Now at the age of 82, many artists in their golden age would be looking to put their feet up – not country music legend Kris Kristofferson. The veteran artist is currently out on an extensive UK tour that this evening makes an eagerly anticipated pit stop at Sage Gateshead.
It goes without saying that Kris Kristofferson has achieved so much as a star of both stage and screen for over fifty years. Having had both a successful solo career, as well as performing with some of the greats of the country world including a tenure with The Highwaymen alongside the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson his success is unquestionable.
On this current run, Kristofferson is joined by the late great Merle Haggard’s former band The Strangers. And the three-piece backing group certainly add their magic touch to tonight’s proceedings.
This evening’s concert is very much a show of two halves. With no support, Kristofferson is effectively supporting himself. Of course, when you’ve got a songbook that runs so deep and so vast and a career that has been so fruitful then why not. The Sage Gateshead audience can’t ask for more than this.
Backed by The Strangers, Kristofferson and company take to the stage and kick off the show with “Shipwrecked In The Eighties” and a cover of Haggard’s “That’s The Way Love Goes”, which in turn sets the scene for tonight’s celebration of country music.
Dressed in black, and brandishing his trusty acoustic guitar, Kristofferson is very much the distinguished gentleman of Outlaw Country music.
Throughout his career, many of Kristofferson’s songs have been covered by a wide variety of artists. During the early stages of the set, the crowd are treated to a stunning rendition of the timeless classic “Me and Bobby McGee”. This being a track which was also a hit for the late great Janis Joplin.
Besides the occasional ‘thank you’ Kris largely lets the music do the talking, as he and the band take the crowd through a twenty plus song setlist that covers all of the bases.
Highlights of the first half of the show include the beautiful slice of Americana that is “Here Comes That Rainbow Again”, the up-tempo and witty “Best Of All Possible Worlds” along with hit single “Help Me Make It Through The Night”.
There is also room for many Merle Haggard classics during tonight’s show which are largely led by The Strangers versatile vocalist, guitarist and violinist Scott Joss. The latter of which takes the Gateshead crowd through thoroughly enjoyable renditions of “Okie From Muskogee”, “Daddy Frank (The Guitar Man)” and the incredibly infectious “Ramblin’ Fever”, amongst other. Each number features wonderful vocal harmonies between Joss and Kristofferson.
The second half of the show is rich in classics. As Kristofferson races towards the finish line the crowd are treated to back to back hits including the unmistakable “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” and “For The Good Times” before bringing the show to a close with his Rita Coolidge collaboration by way of “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends”. The aforementioned number resulting in a duly deserved standing ovation from the Gateshead audience.
This evening’s show was a real joy to behold from start to finish. This being a concert that perfectly represents the combined songbooks and the far-reaching musical influence of two of country music’s greatest forces – Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard.