Nine years ago, when Don Henley was closer to 60 than the 70 he became on Saturday, Glenn Frey said it best:
"Without Don," Frey admitted to Rolling Stone, "we'd just be love songs and harmonies. We'd be Air Supply."
Ouch. What Frey was talking about was the edge Henley brought to the music of the Eagles and to his solo work, both of which were joyously in evidence Saturday at Henley's 70th birthday concert at a sold-out American Airlines Center in Dallas.
On a night when sentimentality was unavoidable, when the show ended with white birthday balloons cascading down from the rafters, Henley's own special edge made the three-hour marathon a memorable, never-boring experience.
In a recent interview, Henley said 70 feels a whole lot different from 60, enumerating the aches and pains that go along with being a septuagenarian rocker.
Even so, he appeared determined to deliver a statement, and deliver he did. With his Henleyesque edge intact, he brought enough energy to suggest to the crowd:
Seventy may well be the new 40. And for one night, at least, it was.
After singing the timeless ballad, "Desperado," the 22nd song of the evening, he addressed the crowd that looked his age or older by saying, "Hey, I got a couple more. I'm not tired yet."
So, he sang two more, closing with the Beatles' "Birthday," which appeared on The White Album in 1968, when Henley was a spry 21.
The evening began with an audio montage covering Henley's life span, letting us hear snippets of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers (who sounded like early role models for the Eagles), Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke and, of course, the Beatles.
The show officially opened with Henley's terrific trio of female backup singers serenading the crowd with a fun rendition of "Big D," as in: "Big D, little A, double-L-A-S."
It was a great way to begin, but then Henley seized the stage, appearing with a killer band that at times soared to more than a dozen members. He sang "Seven Bridges Road" before proving Frey's point when he put it to the crowd with one of his edgiest and best songs, "Dirty Laundry."
Calm and relaxed, he loved chatting up the crowd, telling stories about the Velveeta cheese the chef applied to his hamburgers at the L.A. cafe that inspired the song, "Sunset Grill."
He sang dreamy duets with his backup singers, pulling from his 2015 Cass County album such exquisite ballads as "That Old Flame" and "When I Stop Dreaming" before giving the crowd its own birthday present in the form of multiple special guests.
They included fellow Eagles Timothy B. Schmit and monster guitar player Joe Walsh as well as duet partners Patty Smyth and Stevie Nicks.
Henley and Nicks, 69, sang "Leather and Lace" before Henley sang "The Boys of Summer," with Nicks playing tambourine.
Schmit sang "I Can't Tell You Why" and Henley volleyed back with "The End of the Innocence," which he co-wrote with Bruce Hornsby, before singing "The Last Resort."
Nearing the end, Walsh put it into overdrive with his one-of-a-kind guitar work on "Rocky Mountain Way."
But with plenty of energy still left, Henley sang "Life in the Fast Lane," "Hotel California," "Wasted Time" and "Desperado," before closing with "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" and the Beatles' "Birthday."
He did all that and still managed to work in a plug for Pecan Lodge, which fed barbecue to the band before the show.
Pecan Lodge is "the best," he told the crowd, warning them to ignore the "silly" lists magazines publish about the state's premier restaurants.
Even in talking barbecue, he brought "the edge." And that alone carried a birthday show over the top.