Willie Nelson - Manchester Apollo

The legend is that when the hole in Willie Nelson's famous guitar, Trigger, means that it can no longer be played, he'll retire from touring. Fortunately, it hasn't happened yet, and as a result, at 77 years young, Willie Nelson - complete with new short haircut - finds himself on the stage in Manchester, receiving a warm reception from the multi-generational crowd.

Willie Nelson

As soon as he opens the set with Whiskey River, you realise that he's still up to the task. Whereas young whippersnappers like Bob Dylan like to play fast and loose with the song arrangements, or have only a fragment left of the voice that fans remember, Nelson is still in decent vocal shape, and his able band provide a laid back country groove to go with it.

Willie Nelson

The gentle humour of the likes of "Me and Paul", "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" sits neatly alongside covers of "Always On My Mind", "I Saw The Light" and "Georgia On My Mind". But the highlight of the evening is a track from his latest album, a rendition of the blues classic "Nobody's Fault But Mine" which finds Willie on surprisingly haunting form.

Willie Nelson

A man of few words between songs, he nevertheless has fun with the crowd. When he throws his bandana into the crowd, an England hat comes back, which he gamely wears for the next song, and at the end of the evening he connects with fans personally - signing autographs and shaking hands, while his band carry on playing behind him. Let's hope that guitar never breaks.

Willie Nelson

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