Waylon Jennings Waterloo Park, March 31
Waterloo Park, March 31 It's going on 30 years since Waylon, Willie, and the boys grabbed the country music establishment by the collar and gave it a good shakin'. It's hard to imagine a time when their brand of country would have riled as many people as it did in the early Seventies, but "outlaw country" as it was practiced then had a hard edge and an attitude that makes lots of today's alt.country sound pretty namby-pamby by comparison. All that said, it meant a great deal to see Waylon and band, even at this late date. Unfortunately, things change. His voice is still as strong and evocative as ever, and it was great to hear him on songs like "Rainy Day Woman," "Amanda," and "The Wurlitzer Prize," the material everyone came out to hear. Jennings' longtime love, Jessi Colter, came out for a version of "I'm Not Lisa" and a sweet duet on "Storms Never Last," and together, they sounded as wonderful as they did in 1977. It was tough, though, to see him hobble onstage with a cane and play the whole set sitting down, his rhythm guitar pulled almost completely out of the mix. What's more, far too much of the weight was being pulled by his rhythm guitarist, whose quavery voice was front-and-center on more than one song; between him and the background singer, it seemed like they carried about half the set. The beauty of so many Waylon compositions was in their lean, sparse production and less-is-more approach. These days, the entourage includes a meddlesome horn section that works against the simplicity of his songs. Even the man himself didn't seem to be enjoying it all that much, though he did close one nostril for a Willie impersonation on "Good Hearted Woman." Everyone knows about Waylon's wild years, his hard times, and the way they've taken a toll on his health, but even with his health problems, seeing him front a tough fivepiece at an intimate setting such as Poodie's rather than the glitzy showbiz cheesiness of Saturday's show would be the way to go. No doubt he's still got it in him, it just doesn't need to be smothered with saxophones, flutes, and background singers. I don't think Hank done it that way.
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