Kenny Rogers jokes with the crowd about how he ended up at the 2012 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The country music legend, celebrating 50 years in music, performed for the first time at the four-day festival known for its young demographics and carefree atmosphere.
Rogers promised the crowd that he'd play all of his hits and mostly kept to that bargain. He reached into his bag of 23 number one singles and delighted a smaller crowd with hits like Coward of the Country, Islands in the Stream, She Believes in Me, and of course, The Gambler.
Rogers was relaxed and truly enjoyed himself playing a 75-minute set at Bonnaroo. He joked with fans in the crowd about their poor singing capabilities -- They sang it better in Quebec -- and even made fun of himself for lyrics used in an old First Edition song entitled Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).
It was refreshing to see a performer with such an accomplished career still really enjoying playing his big hits and interacting with his fans. It played extremely well with the diverse crowd of old-time Rogers fans and some fans potentially listening to the majority of his music for the first time.
Fans truly enjoyed themselves during his afternoon set on Sunday, which is all that Rogers intended to accomplish. Before the performance he said that he'd find a way to appeal to the young concertgoers with his music.
I think the good thing is a lot of parents played my music for their children when they were young, Rogers told the International Business Times.
And if they didn't, you adjust. When I get over to Bonnaroo, the trick is to do some things that the kids will know -- some of my hits -- and then do some other songs that they'd like.
He certainly managed to accomplish that when he invited Lionel Richie, a longtime friend of his, to perform with him. The two shared a duet of Lady before Richie took center stage with a rendition of All Night Long.
It was the perfect cap to a performance billed by Billboard as one of the 10 best of Bonnaroo, but Rogers wasn't done yet. He played the role of guest performer later on in the night when he joined headliner Phish to perform his massive hit The Gambler to the huge audience.
Rogers came into the festival with the perfect mindset and turned in a performance of the ages. He's certainly had more than a fair share of thrilling performances over the course of his career, but the 73-year-old legend seems to relish them even more now.
One of the best pieces of advice my mom ever gave me was to be happy where you are, otherwise you won't be happy, he said. But I strive to get better, I strive to improve. I strive to morph into something different.
I'm thrilled with where I am in my life.