George Jones

TCC Music Hall, Tuesday, Feb. 7

There were a few empty seats at the George Jones show at the TCC Music Hall--perhaps because of the slightly pricey tickets. But even for those who couldn't easily summon the funds, it would have been worth the $60 just to hear him sing "He Stopped Loving Her Today." As it was, he did about 20-25 songs over the course of two hours, with some of the biggies included in a medley. The set included classics as well as lesser-known songs, plus some of the George and Tammy duets and even gospel.

It is nothing short of astounding that George Jones--with his penchant for reckless living and debauchery--has survived, reasonably healthy, to arrive at a graceful maturity. The fact that he can still tour is amazing. But what is miraculous is that he still has that voice. Every bit of richness, resonance and emotional range is still there. His voice is an instrument of extreme soulfulness capable of transmitting the deepest sorrow, and for this, he ranks as the greatest country singer of all time. Heck, along with Otis Redding, I'd say he's one of the greatest singers, period.

His band, the Jones Boys, started off the show promptly at 7:30 p.m., with the houselights still up. They were joined by the two backup singers, priming the audience for Jones' arrival, which netted a standing ovation (of course). He opened with "Why Baby Why," and after that, it was simply great song after great song. He's had so many hits, there is no way he could cram them all into one show. His rendition of "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?," accompanied by images of country music icons living and deceased, was particularly moving, especially in light of Jones' advanced age (he's 74, and has been recording for 50 years now). It also illustrated how dreary the state of modern country music has become. His band comprised excellent musicians, a lean six pieces, a few of whom have been with Jones for a matter of decades. The stage lights didn't even change until the last couple numbers--anything other than a simple frame for that voice would have been unnecessary.

He closed with "I Don't Need Your Rocking Chair" and left the stage without an encore. I feel blessed to have witnessed the sublime greatness of a true legend. This was one of the finest shows I've ever seen.