Hank Williams Jr.
Seneca Allegany Casino
Saturday July 1, 2017
Review: Dave Leary
Photos: Joseph Suto
There’s no denying Hank Williams Jr’s place in country music history. As the son of arguably the most influential artist in the history of the genre, he had quite a legacy to follow. By blazing his own trail, he became a legend in his own right. So I was looking forward to seeing him in concert for the first time. I had also never seen an outdoor show at Seneca Allegany Casino. There was a pretty large crowd, many of them tailgating, something you don’t generally see at the casino. A heavy downpour right around the scheduled start time delayed things for a bit as people headed for cover and then headed for their seats after the rain stopped.
After about a 20 minute delay, a video came on the screens set up on either side of the stage. The late Merle Haggard talking about Hank Jr being country music royalty and the impact he has had. His theme for “Monday Night Football”, which will be brought back for the upcoming season, was called “the greatest TV theme song of all time” by Jimmy Kimmel in the video.
The show began with “Are You Ready for the Country” from his most recent release, 2016’s It’s About Time. Wearing a baseball hat that said “ICON”, Hank and his band tore right into it. From there, he played mostly older songs like “Dinosaur”and his dad’s classic “Kaw-Liga” which he covered in 1980. The latter may be a bit dated but it sounded great and showcased Hank on fiddle. Another newer song was “Keep the Change” from 2012 which talks about “the United Socialist States of America”. With a new President in charge since the song was written, he said “not anymore” after this line. Many in the crowd clearly agreed with the sentiment of this tune.
Williams didn’t address the crowd until a few songs in. “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” got many in the crowd out of their seats. He later sat at the piano and mentioned some of the musicians who would come to the house when he was young, like Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles. This led into a medley that included Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin” Goin’ On”. Later on, his band left the stage and he sat down with his guitar. After another short medley, it was time for “A Country Boy Can Survive”. The crowd had clearly been waiting for this one.
Not surprisingly, “Family Tradition” was the final song. Hank let the audience sing most of the chorus and they were up to the task. After a drum solo and some jamming by the band, the show was over. It seemed like there would be a least one more song after that but the guitarist thanked everyone for coming and said “Hope to see you next time”.
While his voice still sounded strong (he is 68) and his band was very good, this show left me wanting more. Even for a casino show, it seemed short (about 75 minutes). “Family Tradition”, in particular, sounded rushed. Still, his loyal fans (I saw a few t-shirts from tours from the ‘80s) didn’t seem to mind.
Are You Ready for the Country (Neil Young cover)
I’m for Love
Move It On Over / Mind Your Own Business
Just Call Me Hank
Keep the Change
All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight
On the Hunt / Waiting on the Bus
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On
All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down / Theme From Dukes of Hazard (Good Ol Boys) / I Walk the Line / Redneck Paradise (Acoustic medley)
A Country Boy Can Survive
Born to Boogie