Kris Kristofferson September 25, 2010
By Glen Creason
A visit from the exalted Kris Kristofferson to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts is most certainly a cause for celebration. For those who love the lyrics and appreciate a classic song there are few in the land that can satisfy like this septuagenarian singer songwriter. Kristofferson possesses the rare combination of musical composition genius along with a poet’s sensibility and his songs will be listened to in decades to come with an increasing appreciation for his place in American music. Despite spending much of his career acting in motion pictures Kristofferson has put his brilliant mind to music and has created a repertoire that sets a standard for coming writers. While he may have been branded one of the country music outlaws once upon a time he is actually an honors graduate from the esteemed Pomona College and a Rhodes scholar who put his talents into songwriting.
On Saturday at Cerritos the man with the aged-bourbon voice simply demonstrated the greatness of his art by standing before the full house with an acoustic guitar, blues harp and thirty wise and wonderful songs. That voice, aged and mellowed by some full living just seems to fit the material even more than when he made his initial mark in the 70’s. While the evening began with “Shipwrecked in the 80’s” it most certainly was timeless in its messages and a very full two hours in length. It was surprising even to the assembled fans to hear so much of his memorable material. Many of these songs were made famous by other great singers like Janis Joplin, Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings but they sound the very best coming from the master himself. As a matter of fact the most moving moments in several heart aching ballads were when that husky baritone caressed the lower registers, shimmering as they went. At Saturday’s show he gave us his trademark ballads of lost love like “Bobby McGee,” “Loving Her Was Easier,” “Jody and the Kid,” and “Darby’s Castle” that made you remember your own bittersweet romantic regrets. There were his C&W tinged confessionals like “Help Me Make it Through the Night,” “Kiss the World Goodbye,” “the Law is For Protection of the People,” Sunday Morning Coming Down” and the eerie “Beat the Devil” that sounded so fine coming from those well-toned pipes. Songs that told stories abounded including “Casey’s Last Ride.” “Johnny Lobo,” “Billy Dee,” and Duvalier’s Dream” alongside the stunningly powerful “Song for Layla Al-Attar and Los Olivadios.” Still, the show is not all regret and remorse evidenced by “Here Comes That Rainbow Again” and four incredibly moving songs about family that were particularly shining jewels on this nights. “Daddy’s Song,” “Thank You for a Life” “Moment of Forever” and the tear inducing “the Circle from Here to Forever” that he dedicated to his children could have carried the two-hour show on their lonesome. The concert at Cerritos lacked any pretension and the material was set forward in a manner focusing on the song’s meanings that allowed the rapt house to savor the full meaning these great songs. That was more than enough.