What would Willie do? And the Willie I reference is, of course, Willie Nelson. The Wednesday after Memorial Day this year, we trudged out to the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheater to see the Last Outlaw Standing – King Willie, himself. Now 89 years old, Willie is still going and still draws good crowds.
Will the weather win?
On this particular night, it was raining intermittently with a chance for severe thunderstorms, yet the Zoo Amp was virtually full. The crowds wanted to see Willie. There were two opening acts Charley Crockett, who I really want to see more of some time was first. Then, Lukas Nelson/Promise of the Real, Willie’s son. We tried to wait out the ran and missed Charley and caught the tail end of Lukas’s set.
About 15 minutes after Lukas ended, Willie’s bus came pulling up behind the stage, and you could feel the excitement go across the crowd. Shortly thereafter, Trigger, Willie’s signature Martin guitar was brought out on stage. Then came the moment we had all been waiting for as Willie was walking out on stage and waving at the crowd.
Short But Awesome Set List
Taking a seat center stage, Willie was between Lukas on his right and youngest son Micah on his left. As usual, a huge Texas flag was the backdrop. Then, Willie launched into staple opener, the Johnny Bush penned “Whisky River.” The crowd went crazy, and so did I.
I’ve probably seen Willie & Family in concert 15 times. This, however, was the first time I’d seen him since his sister and longtime band mate Bobbie Nelson passed away. And, I also believe this is the first time I have seen him without long time drummer/road king Paul English. While the band was still good, I definitely could feel the void left by these two.
Willie’s guitar playing was still good, though not as sharp due to age and probably the weather, as well. I can tell you this, I did not care one bit. Fans can feel the energy coming from Willie, and it is all pure love.
It was a short set due to severe weather causing the concert to be shut down. The setlist included Bob Wills cover “Stay A Little Longer”, which was followed by Nelson favorites “Still is Still Moving to Me,” “Bloody Mary Morning,” and “I Never Cared For You.”
Lukas Nelson then played the cover song “Texas Flood” which was fitting due to the weather at the Zoo Amp. Son Micah then played a tune he had penned based on something Willie had said, “If I Die When I’m High, I’ll Be Halfway to Heaven.” This song was a funny, irreverent take on Willie’s passion for herbal remedies and provided some levity to the brooding storm coming overhead.
The concert was closed out with favorite “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” followed by “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” The last song was “On the Road Again,” which was cut short about halfway through when security came to the stage, as the thunderstorm moved closer, and Willie said, “We’re sorry but they say we gotta go. We love you.” And, then came the mass, muddy exodus up the hill and to the parking lots.
Even though the weather did not cooperate and the show was cut short, it was well worth it. I hate to think this way, but you never know when it will be the last time. We have lost many legends in the last few years. When he comes around again, I’ll be the first one in line. It always makes you feel good to see Willie. I started this blog by saying, “What would Willie do?” I can tell you, he would show up and have a good time. Which is what I did, and what I think you should do too the next time you are able to see live music.