Photo Credit: Larson Sutton

As co-headliner of the Palomino Festival, Willie Nelson served as the symbolic centerpiece of the inaugural one-day event in Brookside Park adjacent to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. With a 50-minute performance that kicked off precisely at sundown–ahead of both Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s slot and Kacey Musgraves’ finale–Nelson and his six-piece Family band took over the Pancho Stage with a set of familiar classics, including “Whiskey River,” “Always on My Mind” and “Mamma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” The Country Music Hall of Famer also offered “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die,” a tune co-written by Chris Stapleton, off of Nelson’s latest, A Beautiful Time; by Nelson’s count, his 98th album, it was released in April on his 89th birthday.

Sons Lukas and Micah, as well, shared vocal duties with their legendary father; Lukas leading a rendition of “Texas Flood,” and Micah delivering his own, Willie-inspired “If I Die When I’m High I’ll Be Halfway to Heaven.” Nelson and his sextet also covered Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe,” and welcomed Old Crow Medicine Show for a rousing, set-closing nod to Mac Davis’ “It’s Hard to Be Humble.” Absent from Nelson’s evening was perhaps his most famous song, “On the Road Again.” Instead, Nelson joined Musgraves during her festival-closing appearance for a surprise duet performance of that iconic hit.

Nelson’s stop at Palomino Festival precedes the second leg of his own flagship summer event–the Outlaw Music Festival–resuming on July 29 in Cleveland with guests ZZ Top, Gov’t Mule, Larkin Poe and Particle Kid.