LINCOLN — Willie Nelson is still at it.
Or as he’d say, “still not dead.” And the pace of the 84-year-old country legend “would kill a normal man.”
Wednesday’s sold-out show at the Pinewood Bowl Theater showed good old Willie’s still got it as he played late into the night, well past his typical set time.
The capacity crowd was game, singing the chorus to “On the Road Again” and diving to nab one of the signature red bandanas he pulled from his head and tossed into the audience.
Nelson’s set capped a night of fantastic, classic country music with sets from both Robert Earl Keen and Dwight Yoakam.
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Willie Nelson performed for a sold-out crowd at the Pinewood Bowl.
Willie Nelson performed with his band at Pinewood Bowl in Lincoln in June.
Country legend Willie Nelson performs at the Pinewood Bowl Theater in Lincoln on Wednesday.
Dwight Yoakam performed with his band at Pinewood Bowl in Lincoln.
Dwight Yoakam performed with his band at Pinewood Bowl in Lincoln.
Robert Earl Keen performed with his band at Pinewood Bowl in Lincoln.
A Texas country songwriter, Keen and his band played an hour full of songs such as “Feelin’ Good Again,” “Gringo Honeymoon” and “The Road Goes On Forever.” They’re excellent country songs that aren’t exactly smash hits but may be familiar to country fans. They should be familiar with everyone.
A Kentucky boy by way of California, Yoakam once again delivered a set similarly full of honky tonk filtered through Hollywood.
Yoakam ran through a set that included tributes to Merle Haggard and covers of Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley as well as his own hits such as “1,000 Miles,” “Guitars, Cadillacs” and “Fast As You.”
You can’t go wrong with Yoakam even if, like me, you’ve seen him several times. The singer and his band are always incredible.
Keen, Yoakam and Nelson all mentioned how happy they were to be together on the bill, which is one of the best I’ve seen on a country show.
“It’s nice to be out here with Willie,” Yoakam said. “Thank you very much for coming out and hanging out with Robert Earl and myself.”
Yoakam even played a few bars of Nelson’s “Me and Paul” before joking that he didn’t want to get fired for doing so.
Nelson must have enjoyed the joke because he played “Me and Paul,” a song he hasn’t played recently, during his own set.
As he picked out melodies in his signature, enigmatic style on his trusty guitar Trigger, Nelson led his longtime band through a series of his classic songs as well as lots of covers and tributes to Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Tom T. Hall and Hank Williams.
Those tunes plus “Whiskey River,” “Beer For My Horses,” “Always On My Mind” and others are classic country, and Nelson performed them admirably.
Even Keen and Yoakam enjoyed themselves.
As he kicked off a finale with “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” the pair of fellow country stars joined him to close out the show.
None of them could quit smiling.
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