One of the last true American country music icons stopped at the Oak Mountain Amphitheater in Pelham, AL (just outside of Birmingham) on May 19, 2018 and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted- good old school country and western music. Willie Nelson, now eighty-five years old, played a non-stop hour and a half set looking healthy and strong despite of recent cancelled concert dates due to illness.
Willie Nelson is often identified with the Outlaw Country movement along with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, and others. Willie is now the last man standing out of that group. He also has a new album out and it seems many of the songs on the album (including one titled Last Man Standing) allude to the fact that Willie Nelson is the last of a literal dying breed.
The Willie Nelson hit list, many of which he played Saturday night, is a long one filled with some of the most famous country songs ever: On the Road Again, Always on My Mind, Crazy, Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, Whiskey River, Mama's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys, Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground, Georgia on My Mind, and dozens more.
Singing in front of a giant Texas flag and playing his legendary guitar "Trigger" (which he once hid from the IRS to keep it from being seized), Willie Nelson rolled through a non-stop hit parade of not only his famous hits but also the hits of several of his late friends as well including Hank Williams (Senior) and Merle Haggard and occasionally tossing in a old gospel hymn like I'll Fly Away and Unclouded Day.
Reality is going to unfortunately set in at some point. Willie Nelson is eighty-five years old and this show can't go on forever (which Willie even alludes to in a few of his new songs) and one must realize that the opportunity to see this icon of Americana is fleeting and probably rapidly. Willie Nelson will be on tour throughout the United States for the next few months and When It Was Cool strongly urges you to take this opportunity to see the American treasure that is Willie Nelson.
The show opened up with Alison Krauss who mixes country, bluegrass, and gospel into an ethereal set of beautiful songs. Her soothing voice is absolutely pitch perfect and at times you wonder how such a voice is even possible. There were several wonderful fairly new songs which we became an instant fan of including the beautiful show opening River in the Rain. Of course, the big hits are there too including You Say it Best (When You Say Nothing at All), and O, Brother Where Art Thou favorite Down to the River to Pray. Other Alison Krauss hits including Ghost in this House and The Lucky One but she absolutely brought the house down with the soaring and unforgettable A Living Prayer which turned out to be one of the greatest vocal performances we had ever seen and still gives us chills just thinking about it.
Be sure to check Willie Nelson and Family as they travel across the country this year and for our Patreon supporters of $1 or more we have recorded an audio podcast review of the show here with even more detail and discussion about the show including some laughs we had along the way.
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