Some people have all the luck. Kris Kristofferson is one of them. Not only can he sing, but his remarkable repertoire puts him among the best and most prolific songwriters of the past 100 years.
His songs ‘Me and Bobby McGee’, ‘Help Me Make It Through the Night’, ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, and ‘For the Good Times’, all chart-topping hits from the 1970s on, helped redefine and redeem country music songwriting.
He had all the luck last night: an appreciative audience on the banks — literally — of the River Lee who applauded, cheered, and hollered their appreciation of a live performance by a living legend. Unlike Liam Gallagher, who was playing Cork al fresco at the same time, Kristofferson had a marquee to sing in that kept out the rain and wind — just about — and his band, The Strangers, to keep everything, and everyone, humming along.
He made some of his own luck too, starting on the button at 8pm and, with a short break, giving the capacity crowd two hours of unforgettable music.
There is a reason why Kristofferson is a silver-haired, silver-tongued legend. He seduces as much as he entertains and the Cork audience gave it holly, singing along with gusto as he picked his way through a catalogue of his most memorable songs.
“You guys are good,” he told them, encouraging and even louder chorus.
His voice is darker and deeper these days, and there were times when he had trouble with the lower register but, overall, he nailed every lyric with that instantly recognisable baritone growl.
There were love songs galore, songs of loss, laments, and jauntier ones like his 1970 classic ‘Best of All Possible Worlds’, a song about a drunken night in jail, which has a line about everybody being “so concerned about my health”.
A couple of years ago there were, indeed, some serious concerns about his health. Apparently in the grips of dementia, he was losing his memory but, luck was with him again. He was finally diagnosed with a treatable case of Lyme Disease.
This gave the 82-year-old Texan a new lease of life, one he is enjoying to the full. Tomorrow he heads to Dublin for two sold-out concerts before playing Hyde Park in London on July 7, followed by a tour of Australia in the autumn. Not bad going for an octogenarian.