Willie Nelson in LA

I saw Willie Nelson at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles two weekends ago. He was great as always. I love the casual way he and the Family play songs. They’ll seamlessly merge from one into another. Having seen him several times now, I recognize some of the changes. But they still throw in new ones from time to time.

At this show, they mixed up a lot of the catalog that I’ve seen them play. And still managed to dig up some chestnuts I hadn’t heard them play before. More than any other musician I can think of, Willie embodies what I’d like to be doing: comfortably playing through a large catalog of songs with minimal instrumentation and no big, dumb stage production.

Unfortunately for the music loving audience member, the LA crowd was the worst I’ve experienced at a Willie show. They seemed to think they were seeing Toby Keith. The incessant whistling really got on my nerves. They even did it during quiet numbers like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” During “Beer for my Horses” (a Toby Keith song appropriately), when Willie gestured to the crowd to sing the hook, they screamed “Beer for my horses!” like they were at a Motley Crue show.

I’ve seen Willie 4 times in 4 different cities in the past year and it’s always interesting to see how the crowd is different. It’s also cool to see how Willie mixes up the set. I don’t know how much he does based on the feedback he’s getting from the audience but it’s always different.