Accompanied on this extensive tour by his Farewell Party Band - a six-piece, boasting a superb line up of drums, keyboards and fiddle, plus steel, lead and bass guitars - Gene Watson's excellent show kicked off highlighting the considerable talents of Nashville-based Clinton Gregory, from Virginia, who proved to be a great addition to the band since its last tour here.
When Watson appeared, he was met with warm and rapturous applause from the sell-out crowd and wasted no time in working his way through many hits from his 33-year career.
Old favourites like Where Love Begins, Paper Rosie, Nothing Sure Looked Good On You and more up-tempo songs like his 1982 chart-topper, Fourteen Carat Mind naturally stood out both for their musicianship and nostalgic qualities.
The 63-year-old singer and his musicians were very natural on stage and displayed great camaraderie and a fun attitude with lots of banter between Watson and individual members.
In addition to his own material, there were also musical nods to Lefty Frizzeland Marty Robbins, while his new version of Merle Haggard's Today I Started Loving You Again went down well.
This song is on his current album, In A Perfect World, and when he sang the title track from the album, it was clear that the Watson magic is still there.
For someone who has been cleared of cancer in recent years, it is inspiring to see Watson so at ease with life and enjoying what he does so well. He is also someone who can laugh at life and at himself, as demonstrated when he jokingly quipped about his pending birthday, "It is not age, but miles that made this face look like it has worn out about five bodies!"
Although the biggest cheer was reserved for his classic, Farewell Party, his encore choice, Memories To Burn, was appropriate for a man who has still got talent to burn.
- Gene Watson is appearing at Cookstown's Burnavon Theatre (tonight), Enniskillen's Ardhowen Theatre (Wed & Thur), Armagh's Market Place Theatre (Fri), St Joseph's Hall, Omagh (Sat), Coleraine's Riverside Theatre (Mon) and Ballymena's Tullyglass House Hotel (Oct 17).