Merle Haggard, Wild Horse Pass Casino, 9/21/12 (VIDEO)
Benjamin Leatherman Merle Haggard performs onstage at Gila River Casino's Wild Horse Pass last night.
Merle Haggard @ Wild Horse Pass Casino | Friday, September 21, 2012
We pity the grim reaper on the day he comes to collect the soul of Merle Haggard, because the iconic country musician won't be going anywhere without putting up a major fight.
Without a speck of hyperbole, Haggard is a legitimate badass, a bonafide rebel, and the last of country music's true outlaws. He's got a rowdy and criminal past, including raising hell in his youth, doing time for robbery and escaping from prison. Haggard also one of country's living legends, who helped redefine the genre in the 1960s and has influenced the likes of Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, and Shooter Jennings.
So its no surprise that the 75-year-old got a standing ovation from a raucous, sold-out crowd when he took the stage at the Wild Horse Pass Casino's Ovations Live! showroom on Friday night.
Benjamin Leatherman Noel Haggard, who opened up for his papa last night at Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chander.
Despite his advancing age, Haggard is a still a scrapper who's kicked lung cancer in the balls, continues to make records while constantly touring, and is infamously outspoken in his criticism of both politics and the current state of country music.
Such contentious topics didn't come up in his stage patter during the concert, however, as Haggard preferred instead to reminisce and crack humorous rejoinders in between songs. Even when he plugged his merch booth in the back of the showroom it was funny.
"We've got some records available over there that are disguised as CDs," he joked. "There might also be some 8-tracks for those of you who are older. And I see a lot of old people out in the audience."
The audience - consisting equally of gray-haired types (who probably have been listening to the musician since the heyday of 8-track tapes) and some far-younger western shirt-wearing brigade and rockabilly cats - laughed at his quips and got plenty noisy through the entire evening, even during a brief three-song opening set by his son Noel Haggard.
They hooted and hollered whenever he trotted out ditties like "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?" or "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down," or clapped and waved hands as if they were at an old fashioned tent revival with Haggard as the preacher.