James Dolan brought his band The Straight Shot back to Chicago last night to open for The Eagles at United Center. I caught them last year at Huntington Bank Pavilion where they opened for one of The Eagles, Don Henley. This was the first time in 20 years of concerts when I’ve seen a band first at a big outdoor amphitheater and then indoors, and it actually changed a lot. The move from open air to closed off space affected the energy and the feel of every song. I didn’t notice any difference in the band themselves, Dolan has assembled an Avengers-level squad of musicians to play with him. Still, I thought they were better the first time I saw them.
Granted, this is coming from a shorter viewing. At Huntington Bank Pavilion I saw their full set-some from the back by the soundboard and the rest from my seat. At United Center I only got to see the first four songs before I and the rest of the photographers were whisked back to the holding area to wait for The Eagles set to start. Of those first four, the only one I know is off their latest record Good Luck and Good Night is called “Moonlight,” which was my favorite of the few I got to hear.
The highlight was seeing Erin Slaver get a couple nice violin solos and Marc Copley stoically playing tricky guitar and mandolin parts like they’re nothing. The harmonies when the whole band gets involved sound great. I didn’t get to hear any of Dolan’s self-deprecating jokes like last time when he mentioned a song of theirs being in a terrible movie that no one saw. That was too bad because I think stuff like that allows people to see that he’s got a sense of humor about himself and is having fun doing what he loves.
They have a string of dates coming up with The Eagles, Chicago, and The Doobie Brothers. Check out their website for info on all of those shows and to hear music from their new album.