05/19/06

By DAVE FERMAN
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER

FORT WORTH - After a life punctuated by so many missed concerts that he long ago earned the nickname No Show, Texas native George Jones has recently settled into a groove that finds him, at 74, a model of consistency.

Like his concerts in 2002 and 2003, his show Friday night at Bass Hall was slick, smooth and graced by the pinpoint efficiency of his six-man Jones Boys band, and a catalog of hits that spans more than five decades.

Follow up:

For more than 75 minutes and 20 songs, Jones moved briskly through some of his oldest hits, such as the opening Why Baby Why and The Race Is On to signature songs from the ’60s and ’70s, including She Thinks I Still Care, to more recent fare, such as the feisty, set-closing I Don’t Need No Rockin’ Chair. Along the way, he also tossed in gospel (Tom T. Hall’s Me and Jesus Got Our Own Thing Going), his homage to military veterans (50,000 Names) and a trio of old-time fiddle-based instrumentals.

And he made it all look and sound so easy. Jones has been country’s greatest vocalist (on that, I’ll accept no argument) since at least the mid-’60s.

Jones has had excellent recent records, and he still puts on generous shows like the one Friday. The man remains a vital voice in country music, the antithesis of the sad, wrecked relic he could have been.

GRADE: A

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