Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (Tuscaloosa, OK) (10/24/13)

benflanagan3
photo:  Ben Flanagan

www.al.com
by:  Ben Flanagan

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — A packed Tuscaloosa Amphitheater sang nearly every last word along with country legends Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in the venue’s final show of the calendar year Thursday, Oct. 24.

The Amp went out with a bang, filling nearly every seat in the house for a memorable show featuring a pair of country’s most celebrated and influential figures, both of whom were in top form Thursday night.

benflanagan
photo:  Ben Flanagan

The show kicked off with openers Paula Nelson Band, featuring Willie’s daughter fronting the group as they launched into a spirited set of original music along with familiar songs from the likes of Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers.

As soon as Merle Haggard hit the stage, the place went nuts. The 76-year-old opened with his famous “Big City,” which started the never-ending singalong in the energetic Amp crowd on a cool night that never got too cold.

benflanagan4
photo:  Ben Flanagan

Haggard, playing a Fender Telecaster quite well, went from one hit to the next, even blending in a few covers like Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” Haggard would close with “Okie from Muskogee,” prefacing the song with “This song’s about marijuana,” met with a wave of applause from the crowd.

It didn’t take too long for Willie Nelson to hop out on to the stage, with a giant Texas state flag waving as a backdrop and a talented but ultimately pretty low-key backup band, too.

Nelson opened with “Whiskey River,” and he might as well have let the fan-filled crowd sing the whole set. In fact, Nelson felt obliged to let the crowd sing the choruses of some tracks. He played hits like “Good Hearted Woman” and “Funny How Time Slips Away,” as he wailed on his classical acoustic guitar for the remainder of the evening.

benflanagan2
photo:  Ben Flanagan

Read the article and see more photos here.

Leave a Reply