Don Henley at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Paul Wellman

Don Henley at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Don Henley and Emmylou Harris at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Music Legends Sing Rock ‘n’ Roll and Country Blues

The first time I heard the Eagles’ “Hotel California,” it was emanating through the belly of my stuffed raccoon radio. I recall being mesmerized by the eerie guitar solo intro and surreal lyrics. When Don Henley performed that now-classic song last Saturday night at the Bowl, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Henley’s voice is just as bright and affecting as it was in the 1970s, and “Hotel California” is just as captivating and creepy all these decades later.

Don Henley wailed through the hits Saturday at the Bowl.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Don Henley wailed through the hits Saturday at the Bowl.

Henley cut a fit, cool figure onstage. His 15-member band, which included a horn section and two backup singers, perfectly translated his heavily produced 1980s hits (“The Boys of Summer,” “Sunset Grill”), as well as the more funky pieces (“Dirty Laundry” and Kool & The Gang’s “Funky Stuff”) and quieter numbers (“Desperado”). It was so spot on, in fact, you could have been listening to the actual recordings. Even though Henley didn’t reinterpret any of his numbers for this live performance, the original versions remained ear-catching and lyrically pertinent.

Opening for Henley was the lovely Emmylou Harris. Harris gained national popularity with her 1975 album Pieces of the Sky and has continued to be a mainstay of the folk/country genre. Saturday night, she reminded listeners why. With a blanket of fog hovering over the Bowl, both Henley and Harris provided a stunning evening of aural pleasure, offering recollections of their epic contributions to American music and tantalizing hints of their work yet to come. n

Don Henley Set

Dirty Laundry

Sunset Grill

Everybody is Famous (by Jeffrey Foucault)

In a New York Minute

Everything is Different Now

Last Worthless Evening That You’ll Have to Spend

One of These Nights (Eagles)

It Don’t Matter to the Sun

Too Far Gone w/Emmylou Harris (by Billy Sherrill)

End of the Innocence

Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears cover)

Heart of the Matter

Guilty (Randy Newman cover)

You Don’t Have to Believe Me (by Eric Hutchinson)

Funky Stuff (Kool & the Gang cover)

The Boys of Summer

All She Wants to Do is Dance

Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles)


Long Run (Eagles)

Hotel California (Eagles)

Desperado (Eagles)

By Paul Wellman

Emmylou Harris at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Emmylou Harris Set

Six White Cadillacs

Orphan Girl

Red Dirt Girl

Hold On

Goodnight Old World

Hello Stranger

Pancho and Lefty


The Road

My Name is Emmett Till


Luxury Liner (Gram Parsons cover)

Together Again

I Was Born to Run

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