled on the loudspeaker and people were heading toward the gates. One woman was screaming, telling everyone to leave and that the show had been cancelled. That wasn't the case, though. This was a temporary evacuation.  Because of lightning in the area, they had to get people to shelter and they were right to do what they did. Our group (we were attending the show with long time Eagle-buddy, Julie) was lucky to find each other. The directions we had were to head to the "north garage". It was confusing where that was. From talking with people, we learned that it was somewhere under Soldier Field. 

That seemed like a long way away, plus as die-hard Packers fans, there was no way we were going to set foot in Soldier Field. We took cover under a grove of trees with about 200 other fans (the lightning wasn't in the area at the time and there was a restroom we could take shelter in if the rain turned into anything more deadly.) We had been told to watch social media, so we did....

This was good news. We could see on the radar that the storms were moving out over Lake Michigan. We were hopeful. The only thing that concerned us was if there would be a curfew. We did have an unexpected treat and ran into Florida fan, Ursula and her daughter. Everyone in that grove of trees remained hopeful that the show would go on.

Then we saw this...

Yeah!  Within about 10 minutes, they opened up the gates. They quickly wanded everyone and made sure people knew to return to their original seats. People were really good about that for the most part. It was an orderly process. Thanks to group member, Jennifer, who sent her husband over to wipe our seats off for us. We appreciated it!

Within minutes, Don and his band took the stage and launched right into 7 Bridges Road. Don was in great voice and you couldn't tell that we had all endured some pretty unique circumstances. After the song, Don told us that they could only play until 11:30, but they were going to do their best to play as many songs as possible in that time. 

And that is exactly what they did. We got 13 songs. It felt like what you might get at a corporate show or a shared bill show. No songs from Cass duets with the girls...just the hits (Plus Everybody Wants to Rule the World).

So let's talk about the two words I used in the title of this post....Dedication and Disappointment.

Dedication. The fans who came back were most assuredly dedicated. We withstood rain and storms and delays and returned ready to rock. This smaller group was unlike crowds at other Henley shows. There really weren't any "sitting songs".  People were on their feet most of the night. We were wet and bedraggled and tired, but we had a good time. In the songs that mentioned rain (like New York Minute.. "You can get out of the rain") everyone cheered and Don laughed. While our show was shorter, we certainly all have a story to tell.

Don's band and crew were amazing. They changed instruments with precision to make sure there was no "wasted time" on stage. Julie remarked that there is more of a break between songs on her CDs than there was at that show. Everyone acted professionally and did their best to make sure that the show that happened was the best that could be had under the circumstances.

That brings us to Don. I think he really found himself between a rock and a hard place. He was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. There was almost no story telling or jokes between songs. Knowing what Don has said about some of the reasons the Eagles decided to go forward after Glenn's passing, it makes sense. Don knows that the crowd comes to hear their favorite songs. This was not the time or place for obscure album cuts or duets with his background singers. So he played all of his hits. Boys of Summer, Sunset Grill, Hotel California, Heart of the Matter...if it was a hit, Don played it. I've read some comments about how Don seemed like he didn't want to be there. We were in the 2nd row and it really seemed that he was working his butt off to get in the best show he could have. He frequently and quickly conferred with Will Hollis, the musical director. We assume it was to tweak the setlist to maximize the time he was able to perform.

That being said, let's talk a little about disappointment because we know there are a lot of unhappy fans. Some people fell victim to the sloppy miscommunication from the venue and some couldn't stay out in the rain. Some people feel cheated by the shortened set list and others think the show should have been rescheduled. Here's what we think. Remember...this is just our opinion.

First of all...for some people, Don Henley may be God, but he doesn't control the weather. There was nothing to be done about the storms. We had wondered if maybe things would have been better if they had cancelled JD and the Straight Shot and had Don take the stage at 7:30. Because of the timing of the storms, though, we still would have ended up with a 75 minute show. The evacuation order came in at about 8:45. I don't think they would have taken a break and come back for more. It just would have ended at that point.

Some people think the show could have been rescheduled, but that's more difficult than it sounds. Don's tour ended the next night in St. Paul. In order to reschedule, they would have had to find a time in the future to get the band together and get the equipment back to Chicago for just one show. That just isn't practical...especially with July being taken up with the Classic shows and Don's birthday party. 

It is also true that the venue could have handled things better. They told people to check "social media" but didn't tell people exactly what media to check. Their updates were clear and informative, but you had to be able to find them. Some people really were left with the impression that the concert was cancelled, so they left. I don't know if there is anything to be done about that.

It sucks. It does. Are we personally disappointed? Just a little. We had really wanted to hear Don do "Peaceful Easy Feeling" in honor of Glenn. We wish he had cut one of the slower songs (like New York Minute) so he could have gotten to that one. Right before Desperado, someone came out and showed Don something on a cell phone. We don't know if it was a weather update or an official notice that he HAD to be off the stage by 11:30 or what, but at that point, he held up one finger telling the band that Desperado would be it. Maybe they could have squeezed in Peaceful Easy Feeling (The show ended about 3 or 4 minutes before 11:30), but we're sure Don did what he thought was best or what he was required to do. We should note that about 2 minutes after Don left the stage, the heavens opened up and we got the heaviest rain of the night. We were soaked.

This will for sure be a show we will always remember. We're glad it wasn't cancelled. We're glad we got to meet so many other great fans. We're glad we got to hang out with Julie. We bet at some point, we'll hear Don sing Peaceful Easy Feeling again. We're sorry so many people are disappointed. We're proud of Don and his band for doing the best they could in difficult circumstances.

 It's like the song says, "It may be raining, but there's a rainbow above you".

Our First Road Trip

We're getting ready to head out on a concert road trip tomorrow. This one will be a short one. We're flying to Chicago to see Don Henley play on Melissa's birthday (we're also going to catch Hamilton for the 2nd time).  Calling the pet sitter and getting suitcases ready has brought back memories of our very first Don Henley road trip.

Our road trip...Red to blue to purple to yellow.

Our road trip...Red to blue to purple to yellow.

It was 1991. Don was doing another leg of the End of the Innocence promotional tour and he was playing multiple dates in the midwest. This worked out well for us. We were college students, it was summer vacation and one of us had a credit card. We didn't have a lot of money, though, that's for sure (especially after buying concert tickets...even $20.00-$38.00 seemed like a lot back then). We thriftily packed a couple loaves of bread and some peanut butter to save costs. We had reservations at Motel 6s. We were ready to hit the road and see Don.

The first show was July 31st in Kansas City (Bonner Springs, actually). We set off from Eau Claire, Wisconsin in a Ford Mustang (not a cool Mustang, was a hatchback).  I remember it was hot. We had maps to guide us. We had a box full of cassettes to keep us company. It seemed to take forever, but we eventually got there. We spent a couple of hours in line because we had general admission tickets. Don's cover story in GQ had just come out and a lot of us fans spent time in line discussing the explosive revelations in that story.

Don was appearing at Sandstone Amphitheater with Bonnie Raitt and Chris Isaak (Bonnie referred to herself as the "meat in the middle").  We sat on the lawn and were enthralled by Don. We don't remember much about the show, except that Don wore this big, poofy white shirt (think Seinfeld). and blue jeans. The Internet tells me that the set list featured songs like Gimme What You Got, Driving with Your Eyes Closed, Victim of Love and a cover of Joni Mitchell's River. We were also excited that there was a tour program with beautiful pictures available. While it is difficult to remember specific details, we do remember that it was a magical night. 

After spending the night in a disgusting motel, we headed off the next day for Ames, Iowa. Don was going to be appearing at the University there. We had a day off in between and went to the zoo in Omaha. We also got lost trying to find some sort of Jesse James landmark.  The next day, we got to Ames with plenty of time to spare. I remember we splurged and got some food and then made our way to the venue. As we approached, we were a bit perplexed. There were no cars in the parking lot and no trucks and buses to indicate a major rock and roll concert would be happening in a few hours. Did we have the date wrong? We double checked the tickets. Nope. We parked at the arena and noticed there were signs taped to the door.s Our worst fears were realized when we read what they said...that the concert was cancelled and would not be rescheduled. Remember, there was no internet and being from out of town, he hadn't heard any announcements that were probably made on the radio. To this day, we don't know exactly why the show was cancelled. We don't even have the tickets because we had to mail them back to get a refund.

We were heartbroken, but we had 2 more Henley concerts on the horizon. We drove from Ames to Lisa's parents' house outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Don was set to do 2 dates at the fabled Alpine Valley with Sting. We weren't that excited about Sting, but Melissa had won one set of lawn seats on the radio. For the second of these we were in the 5th row, but kind of on the side. In fact, when we were in these seats, there was a big black curtain blocking our view. Our entire section started a chant, complaining we couldn't see and they eventually moved the curtain. Small victories!  Again, the details of the shows are a bit fuzzy. One night Don opened for Sting and the other night Sting opened for Don. They also had 2 other openers...Susannah Hoffs (with her stunning cover of Feel Like Making Love......not easy to forget, that's for sure!) and Vinx. Don did a shortened set and he and Sting never sang together. I even think we left early the night Sting went on 2nd. 

After the 2nd show, we headed back to Eau Claire, ready to begin our last year of college. We had no idea what amazing road trips were in our future.

What's your favorite Eagles related road trip?

The story of a story....

We've been covering Eagles news for a long time. We used to have to hunt really hard for the news...searching the Random Notes section of Rolling Stone for mentions or waiting for the next copy of ICE (International CD Exchange) to find out if anyone had new music coming out. We'd make a point to watch Kurt Loder on MTV tell us about the Week in Rock and hope there would be something we could report. 

We got information from community members too. It might come in the form of a post on Prodigy from someone in Boston who saw Don was in town for a Walden Woods Project meeting or a person might pop into IRC chat who had seen Joe at a baseball training event down in Florida. We took notes and we wrote it up. 

These days, though, Facebook and Google alerts make news instantaneous and things can feel overwhelming for Eagles fans.  Twitter keeps us up to date...sometimes minute by minute through a concert or appearance. We see photos the night of a concert...not days or weeks later. We don't just hear that Timothy was on the radio in Omaha...we can listen live or download the podcast later. It's amazing what technology can do, it really is.  One thing we've learned, though, is that in order to navigate this onslaught of news, you have to be a careful reader and consumer of information. 

Let's take the recent story about Don revealing how Deacon Frey would be appearing at the Classic East / Classic West shows this summer. 

We saw a notice on Twitter that Don would be appearing on a Dallas sports radio show. We were at work and super busy so we didn't get a chance to post about it ahead of time. Lisa made a point, though, to turn on the radio while she was grading papers after school and caught the interview. As soon as Don made the announcement, knowing this was huge news, Lisa typed it up and put it on the Fastlane Facebook page. Now we aren't claiming we got the scoop. Obviously, the guys at The Ticket did.....but immediately after that our post was shared and re-shared in groups and on pages all over Facebook (The initial post has been seen by over 31,000 people!) That's awesome. That's the point of share information. What happens, though, is that other bloggers and news outlets see these shares and re-shares. They found the original interview and wrote articles about it, quoting extensively from what Don had to say rather than just directing people to go listen to the interview for themselves (we initially wrote a recap before we knew the station would be posting it).  There are now dozens of these articles that are all the same because they were working with the same source material. What's interesting (and amusing), is that some of them don't seem to have listened very carefully. Some of them get the point and some don't. Check out these headlines (and this is just one screen grab)

Check out the variety of headlines. Don reveals Glenn's replacement? Nobody can replace Glenn. In fact, Don even says that. There is an Eagles tour? We are talking 2 dates. That isn't a tour! Notice that the reputable publication, Billboard, gets it the most correct (though they have bungled headlines in the past). All of these stories are swirling around Facebook getting posted and reposted in the various Eagles groups. What is missing, though, is the context. All of these stories are built on one interview. One interview. None of them have anything new to offer. There is no additional reporting, no further comment. I don't know what can be done about this. Fans get excited seeing a "new" interview and we get that. It is exciting. It just gets overwhelming. 

For us that's why things are a little frustrating and things feel so cluttered.  When there are so many groups and so many stories, it seems that this is the only thing popping up on timelines. We have one interview and hundreds of stories all saying the same thing...unless they are getting it wrong. Here's what we mean:

One radio station actually quoted from our recap of the interview. They didn't read carefully, though. They reported that when Glenn was ill, his daughter Taylor got married. Our story didn't mention Taylor. We said that Don's eldest daughter got married. They read our recap, misinterpreted what was said, did research to find out that Glenn's daughter's name was Taylor and went with the sensational "scoop". When we wrote to the station to point out this pretty significant error, we got back a rude message in ALL CAPS telling us they had taken care of it. Wow. 

So that's the state of Eagles news these days. When something breaks, it breaks hard and it is everywhere. As fans and thoughtful consumers of information, we might just have to take a breath and Take it Easy :)

Things have changed. How did you find Eagles news in the past?