Willie Nelson’s tour made its annual stop in Los Angeles last night. Willie and family, along with Austin favorites Asleep At The Wheel, played before a packed house at Club Nokia at the L.A. Live complex. The two bands are touring together in support of their recent album, Willie and The Wheel.
Asleep At The Wheel began the evening with their signature western swing. About half-way through their opening set, Nelson joined the band on stage to perform “Bring It On Down To My House,” as well as other numbers from the recent album and his classic, “Pancho & Lefty.”
After a short break and stage reset, Willie returned with his own band (with Ray Benson of AATW sitting in on guitar.) He started his set with “Whiskey River” and with only a couple of momentary breaks to introduce the band, he rolled through 25 other hits including “Crazy” (which he wrote for Patsy Cline,) “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Me & Paul,” and “Beer For My Horses.” Not one to stand for the silliness of walking off only to be called back for an encore, when his set was finished he thanked the audience and waved goodbye as he left the stage.
Willie Nelson seems to tour incessantly and tirelessly, but at this show his 76 year old body seemed to be showing its age a bit. While still in great shape for a man of his years, Willie had a bit of a paunch evident beneath his tight t-shirt which hasn’t been noticeable in previous years. That aside, his voice is as strong as ever, his guitar picking seems to get even better with age, and there’s a gleam in his eye which suggests he’s not stopping any time soon. Nothing lasts forever, though, and this is a show you don’t want to miss. You should probably see Willie Nelson again (or for the first time) as soon as possible.
Willie Nelson and Asleep At The Wheel perform tonight at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks.