With 30 albums to his name, including three with fellow outlaws Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, triple Grammy Award winner Kris Kristofferson is one of the most respected and prolific artists of the last five decades. His status as a songwriter is even more astounding, logging more than 450 credits cut by the illustrious likes of Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tina Turner, Sammy Davis Jr., Gladys Knight & The Pips, Kenny Rogers and The Man In Black on down, all while maintaining a pretty prominent Golden Globe Award-winning acting career that continues to this very day.
“Jesus Was A Capricorn” may have been plucked from the previous century, but the line “most of us hate anything that we don’t understand” couldn’t be more appropriate for 2017 and earned a massive cheer.
Now 80, Kristofferson might not look exactly like the bare-chested beau of Barbra Streisand from “A Star Is Born” anymore, but he still sports a movie star’s smile and managed to claim a sip or two from the fountain of youth. Even so, his voice was noticeably weathered during the third of four non-consecutive sold out appearances at City Winery, though at least the singer/songwriter was the first to point out his imperfections on numerous occasions.
The solo acoustic evening was divided into two acts that cumulatively hovered around 30 tunes with one of his most iconic reflections, “Me And Bobby McGee,” arriving shockingly early in the first half. It was surely a diamond for many, but after struggling with some of the vocals and a portion of the harmonica part, he was quick to admit with a smile “that was terrible” to a forgiving round of applause.
Given such esteemed stature and the fact that he’s one of the few left standing from his generation, Kristofferson could do no wrong with the respectful crowd, and if anything, the unplugged nature of the show allowed everyone to hear his revered lyrics (and clever impromptu one liners) all the more. “Help Me Make It Through The Night” was one that brought chills to the air, despite the headliner needing to cheekily re-name the final chorus “Help Me Make It Through Tonight.”
He continued unloading many other moving morsels such as “From Here To Forever” (an unconditional promise to always support his children) and one of country music’s true textbook narratives “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again).” Following a brief intermission, Kristofferson returned a bit sturdier, especially when he got to the spiritually-infused imagery of “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33” and observed a man of many contradictions perhaps better than anyone’s ever attempted.
“Jesus Was A Capricorn” may have been plucked from the previous century, but the line “most of us hate anything that we don’t understand” couldn’t be more appropriate for 2017 and earned a massive cheer. Many also joined in for “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” gave an emotional standing ovation following “Why Me” and listened intently as the encore “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends” provided a bittersweet coda to Kristofferson’s brilliant way with words.
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For additional information on Kris Kristofferson, visit KrisKristofferson.com.
Upcoming concert highlights at City Winery include Al Stewart featuring The Empty Pockets (Mar. 23); Joey Alexander Trio (Mar. 24); Rodney Crowell (Mar. 25); Jim Messina (Mar. 26); M. Ward (Mar. 27-28); The Shades & Brendan Fletcher (Mar. 30); Candlebox (Mar. 31); Wanda Jackson (Apr. 1); Kris Kristofferson (Apr. 2); Joshua James (Apr. 3); Shawn Mullins (Apr. 5); Rufus Wainwright (Apr. 6-7); Amel Larrieux (Apr. 8); Crystal Bowersox (Apr. 9); Dave Mason (Apr. 10-11); Shane Koyczan (Apr. 12); Emily King (Apr. 13); Marc Cohn (Apr. 14-15) and Timothy B. Schmit (Apr. 16 & 18). For additional details, visit CityWinery.com/Chicago.