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Willie still sparkles

Willie Nelson
The Riverside Theater
Milwaukee, WI
March 15, 2011
Willie Nelson Willie Nelson Willie Nelson

Story and photos by Gypsy Davey

Looking haggard and road-worn on his surface, Willie showed no signs of life's toll in spirit or spunk, jumping right into the evening's opener with his staple "outlaw period" standard "Whiskey River." The sparkle and charm behind Willie's eyes beamed over the crowd, at 77, Willie Nelson performed as though he inhabited a far much younger facade. Showcasing his spectacular guitar playing style, combining finger picking alongside traditional country strumming, Nelson was able to conjure more emotion from one plucked note than is found on entire albums of current country artists. He'd go from delicately working a few finger-plucked soft notes to violently strumming chords, as if he were shooting dice: an amazingly gifted talent to witness. Willie's guitar "Trigger," looked haggard and road-worn on its surface, but showed no signs of quit, and serviced the balladeer respectively for yet another drive.

As always, Willie played around with his stable of classics by changing tempos and arrangements, such was the case for "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," where during the chorus Willie would simply yell "Mama," followed by the appropriate audience response. The evening was filled with all of his classics, with standouts being "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," the Waylon Jennings dedication "Good Hearted Woman," "On The Road Again," and the Milwaukee referenced "Me And Paul," with the passage:

And at the airport in Milwaukee
They refused to let us board the plane at all
They said we looked suspicious
But I believe they like to pick on me and Paul.

Willie threw in a few recent "ode to the aging" songs with his carpal tunnel homage in "I Ain't Superman," and his ironically humorous "You Don't Think I'm Funny Anymore."

The evening ended without encore, but rather Willie stepping to the stage front making him accessible to those seeking the troubadour's autograph. It was a fittingly perfect gesture to an intimate an accessible evening.

Related articles:

Willie Nelson (Farm Aid 2010) - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI October 2010
Willie Nelson - Concert review - Chicago, IL September 2009
Bob Dylan / Willie Nelson - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI July 2009
Willie Nelson - (Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival) Concert review - Bridgeview, IL July 2007
Willie Nelson / Merle Haggard / Ray Price - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI March 2007
Arlo Guthrie & Friends - Feature story (On Willie's tour bus) - December 2005
Willie Nelson (Country Thunder 2003) - Concert review - Twin Lakes, WI July 2003
Willie Nelson (Farm Aid 2002) - Concert review - Burgettstown, PA September 2002
Willie Nelson - Songbird - Album review

Willie Nelson Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson Willie Nelson

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