Friday, December 13, 2013
Merle Haggard @ The Golden Nugget: A Review
Golden Nugget, Las Vegas
12 12 13
The "Before Noon Entertainment Review":
Merle Haggard, Golden Nugget Las Vegas
Cliche or not, it has to be said - the man is a living legend.
Merle Haggard is an American treasure, and we were fortunate to be a couple of flies on the roadhouse wall as he walked through the years with an epic collection of enduring songs, that the audience often burst along into song with as soon as they recognized each one.
Looking fit and trim, as well as in mighty fine voice, Haggard easily confirmed the validity of all the accolades and awards he has gathered over the years. With a big ole rodeo crowd still in vast numbers in Vegas (and in the audience), he was preachin' to the choir, and we were all converts last night.
Kind-of a smoother Willie Nelson, his voice is a direct line to folks like Alan Jackson - he often sounded like a more weathered version. I can see now why Jackson recorded his "If We Make It Through December", a sort of outlaw country Christmas song...performed last night, as tis the season, after all :-)
Oh, he played a wide array of hits, and songs I hadn't heard before as well. "Mama Tried", "Fighting Side Of Me", and of course "Okie From Muskogee". But in between the classics, some gentle ballads, wry humour, and stories chock full of insightful lyrics - as good as any literary writer has ever scribbled. That's why they stick, and that's why he has inspired a legion of fellow artists over the years.
Last night illustrated why you don't need special effects and gimmicks to win over an audience- just a tight band, sincerity, and talent. Haggard, like Willie Nelson, knows his way around the fretboard of his instrument, alternating rhythm guitar, lead runs, and other riffing. At one point he even played a couple of songs on his fiddle - mighty impressive...
We attended the 1st of 2 sold-out shows, nice to see he can still easily pack them in.
We actually had tickets to see him years ago in B.C. - at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival. I think that was the year Mrs. That Dan Guy developed pneumonia, and we cut the festival short. That's behind us now, as well as checking "See Merle Haggard Live" off our bucket list...