Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, Thu 8 & Fri 9 May
There is a certain evergreen enthusiasm about Willie Nelson that makes him unmistakably a country musician. They all have it, or had it: Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash. It’s the blinding passion anchored in a Southern upbringing, driven by a great love for what they do and polished by years of hard graft to keep it that way. It’s what makes country music so damn intoxicating.
Nelson’s is an enthralling story. Born in Texas, his breakthrough came in 1961 when two of his songs – Faron Young’s take on ‘Hello Walls’ and Patsy Cline’s rendition of ‘Crazy’ – introduced us to one of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters. It wasn’t until the mid-70s, however, that he found fame as a solo artist. Along with Waylon Jennings he became the face of ‘outlaw country’ named for its disregard for the country music directives of the time. A sideline on the big screen followed – in The Electric Horseman with Robert Redford and Honeysuckle Rose with Amy Irving – but times changed Nelson’s star waned.
But not for long and never for good. In 1985 he teamed up with Cash, Jennings and Kris Kristofferson to form the hugely popular Highwaymen and he hasn’t stopped touring since. Tax problems and drugs controversy have taken their toll but, at 75, Nelson is still singing. This tour coincides with the release of a greatest hits album including ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’, ‘Night Life’ and ‘Always on My Mind’. There are many more.