Concerts

Merle Haggard, Wild Horse Pass Casino, 9/21/12 (VIDEO)

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Despite his advancing age, Haggard is a still a scrapper who's kicked lung cancer in the balls, continues to make records while constantly touring, and is infamously outspoken in his criticism of both politics and the current state of country music.

Such contentious topics didn't come up in his stage patter during the concert, however, as Haggard preferred instead to reminisce and crack humorous rejoinders in between songs. Even when he plugged his merch booth in the back of the showroom it was funny.

"We've got some records available over there that are disguised as CDs," he joked. "There might also be some 8-tracks for those of you who are older. And I see a lot of old people out in the audience."

The audience - consisting equally of gray-haired types (who probably have been listening to the musician since the heyday of 8-track tapes) and some far-younger western shirt-wearing brigade and rockabilly cats - laughed at his quips and got plenty noisy through the entire evening, even during a brief three-song opening set by his son Noel Haggard.

They hooted and hollered whenever he trotted out ditties like "Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?" or "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down," or clapped and waved hands as if they were at an old fashioned tent revival with Haggard as the preacher.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.