Monday, May 5
He’s nearly 78 years old. And there he is with just his guitar, a couple of harmonicas to rasp on occasionally and speaking of rasp – his voice. A bit of extra bark, not quite the bite of before. But you’re going to see the songwriter. You are in fact there to see the songs. If you’re there for any other reason – beyond the weight and history and majesty of the music – you’re going to easily find fault in the fluffed lines, in the way the guitar does that busker’s buzz when he steps out of a circular guitar figure, in the way it starts to feel circumlocutory.
None of that matters when you have a songwriter as fine as Kris Kristofferson and songs as fine as those from his 1970s debut, Kristofferson and from the albums that swiftly followed, particularly 1971’s The Silver Tongued Devil and I and 1972’s Jesus Was A Capricorn.
It was all about the songs.
And that’s understandable when you’re dealing with Darby’s Castle and Me and Bobby McGee, Help Me Make It Through The Night and Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again), all somewhat remarkably served up in the first set.
After a short interval there were more great songs – but the second set started to meander at times. Even with a few songs shared with daughter, Kelly.
Yes, it might have been better with a sympathetic instrumentalist, a stronger guitar player perhaps. But there was something mesmeric and so powerful in the vulnerability on offer. If he seemed, at times, at little frail the songs only grew stronger. Sunday Morning Coming Down, obviously. It gets better with the years. And For The Good Times, now a real heartbreaker.
The show was not about ego, not a victory lap, it was a reminder of the power in a great narrative song.
This review appeared today in The Dominion Post – I’ve reposted it here on Off The Tracks due to requests from people wanting to view it online