Friday Night: George Jones At Arena Theatre
For Rocks Off, going to see George Jones radiated much the same feeling of apprehension we had about the Pogues show at House of Blues in October 2009. On one level, we half-expected - no, feared - a train wreck, a career-marring embarrassment for both artist and audience.
Come on, none of us wanted to see Shane MacGowan clutching his chest onstage while we wait for EMS to arrive. On our highest level, we hope against hope that things will be okay, that the old magic is still there, that our heroes win one more glorious battle before galloping off into the sunset.
With the Pogues, that essentially happened. With George Jones, less so.
Call him No Show Jones if you want - and he's got T-shirts he'll sell you that declare him No Show Jones, if you think that's cool somehow - but The Possum showed up right on time Friday night, seeming sober as a judge and honestly wanting to be back in front of a crowd. He was especially gracious with his nods to "being back in Houston, where we don't come often enough it seems."
But the truth of the matter is, Jones voice is, by and large, gone. He tries, and Aftermath gives him major kudos for trying hard - very, very hard - to deliver on hit songs like "Take Me" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
He was funny and gracious as he apologized for allergies and not feeling well the past week, and his best moment of the night was when he asked the crowd what it thought about "new country" radio. After a hailstorm of boos, Jones told the crowd that one thing wrong with new country radio was that they had screened out all "the cheatin' and drinkin' songs."
"Well, I'm just gonna tell you right now, we're gonna do a whole lot of them boogers right here tonight," Jones declared before breaking into one of the best performances of the evening, "Bartender's Blues."
Yes, he said "boogers."