If you caught last summer's USA Network concert Willie Nelson & Friends: Live and Kickin', you might have noted that Nelson apparently failed to rehearse with any of his big-name guests. But if you really thought about it, you might have realized that the true problem was that Norah Jones, Diana Krall and even Steven Tyler were hopelessly coherent. At age seventy, Nelson still needs singing partners who are as high as the Rockies, loaded as a freight train. How else will they stay on top of Nelson's trademark bizarre-o phrasing?Not to worry! Nelson performs solo on Thursday in Topeka. This is an important visit, folks. Since fellow country outlaw Johnny Cash died in September, the Highwaymen are down to two. (Waylon Jennings died last year.) And Kris Kristofferson doesn't get out much these days. So we're left with Willie and his ancient guitar.
Beyond the last-remnant-of-an-institution thing, the show is worth catching for Nelson's rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." It's not nearly as startling as Cash's handling of Nine Inch Nails, but whereas Cash's "Hurt" revealed an old man looking back, Nelson's "Time After Time" shows an old man who is still changing. It's an evolution best conveyed onstage, alone.
Tickets cost $30 to $55. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, 214 Southeast Eighth Avenue, 785-297-9000.-- Sarah Smarsh
Pink Floyd laser shows never die.
Drug usage increases exponentially during the summer, thanks to the warmth of the outdoors and the long hours of amusement parks. So what are career stoners to do with temperatures rapidly descending? The Pink Floyd Laser Show at the Uptown Theater (3700 Broadway) at 8 p.m. Friday is the answer to their slurred prayers.Scored by the soundtrack to thousands of conversations with God, the Laser Show projects multicolored beams of light onto a giant screen. The whole thing is choreographed to Pink Floyd's treatment of subjects ranging from walls to mothers to money. Opportunities to see the band and its inflatable pig are virtually nonexistent, so the $23 ticket for this event is a small price to pay. For information, call 816-753-8665.-- Christopher Sebela