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Hank Williams III at The Whiskey (Calgary, AB)

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The I last time I saw Hank Williams was a little under three years ago and the show drew what I still remember to be one of the wildest crowds I’ve ever been a part of. While I can’t say the same for this show (which probably had as much to do with the ticket prices as it did the overzealous meat-head “security” that lurked over the crowd for the entire performance) what impressed me the most this time around was the absolute precision that the band displayed on stage. From the opening moments of “Straight to Hell” to the the chest-rupturing wails from Gary Lindsey during the night’s Hellbilly set (not to mention Assjack), even with what seems to be a continual turnover of the occasional band member (the band sported a new bassist and fiddler since last I’d seen them) the group never missed a beat.

Working their way through a series of songs that have long-since become standards in the set—”Thrown Out of the Bar,” “Smoke & Wine,” “I Don’t Know,” “Pills I Took”—Williams and the band also threw in a few covers that changed up the pace of things along the way, working in some David Allan Coe and a rendition of the final single that his grandfather ever released during his lifetime: “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.”

The set continued on with an onslaught of familiar tracks that continued to engross the crowd, “The Devil is My Friend,” “3 Shades of Black,” “Country Heroes,” “Not Everybody Likes Us,” “Crazed Country Rebel,” “Punch Fight Fuck,” “Dick in Dixie,” “Crazed Country Rebel,” and “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” to name a few.

One of the keystones to Williams’ shows has been a song that criticizes the powers that be within the Nashville music scene for their refusal of Hank Williams Sr. into the Grand Ole Opry, “The Grand Ole Opry Ain’t So Grand No More.” With the recent disaster in the city, the flooding consuming much of the Opry and the surrounding area, it was a classy move in omitting the crowd-favorite from the set, no matter how many people may have missed hearing it.

Before sinking into the band’s Hellbilly set, the group romped through “Six Pack of Beer,” “Low Down,” “Legend Of D. Ray White” and the title track from Williams’ most recent album, The Rebel Within. Following a few scattered appearances throughout the night, Lindsey returned to the stage as Williams and the band geared up for the second part of their performance, cranking “Go Fuck You,” “Prayin’ For A Heart Attack,” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” which was the highlight of the set—if you’ve ever heard Gary Lindsay go at this song, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

While the inept crew at the club neglected to change the marquee outside—the sign still reflected the Misfits’ show, or depending on how you look at it: the Jerry Only show, that had taken place five days earlier—Williams and the Damn Band never once slowed down or stumbled, delivering some of the finest country music on the planet to an enraptured crowd in city that prides itself on its cowboy-loving heritage.