Even without Willie Nelson, Outlaw Music Festival’s performance at PNC Bank Center for the Arts was satisfying


dylan review

Lukas Nelson performs June 30 at the PNC Bank Center for the Arts in Holmdel.

Not only will Lukas Nelson be filling in for his legendary father, Willie Nelson, who is too ill to perform, he will also be performing at The PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on June 30. Headlining the Outlaw Music Festival Tour. He also had to follow two other legends: Bob Dylan, who performed second to last; and Robert Plant, who preceded Dylan with Alison Krauss Collaborative performance. (Act 4 “Celise” opens.)

It was a solid show – as you can imagine, a true celebration of Willie Nelson’s music – and the promised “special guests” (plural) turned out to be Edie Brickell ( Odd number) . But inevitably, it felt a bit anticlimactic, with many attendees opting to exit early to beat the traffic rather than stay until the end.

Lucas, 35, has a raspy voice that at times sounds strikingly like his father, and his raw, exploratory guitar solos more than embody his father’s spirit. He usually fronts his own excellent band, Promise of the Real. But at the Outlaw Music Festival, he has been performing with his father’s Family band, mainly playing songs written by or related to his father. (The tour began on June 21 and continues through September 20. Wiley, 91, is not yet well enough to participate but is expected to return soon; he will not be at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass., tonight The show has been confirmed to return in Camden before 4th July.

Lucas opened the set with his father’s traditional opener “Whiskey River”; followed by the equally upbeat “Stay a Little Longer”; also performed “You Were Always on My Mind”, “Georgia on My Mind”, “Funny How Time” Slips Away”/”Crazy”/”Night Life” remix (Watch the video below) etc. But he also threw in a few of his own songs — “Just Outside of Austin,” “(Forget About) Georgia,” “Find Yourself” — which helped keep the scene from looking too much like what you might see Something that comes from a pure act of tribute.

House band guitarist Waylon Payne sang lead vocals on Merle Haggard’s “Workin’ Man Blues.” Smiling and singing with enthusiasm, Brickell closed the show with “Remember Me,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “On the Road Again” and the gospel-tinged medley “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” . and “I’ll fly away.” Lucas then closed the show with a gorgeous solo version of the brooding “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.”

Bob Dylan with drummer Jim Keltner at the PNC Bank Arts Center.

I met Bob Dylan at NJPAC in Newark in November. Surprisingly, one of the songs from the Newark show, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” made its way into Holmdel’s show — as a rollicking piano piece Percussion as the closing song. And Dylan—who stuck to piano throughout the show (and a bit of harmonica)—certainly didn’t deliver a “greatest hits”-style show for the festival crowd. (Not that anyone expected this.)

Accompanied by top-notch drummer Jim Keltner (whose credits include two Traveling Wilburys albums and Dylan’s original version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”), he opened the show with one of his signature songs, “Highway 61 Revisited.” Later, he did play the ominous “Song of the Thin Man” and the slow, thoughtful “A Simple Twist of Fate” (with guest harmonica player Mickey Raphael of the Willie Nelson Band). But he also performed some fairly obscure songs from his catalog (“Shooting Star,” “Under a Red Sky,” “After Midnight”) and a bunch of covers (Chuck Berry’s rousing “Little Queenie ”, Fleetwood’s melancholic “Mr. Blue,” the Grateful Dead’s stunning ballad “Stella Blue,” the truck-driving anthem “Six Days on the Road”).

Frankly, I liked him better when he was at NJPAC in November. But that may have more to do with the setting than with the quality of the music: he really should be seen in a theater full of attentive fans, rather than in a festival setting with lots of people talking and moving around. Even if nothing else, his warm embrace of “little Queenie” (Watch the video below) and “Six Days on the Road,” two songs I never thought I’d see him perform that I’m glad I got the chance to see.

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant at the PNC Bank Center for the Arts.

The odd couple who released two albums together in 2017 and 2021 had a bad day: it rained heavily during the show , drenching spectators on the lawn of the PNC Bank Center for the Arts (but not affecting most seats within the venue’s coverage area). But as far as I’m concerned, they delivered the most amazing set of the day. They may be two unique singers with completely different styles, but their voices somehow work well together. Blues-based Plant always seems to be striving toward some kind of transcendence; Krause’s calm, almost otherworldly voice evokes that transcendence in different ways.

Led Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore” is a highlight, with Krauss brilliantly handling the duet recorded by Sandy Denny. She and Plant also performed other songs from Plant’s past (Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” Plant’s 1983 solo single “In the Mood”) as well as throwback rock songs (“Fortune Teller” by Allen Toussaint “, The Everly Brothers), “Gone Gone Gone”, Lucinda Williams’ hit “Can’t Let Go”) and other material, the band consists of guitarist JD McPherson, drummer Jay Bellerose and multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan and other master musicians.

Outlaw Music Festival shared this incredible photo of clouds above the PNC Bank Center for the Arts on Instagram.

When Duncan and Krause have a lengthy fiddle duel on “When the Levee Breaks,” a 1920s blues song that Led Zeppelin recreated in the 1970s, they take it to another place entirely, Duncan drew on his bluegrass roots, and Krause borrowed a hypnotic riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Friends.”

I only got to see the last few songs of Celisse due to heavy traffic on the Garden State Parkway. She performs as a power trio with bassist Sam Arnold and drummer Aaron Steele, bringing her booming voice and fiery guitar to Bill Withers’ “Use Me” and her own ” Crazy won me over.

She had a powerful stage presence that captured the audience’s full attention, even though most people certainly didn’t recognize her, and she was the first act of a long afternoon/evening of music.

The Outlaw Music Festival Tour will include a “4th of July Picnic” at Camden’s Liberty Mortgage Pavilion, starting at 2:30, featuring Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and Alison Klaus and Celis will participate, as will Maren Morris and Mavis Staples and Bowen Young (after “Nashville” actress Claire Bowen and her husband Brandon Yang is the protagonist). For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com.

For more information about the tour, visit blackbirdpresents.com.

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