Download/Listen to: Bartender’s Blues
Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, FL
October 17, 2010
“Y’all going to George Jones?” the dude in the bizarrely striped shirt whooped at us. Well, yeah, why else would we be here on a Sunday? As he disappeared from view, he said, “I heard the Possum done got tore up last night and might not be here!”
Now that’s the power of myth! Poor George Jones is 81 years old and people still breathlessly wonder whether he’s going to live up to his hellraiser image, now several decades distant. So not only is George Jones one of the most soulful singers in country music, he’s also Nashville’s very own Sid Vicious… who made it to old age. Heh.
Given the sight of a white-haired Jones gingerly touching his throat throughout the night, it’s clear that drinking marathons aren’t in the cards tonight, even though he playfully promises that he “might just play till 2 or 3 tonight!” Sadly it’s not the case, but Jones still puts on a hell of a show, even at the age where most of us would just be glad to stay up until “Matlock” comes on at 7:00. A George Jones show circa 2010 is a curious mix of Nashville professionalism– female co-vocalist serving as an MC, dutifully reminding us to buy some damn merchandise, band of slick pros who could probably play this stuff in their sleep– with interjections of chaos gladly provided by the man who used to be called “No Show Jones.”
He whoops it up a little too much, he gets in his digs at lily-white modern country radio (decrying the absence of drinking songs and cheating songs), ribs his backing band, and tells a few stories that maybe weren’t agreed upon when making the setlist. The set itself is what you’d expect: an obligatory gospel number, a couple from “the new album,” and giganto hits like “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “A Picture of Me Without You,” and “Bartender’s Blues.” It’s all good fun, and even though the show is over before 9pm (!!) with no encore, no one feels gypped.