June 22, 2005 Wednesday
Henley, Nicks shoot for stars
By Joshua Klein, Special to the Tribune.
In the '70s, Don Henley and Stevie Nicks ruled the road and the charts with the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. In the '80s, they were solo forces as well, transitioning and transforming with ease to suit trends and reap mammoth success. By the end of the '90s, they were cashing in for lucrative reunion tours with their formative, formidable bands.
The question, then, for any aging, incalculably wealthy rock titan is: What next?
The Tweeter Center in Tinley Park wasn't the best place to see these two California rock icons team up for the final night on a short tour. A venue such as the Chicago Theatre would have been cozier, classier and better suited to both acts. But the idea was sound, and those out on a beautiful Sunday night savored what at times felt pretty special.
Henley's been cast as numerous archetypes over the years. The Cynic. The CEO. The Jerk. But he was best when he acted The Wimp during his opening set. The highlights were not rockers such as the Eagles' "Witchy Woman" or "Life in the Fast Lane" but weepy ballads such as "Heart of the Matter," "The End of the Innocence," "Desperado" and his perfectly bittersweet -- and possibly perfect -- "The Boys of Summer."
Henley did, however, relish the media stab "Dirty Laundry," even if the infectious song still reeks of solipsism.
With the sun still out, Nicks emerged from the wings as an inspired duet partner on "New York Minute," "The Last Worthless Evening" and "Hotel California," making even the latter sound fresh again. Well, fresher.
What Nicks -- like Henley, in remarkably good voice -- brought was a toughness that belied her tiny stature. Even at her most wounded, she snarled and bit into songs such as Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" and her own sprightly ditty "Enchanted."
Henley returned for a trio of duets during Nicks' set, singing Tom Petty's part on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," covering Bonnie Raitt's "Circle Dance" and adding some nice dramatic tension to "Gold Dust Woman."
It was after that last song, when Henley and Nicks shared a slow dance, that he cracked one of his few smiles of the night.
Nicks, on the other hand, was almost all smiles, interacting with the crowd and obviously feeding off its enthusiasm. And really, how could the audience not be enthused after "Stand Back" and "Edge of Seventeen," two of the best disco songs of the '80s? But even better were Nicks' ballads, particularly the lyrical dialectics "Beauty and the Beast" and "Leather and Lace," the latter again featuring Henley, reprising the vocal that helped make the song a hit more than 20 years ago.
If there was a misstep in the evening, it was the final encore -- the Byrds' cautionary "So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star." Sure, Henley and particularly Nicks have seen their share of excess and been misled by the trappings of fame, but both seem to have come out the other end too satisfied and secure to wag their fingers at anyone.