Kris Kristofferson - Palais Theatre - 20 August 2005

Photo by John Karpik

On the last night of his extended Australian tour the lone Highwayman Kris Kristofferson, songwriter, performer and famed actor took on his biggest challenge in playing the largest venue of his solo tour. Just a singer, a guitar and harmonica is basic, but effective for evoking the latent troubadour in the artist. Images and thoughts for this writer ranged from the poetry of Townes Van Zandt to the renegade country and defiance of David Alan Coe.

Arriving late after suffering a pre show dinner disaster at the new Espy kitchen, we took in the enormity of the loneliness of the solo artist from the back of the stalls.

Standing alone, and having to project into such a space, Kristofferson shone back sending shards of reflected light from the guitar frets throughout the dark stage spaces of the historic theatre.

Assuming our seats a lot closer to the front with the help of an usher I soon realised what an honour we were being given to hear the writer of such monumental songs as, Me and Bobby McGee, Sunday Morning Coming Down and Help Me Make it Through the Night, perform them in the way that they were probably created only with a voice and acoustic guitar before becoming hits for other artists.

But being alone on stage was only part of the bravery of the performer. After becoming a major screen actor and he would be forgiven for assuming the conservative nature of Hollywood or even Nashville for that matter Kristofferson has maintained his rage. He has continued to fight and be outspoken on social justice issues, the downtrodden, the improvised and the marginalised. Songs such as They Killed Him, Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down and In The News (God is On Our Side) still have poignancy in these current times.

It wasn't all protests and political issues, pessimism and hopelessness. There was genuine joy and humour throughout the theatre and maybe a bit of love in the air from the appreciative audience. There were songs of redemption and hope such as Here Comes That Rainbow Again

Nobody minded that the guitar playing wasn't slick and flashy, that the words to a song were forgotten. Here was a legend amongst us that was giving us another opportunity to see him and say thanks for the memories. He made it possible to have memories of honky tonk heroes such as Waylon and The Man in Black, both of whom we will never see again.

Photo by John Karpik

Kristofferson gave us everything he had on the night and must have been spent after two hours on stage and coming at the end of a long tour. He made us laugh, cheer and clap along and it really was The Best of All Possible Worlds.

Review by Peter O'Keefe 2005

top / back to articles