Willie Nelson in Albany, NY (2/15/09)

— Willie Nelson couldn’t possibly play all his hits in one show, even a 2 1?2-hour show like Sunday night’s at the Palace. But veteran fans of Nelson don’t need to hear his hits; most are happy to hear the American icon sing anything.

Nelson gave them his oldies, a slew of standards and a good dose of his newest, “Willie and the Wheel,” an album conceived 30 years ago and finally realized this month.

Nelson brought the almost full-house down several times over, but only after Asleep at the Wheel lifted it pretty high themselves with their classic western swing packed with horns, fiddles and a steel guitar.

Nelson started his opener “Whiskey River” before the mayhem settled from the Wheel’s set. Nelson took the band right into a long hoedown of a jam, spiced with his own slightly spacey guitar notes. He immediately followed with the darker “Still Is Still Moving,” his guitar chops still moving as sharp as ever.

He settled into the gentle “Funny How Time Slips Away,” where he nailed a tasteful blues solo, before handing it off to teen fiddler Ruby Jane Smith to rev it up a drop. He then slipped into the bluesy “Night Life,” which prompted the first collective scream from the crowd.

Then came the first of many classic westerns from the new release, “Sweet Jennie Lee.” These tunes don’t have the grit of Nelson’s best, but he transforms them with the depth of his experience, making them a drop more than mere pleasurable knee-slapping tunes.

They followed with “Hesitation Blues,” a song Nelson said they plan to play on the David Letterman show tonight. “We’ll rehearse for you,” he said. The classic western was palatable, but far from a concert barn-burner.

They played through a bunch more new ones, including “Right or Wrong,” “Fan It,” like a David Bromberg blues, and “Oh! You Pretty Woman,” an uptempo square-dance that was saved by fancy fiddlin’ and energized dixie-like horn exchanges. He should have stopped after “Sittin’ On Top of the World,” a slight lull falling on the crowd. But he played several more.

The big ones couldn’t have come sooner, like the precious “Georgia on My Mind,” which is as good as they come, “Mamma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” the ballad “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground,” and the timeless “Always On My Mind.”

Asleep at the Wheel did more than warm up the house with songs like “Miles and Miles of Texas,” a boogie-woogie “Route 66,” layered on top with solid horn riffs, Bob Wills’ “Don’t Fence Me In,” and the well-moving “Choo Choo Cha Boogie,” where the arrangement morphed the tune, after several solos, into the be-bop lines of Thelonious Monk.

A great night for Nelson fans, who got both his latest, tempered westerns along with his ambitious oldies and classic goodies — or at least those he had time to serve up.

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