Kenny Rogers – SSE Arena, Belfast
One of the most influential country superstars, and member of The Country Music Hall of Fame, in Kenny Rogers played at the SSE Arena earlier this week. With a career in the music industry spanning over six decades and the recipient of multiple awards, including Grammys and American Music Awards, it was a night never to be forgotten as we said farewell to one of the largest household names in country music.
Support came from Charlie Worsham, a young artist worth checking out as he was a clearly accomplished guitar player with a stunning voice. Mississippi in July was an excellently written song and showed that he had the attributes of the ‘old-time’ country musicians.
Kenny Rogers presented his final tour The Gambler’s Last Deal to his fans whom had filled the SSE Arena in Belfast. He kicked off his set with Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town. A track which was originally written by Mel Tillis about a paralysed war veteran, however it was made famous by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition in 1969. Following this, and in the true spirit of any country music concert, he engaged the whole audience by explaining to them why he would be spending most the concert sitting down. This was due to a recent knee replacement or as he referred to it- ‘getting old’. However, despite being 78, Rodgers put on one of the most captivating performances I have ever experienced in the SSE Arena.
The aim of this last tour as explained ‘The Gambler’ himself, was to envisage the journey from the start of his career to his peak. Hence, he treated the audience to a track which was written during his time with The Scholars from his younger days. He even explained the irony behind the rockabilly group’s name due to the fact that they were all ‘straight D’ students as he put it. However, he did accredit this group with him learning to play guitar.
It was at this point, his special guest Linda Davis joined him onstage performing for a chilling duet of It’s Only A Paper Moon. Subsequently we found out that Linda’s daughter is the lead singer of Lady Antebellum. Following her departure from the stage, he played a variety of tracks showing the development of his career which included But You Know I Love You from his time with the group; The First Editions. Other songs played included Tell It All Brother, Lucille and USA for Africa hit from 1985; We Are The World. This track was written by Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie however it featured Kenny Rogers alongside some of music’s biggest legends in the twentieth century.
Linda re-joined the stage in order to assist the tribute which was being paid to one of Roger’s long-time friends – Dottie West. They covered the hits Everytime Two Fools Collide and Anyone Who Isn’t Me Tonight both in perfect harmony. Throughout the show, tribute was paid to a variety of musicians known by Rogers, both dead and alive. This highlighted his diversity and showed how many people had been a part of his success and his gratitude towards this.
Towards the close of the show, we heard some of his biggest hits. These included ‘The Gambler’ which had the whole crowd on their feet singing along and also the iconic Islands in the Steam which the whole crowd had been eagerly anticipating. Despite referring to himself as older now, it’s clear that none of his talent has disappeared throughout the years whatsoever.
It was a spectacular moment to be a part of Kenny Roger’s farewell tour and see his last show in Belfast. The timeless superstar certainly put on a performance and it was wonderful to be treated to an overview of his whole career. A true legend of country music and, also, a complete gentleman.