Big news in our downtown neighborhood: Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater has now opened! Bill and I were at Willie Nelson’s inaugural concert there on Sunday evening. Wow…this theater is spectacular! The sound was perfect. The theater seats almost 3000 but some sections can be blocked off to create a more intimate space for tapings of the PBS Austin City Limits series.
The adjacent W hotel dressed up to honor Willie’s trademark red bandana and braids. He still wears the red bandana (actually two during this show, which he tossed into the audience) but he cut off the braids a few years back.
Moody Theater has three levels. Bill and I were on the Floor level; there is also a small Mezzanine and a fairly large Balcony. All seats are said to be within 75 feet of the stage. Our floor-level chairs (with cup holders) were comfortable and had clear views of the stage … except for the guy with the cowboy hat in front of me. But this is a known risk when seeing a Willie Nelson concert in Texas.
Willie was backed by a small orchestra for the first 45 minutes of the show. This part was good, but not great. The orchestra sounded wonderful in the space but the songs seemed a little slow and monotonous after a while. Willie gave the conductor a huge smile at the end of each song. I thought he was enjoying himself but our local paper seemed to think that he was relieved when each song was over.
After intermission, just Willie and his band took the stage. (I assume the Texas flag was helpful for those who didn’t have cowboy hats nearby to remind them of their location.) Willie seemed back in his element again and played one hit song after another for the next 90 minutes. What a great concert … and oh, did I mention that the Moody Theater is amazing too??