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Hank Jr. is ready for the country

FivePoint Amphitheatre, Irvine, Cal., July 21, 2023

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Hank Williams Jr. opened his show with "Are You Ready for the Country?," a Neil Young cover, and in a rare instance of truth in advertising, this was, indeed, a night of mostly real country music. With a set that mixed his hits with those of his famous father, Mr. Williams did his daddy proud.

Williams played electric guitar, fiddle and then acoustic guitar for an acoustic set where he sat and played sans the rest of the band accompanying him. Here, he played a settled down version of "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)," which he mixed with a cover of Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line," as well as performing the crowd pleasing "A Country Boy Can Survive."

His rowdy early highlights included "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound," in addition to revved up covers of his father's "Move It On Over" in a medley with "Mind Your Own Business." Williams was in strong voice backed by a robust group of players. There were no real setlist surprises, but the big man performed everything enthusiastically. His rowdy friends may be taking it a little easier these days, but Hank Williams Jr. continues to bring the party to the concert stage.

Hank can't ever phone if and when Old Crow Medicine Show precedes him. This act proved again how it may be the most entertaining act touring these days. The group never stops moving, yet all this motion doesn't adversely affect the skilled playing. It seems like everyone on stage can play most any instrument, as members constantly switched instruments throughout. The party song, "Humdinger," summed up the spirit this group created tonight.

Covers included a tribute to Tina Turner (whom they referred to as the queen of rock and roll) with "Proud Mary," which Turner made her own, as well as "Great Balls of Fire." The unit ended daringly with Hank Williams' "I Saw The Light," right before Hank Jr. took the stage. The energy never sagged, from start to finish. It's likely Old Crow Medicine Show makes new fans every time it plays (especially when the opening act) because it's impossible for even newbies to walk away unimpressed.

Clearly, this audience would answer with a hearty yes, if asked if they were ready for the country. The crowd was loud and appreciative, which was fully warrante

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