Kenny Rogers Brings The Merriment on Christmas and Hits Through The Years Tour
In the fall of 1981, Kenny Rogers released his very first seasonal album, appropriately titled Christmas. Since then, the Country Music Hall of Fame member has released successful holiday follow-ups in 1984 (Once Upon A Christmas, with Dolly Parton), 1989 (Christmas In America) and 1996 (The Gift). Suffice to say, nowadays the season and Rogers seem to go together in a magical way. In an effort to promote that first album 30 years ago, Rogers embarked on a successful Christmas tour that has become a yearly tradition ever since.
Sunday, the iconic performer brought his Christmas and Hits Through The Years show to The Ford Center in downtown Evansville, Ind. Rogers took to the stage with a rollicking version of his 1978 chart-topper "Love Or Something Like It" (one of just a handful of his hits that he had a hand in writing) and quickly had fans singing along with one hit after another. He featured Phil Vassar's "It's A Beautiful Life," which kept fans tapping their toes, before taking those in attendance back to the days of The First Edition --- the band that Rogers served as front man for from 1967-1975. He performed a pair of the band's biggest hits: "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" and Mickey Newbury's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)." On the latter, Rogers joked to the audience about the psychedelic lyrics of the song, calling it the "biggest acid trip that you would have for the rest of your life."
With the show split into two parts, Rogers simply couldn't do all of his hit singles. But he tried to give fans the essential hits from his multi-genre catalog: "Through The Years," "Lady," "You Decorated My Life" and "Daytime Friends" were all included in the set list, as were concert staples "Lucille" and "The Gambler," which the singer performed in front of a video montage of clips from his successful TV-movie franchise of the same name. He closed out his hits set with his two Hot 100 chart-toppers, 1980's "Lady" and 1983's "Islands In The Stream," as he threw out his trademark tambourines to the wildly receptive audience.
After a brief intermission, the Christmas segment of the show began -- with co-host Linda Davis leading a group of children on the Rogers/Parton duet "With Bells On." Rogers soon re-emerged on stage with a mix of holiday favorites old and new, including "O Holy Night," "Silent Night," and "Joy To The World," which featured vocals from a local choir in Evansville -- a longtime Rogers tradition in adding to the local flavor of the venue. He and Davis performed a soulful version of the Mark Lowry/Buddy Greene chestnut "Mary, Did You Know," which could very well be Rogers' signature tune of the season -- having recorded it with Wynonna in 1996 for The Gift. Another highlight was his performance of "That Silent Night," a romantic song of the season that the singer recorded with Jim Brickman on the latter's just-released On A Winter's Night.
All in all, it was another reminder why Kenny Rogers and his music is so undoubtedly ingrained into the fibers of American music. Some people don't have to make huge musical statements to remind you of their stature or their artistry. Kenny Rogers has always been and continues to be one of those artists.
Kenny Rogers Christmas Tour Dates:
Dec. 11 Wheeling, W. Va.
Dec. 12 Van Wert, Ohio
Dec. 13 Wabash, Ind.
Dec. 14 Zanesville, Ohio
Dec. 16 Greenvlle, S.C.
Dec. 17 Richmond, Va.
Dec. 18 Verona, N.Y.
Dec. 19 Uncasville, Conn.
Dec. 20 Jim Thorpe, Pa.
Dec. 21 Norfolk, Va.
Dec. 22 Canton, Ohio
Dec. 23 Westbury, N.Y.