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First Night: Kris Kristofferson

A LONE ranger caught beneath the headlights of a bare Olympia Theatre stage, Kris Kristofferson doesn't care for fancy props or a gigantic banner with his name on it.

There's no band, either. In fact, save for the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar and the swooning back draft of an echoey harmonica, it's all about the man, his lyrics, and that wonderfully experienced vocal.

Indeed, at 74 years of age, he has rarely sounded better. It's clear from the beginning, too, that the Texas-born songwriter cares a great deal for his material and the people to whom it means so much.

A warm, humorous, and thoroughly engaging performer throughout, it doesn't matter how many years have passed since the likes of Me and Bobby McGee was first recorded, or how many times he's realised that "it's over" and that "nobody wins", for what Kris has to offer in the two hours that he stands before us tonight is a touching and often entrancing slideshow of a life spent searching for the perfect song; the perfect rhyme; even the perfect delivery.

What's more, he seems to have unintentionally stumbled across the latter with age; that sweet yet gravelled voice of his adding more and more poignancy to the likes of Help Me Make It Through the Night, Johnny Lobo, and the heart-wrenching For the Good Times.

If it's not the melody that keeps us hooked, it's his colourful wordplay and the ability to bring us right into the heart of every song.

It's an intimate show, but one that serves to highlight the unique value of one of America's few surviving stars of outlaw country.