Willie Nelson wows Woodlands Crowd

Brett Coomer, Staff Photographer

Concert review: Willie Nelson, at 90, wows Woodlands crowd with classics that still pack emotion

by: Joey Guerra

Read article, see more photos here.

Willie Nelson’s Woodlands setlist included classics and covers, gospel hymns and a request to “roll me up and smoke me when I die.”

There were few surprises for anyone who has previously seen the living legend in concert. But it didn’t matter. The gift Sunday night was Nelson himself.

At 90 years old, Nelson could have long ago hung up his cowboy hat with no regrets. His career is unparalleled and includes more than six decades of music that spans country, rock, jazz and more. Instead, Nelson has continued to tour and release albums nonstop.  He released “I Don’t Know a Thing About Love,” a collection of songs by Harland Howard, earlier this year. Another album, “Bluegrass,” is due in September. A book, “Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs,” will be released in November.

Sunday’s performance was part of Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival. The daylong event featured Whiskey Myers, Flatland Calvary, Brittney Spencer and Particle Kid, the stage name of Nelson’s son, J. Micah Nelson.

“How y’all doin’?” Nelson asked as he settled onstage for kickoff tune “Whiskey River.” His trademark red bandana was draped across his forehead. A U.S. flag unfurled behind him as the song started.

Nelson’s onstage pace is slow and steady. There’s not much talking, and he stays seated in the center of his small band. It helps Nelson sustain energy but also obliges the audience to pay close attention. The crowd stretched far up the venue’s grassy hill and often watched in near silence as Nelson crooned “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” or “Always On My Mind.”

Nelson has performed these songs hundreds of times. But he’s still able to wring gut-punching emotion out of every moment. His version of “Georgia On My Mind” makes the song truly his own. You could almost feel the heartbreak during “I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die.” 

And it’s during the gospel moments — “I’ll Fly Away,” “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” “I Saw the Light” — that the mood feels the most joyful, Nelson and the crowd connected through handclaps, hallelujahs and years of songs.



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