|Photos by Jason Wolter|
Congratulations, Houston music fans! We are barely a week into the new year, and you already proven to Aftermath that our dreams and hopes for a new decade of change and decorum during live shows was just that: A wish that will never come to fruition, right up there with hoverboards, world peace, and a Smiths reunion.
Saturday night at Arena Theatre, Willie Nelson trotted out all of the hits that you know him for, and a few more you probably forgot he wrote, all the while digging into the careers of others and giving their cuts new life. At this point in his career, the legendary songwriter could charge people to watch him merely perform twelve rote cuts that you would find on any bargain-priced compilation you could pick up at a truck stop.
But the man still has an artistic pull, so he can meander whenever he feels the spirit so move him. We still go see him, even though we know that he will open and close each show with "Whiskey River," a few people will be the proud owners of a new stage-worn red bandana and that "Trigger" will always be there waiting for him when he hits the stage in all its wholly holey glory. Each set list is a skeleton with the same skull, arms, legs and ribcage, with newer skin and organs thrown on for the diehards who have heard "Always On My Mind" live since their teens (or even younger).
It's his long shadow and the lineage he comes from that should inspire reverence. There are less than a dozen living and breathing classic country icons ambling the Earth, and he is one of them. When you are in the same room as his voice, you are breathing in history with each note.
So imagine Aftermath's surprise when the Arena crowd would not sit down, shut up or refrain from walking up to the stage to take pictures or realize that Nelson will not sign your 11X14 print of him while he was singing. This didn't cease for the two hours the man and his legendarily reliable band went through nearly 30 songs.