Kris Kristofferson/ Star Tribune photos by Marlin Levison

It didn’t start too auspiciously with Kris Kristofferson walking onstage a minute early Wednesday at the State Theatre and then telling the light operator to turn off the houselights.

In the end, Merle Haggard and his special guest, Kristofferson, worked their magic, with Hag’s current incarnation of the Strangers. The group features a mix of older and newer players, including Hag’s son Binion on lead guitar. Frankly, I thought he rushed too many of his solos, which became more apparent when Dad followed with a guitar solo where the notes lingered just right and the emotion was perfect. Binion did execute a sweet, slow solo at the end of “A Moment of Forever,” which earned him a gesture of praise from pop.

As always, Hag conducted the Strangers, signaling with a nod or an extended who should take a solo.

If you read my review, I did make a mistake. Sorry. Kristofferson did perform “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”

Here is Wednesday’ set list:

Shipwrecked in the Eighties (KK)/ Ramblin Fever (MH) / Silver Wings (MH)/ Mama Tried (MH)/ Me and Bobby McGee (KK)/ Here Comes that Rainbow Again (KK)/ Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star (MH)/I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink (MH)/ Help Me Make It Through the Night (KK)/ The Promise (KK)/ Rolling with the Flow (MH)/ Working Man’s Blues (MH)/ If Could Only Fly (MH)/ Folsom Prison Blues (MH)/ ??? (KK)/ Sing Me Back Home (KK but it’s MH song)/ They’re Tearing the Labor Camps Down (MH)/ That’s the Way Love Goes (MH)/ Are the Good Times Really Over (MH)/ Pilgrim Chapter 33 (KK)/ From Here to Forever (KK)/ Pancho and Lefty (duet)/ Working in Tennessee (MH)/ Take Me Back to Tulsa (MH)/ Sunday Morning Comin Down (KK)/ A Moment of Forever (MH but it’s a KK song)/ Okie from Muskogee (MH)

Merle Haggard