Though temperatures were high in Kansas earlier in the week, things quickly became bitter cold…too “cold for this California boy.” as Don Henley put it, at the start of his near two-hour set, at Yardley Hall, at Johnson County Community College. A venue, more famous for hosting dance troupes, and world-re-known opera stars seemed an odd place for an evening of the classic rock hits of The Eagles. But there were no complaints from the Johnson County crowd; no Lebowski to cry out, “I fucking hate The Eagles, man!”
Even if there was (why would he be there in the first place), there were more than just Eagles hits through the evening – a cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Pride and Joy found it’s way into the beginning of the set. With such a large arsenal of songs, Felder would definitely need help with vocals, and found it with bass player, and former Chicago vocalist, Jeff Coffey. Jeff’s rich vocals help fill out the sound (with additional backing vocals from David Myhre. A rich, fuller sound is produced, making this much more than a singer playing the hits from his former band.
I have fond memories of Yardley Hall, having spent much time there while a student at JCCC. As a student, I participated in some theatrical productions, and our opening night coincided with a Peter, Paul and Mary concert. Between scenes, we sat in the dressing room, listening to their concert over the monitors, rather than our own show…another student production was happening that night, and I can’t help but wonder if they were doing the same. And, yes, I did bump into the folk trio backstage, while I was dressed as an 80 year-old Chinese man. Ah, memories…
While Felder’s vocals themselves may not have been the strongest, his guitar playing has not diminished over the years at all, and looked incredibly happy, and healthy onstage. Spending much of the night pacing about, and posing for all would-be-picture-snappers in the crowd. Much of his music was introduced with behind-the-scenes anecdotes, or jokes about which substances may have had some influence on the music (Cherry Coke, I assure you…), it was clear he sill had much reverence for the music, his fans, and band members. A tender moment was when he dedicated Tequila Sunrise to the sorely missed Glenn Frey.
I’ve never gotten to see the classic Eagles line-up live (or even the currently touring line-up), so I’m painfully aware of what I’ve missed, but Don Felder, is able to create an inescapable hold on the audience, from the opening chords of Already Gone, until his signature double-neck comes out at the end. Love the Eagles, or hate them like the Dude, there’s no getting away from their music. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin