Kenny Rogers said there are a couple different types of people that come to his show.
The long-time fans, the casual fans and the people with arms crossed they dragged along with them. A magnetic personality, funny and the consummate entertainer, Rogers, for whatever he lacked at hitting the higher notes at 75 years old, proved at his South Okanagan Events Centre show in Penticton on June 12 that he has not lost his ability to connect with an audience.
Just ask Patrick, who Rogers pointed out sitting with arms crossed in the front row under the soft glow of lights that illuminated the front half of the floor. Rogers promised to make him a fan by the end and tossed $10 U.S. bills at him all night long for naming each hit he performed.
“By the end of the night you are going to have $120 to $130 of my money. Tomorrow he is going to be so excited about country music he is going to go out and buy a Garth Brooks album,” Rogers said, which had the audience laughing.
Known for packing a great song and story along with it, Rogers did not disappoint. He teased the crowd suggesting that in Quebec they sang along to Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town better, “and they don’t even speak English.” He also pointed out a woman on the floor using binoculars.
“There is a lady here tonight about 90-feet away with the biggest binoculars I have ever seen. What are you trying to see?” he said joking that it was a violation of his privacy.
As the name of his tour suggests, Through The Years, the Country Music Hall of Fame member took the audience through his 55-year career as a Grammy Award-winning recording artist. He dug into the 1960s tunes, a time when he said he wore sunglasses and looked a bit different. Just then a photo of him on a Just For Men hair dye box popped up on screen, much to the delight of the ladies in the crowd. He sang Something’s Burning, a song he said despite going radio station to radio station they would not play because they said it was “too sexual.” Rogers said he decided to go to England and play it on the Tom Jones TV show, which airs in the U.S.
“I came back and every station had it on.”
Sticking in the 1960s he sang Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In), a song written by Mickey Newbury said to be a warning against the dangers of using LSD. Rogers made sure to review the lyrics after singing his first Top 10 hit on the Billboard charts with the audience.
“They just don’t write songs like that anymore,” he joked.
Rogers then moved into some of his most famous tunes new and old; Have A Little Faith, The Gambler, You Can’t Make Old Friends and We’ve Got Tonight. The man who puts an indelible stamp on songs doesn’t move around with ease anymore and told the crowd he wasn’t going to hide behind one of the curtains waiting for them to call him back for an encore. Instead he jumped right in with Lady and Islands In The Stream, both of which became pop/country/adult contemporary hits for Rogers and duet partner Dolly Parton.
While not everyone left the concert with a fuller wallet and a free concert T-shirt like Patrick did, the audience did leave rich with memories of a remarkable career of a music legend and country music icon.
Opening for Rogers, was Canadian country singer-songwriter Charlie Major who performed an acoustic set with the standout being My Brother And Me.