Willie Nelson Rexall Place, Edmonton AB - July 16, 2005
Published Aug 01, 2005It takes special science to woo a cavernous coliseum crowd packed with both stage-rushing fake tits and gleaming false teeth in every section - as diverse an audience as possible panning for Willie gold. An overeducated reason to bitch could be drudged up surrounding a general lack of songs from Teatro, Nelson's greatest modern work. Instead he concentrated on, well, every hit the magnetic outlaw ever conceived or dueted on, from "Crazy" to "Whiskey River" to "Pancho and Lefty," playing lots from Honeysuckle Rose and Stardust, with those jazzy fingers and braid-bracketed Mount Rushmore face checking his chords on his country pantheon autographed guitar. But such playing! His immortal road band (including sister Bobbie on ivories) made it not so much a best of Willie as an all around tribute to country music seen from their own easygoing Texas street corner. As a songwriter, Willie gave due to Kristofferson, Haggard, Hank and even Jimmy Cliff. He chuckled at the memories of Van Zandt and Waylon, and there was a narcotic Sesame Street jam feel thanks to that warbled hayseed harp and Willie's rotation of "personality" hats. "Momma don't let your cowboys grow up to be babies," he grinned, getting bigger laughs on the doper diary entry "Me and Paul." In front of the Lone Star banner, he adjusted tempo, singing minor key harmonies as leads to spice ubiquitous standards, his 72-year-old jukebox voice backed by some 8,100 fans. He kept leaning over to listen, looking every bit the wise old native he became so young. "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" and "You Were Always on My Mind" milked me the most, besides the silk-screened, venue-specific posters, that is. I mean, let's face it, this show was about a checklist coming in. Luckily, despite its adherence to the popular, consideration will recall it as a perfect night of music, tightly rolled.