There are a few bucket list items that seem universal for music fans. Watching Don Henley perform “Hotel California,” the title track of one of the most popular rock albums of all time, in California is probably one of them.
If, like me, you were able to make it to Henley’s concert on Tuesday at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles, go ahead and check that off the list.
The Eagles drummer and co-lead vocalist played a setlist that spanned more than 40 years, ranging from his 1972 song “Witchy Woman” to tracks from his most recent album, “Cass County,” which was released in 2015.
Wearing a white-striped shirt and a black vest, Henley opened the show at the Chumash Grandstand Area just after 8:30 pm with a harmonious cover of Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road” — a song made famous by the Eagles when it reached No. 21 on the Billboard charts in 1980.
He followed that up with “Dirty Laundry,” a hit from his debut solo album, “I Can’t Stand Still,” in 1982.
“They put my dressing room back by the stock pens,” Henley joked during a break. “Smells just like home.”
Henley, 69, grew up in Linden, Texas, where the population in 2010 was just under 2,000. His life there was the inspiration for the name, songs and country-rock feel of his latest album.
Henley wove a few melodic tracks from “Cass County,” his first solo album in 15 years, into Tuesday’s performance — including duets “That Old Flame,” “Words Can Break Your Heart” and “When I Stop Dreaming”.
The mostly middle-aged crowd seemed to appreciate the classic country music cuts, but they had come for the hits. Following the slower, “sitting down part of the show,” as Henley called it, the pace picked up in a big way when he performed a cover of Tears For Fear’s “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.”
“The world has gone bat(crap) crazy,” Henley said before getting the half-capacity crowd out of their seats with the 1985 chart-topper.
Then Henley pulled out the big guns. The crowd sang along with “Boys of Summer” before Henley exited the stage, leaving the crowd cheering for more.
The rocker returned for the first of two encores with “Life In The Fast Lane.” He followed it up with “Hotel California,” which received the longest cheer of the night.
Henley left the stage again before re-emerging for “Desperado,” a song he dedicated to Eagles bandmate Glenn Frey, who died in January. The concertgoers swayed in unison and held up lighters as they sang along.
Henley said last year that his singing voice won’t last much longer, but after hearing him hit his signature high notes and weave together country classics and ’80s hits, it doesn’t appear he will be slowing down anytime soon.
The California Mid-State Fair runs through Sunday at the Paso Robles Event Center, 2198 Riverside Ave. in Paso Robles. For more information, call 1-800-909-FAIR (3247) or visit www.midstatefair.com.