So last night I went to see Lyle Lovett with a friend at the Wolf Trap Filene Center in Vienna, VA. The night was perfect. Virginia has some really craptastic weather, as evidenced by the last week in which we endured both an earthquake and a hurricane. But last night the weather was awesome -- around 70-75 degrees, hardly any humidity at all, and the sky was relatively cloud-free so the stars could shine through. A perfect night for hearing perfect music.
I've seen Lyle many a time now. I go to Wolf Trap every time he comes here and have done so for the last 7 or 8 years or so. There was a time when his long time backup singer Francine Reed (she really needs a better website) accompanied him for every tour. Then she got a regular gig and didn't join him for a few years. While Lyle (and his large band) are awesome, Lyle (and his large band) and Francine are something special. She adds that little extra something that just knocks the show out of the park and I really missed her presence. So you can only imagine my excitement when she walked on stage with Lyle last night. I got all bouncy and shook my friend's arm while simultaneously pointing at the stage yelling (above the applause) "look its Francine! She's back!" When my friend, who loves Francine as much as I, saw her, we both last it and I must admit I'm a little hoarse from yelling and clapping and screaming and applauding.
I wish I'd had enough presence of mind to write down the set list but, well, I didn't. So there. He performed "I will rise up" which is always more better live than it is on the recording. Don't get me wrong -- the recording is a fine thing. But the gospel-ness just kind of hits you at your core during the live show and you'd swear singer Sweet Pea Atkinson was there to deliver the power of the Lord. There was the chicken-clucking song at some point which was amusing for having the entirety of the vocal back-up core (Francine Reed, "Sweet Pea" Atkinson, Jason Eskridge and Willie Greene Jr.) a-clacking and a-clucking near the end. Lyle belted out a rousing rendition of the Tammy Wynette classic "Stand By Your Man".
The group did the acoustic bluegrass miniset which has come to be a standard at all Lyle WolfTrap concerts and performed Keep it in Your Pantry, Up in Indiana, and some other song that I don't remember because, as mentioned earlier, I was lame and didn't write down the setlist. At the end of "Indiana" the full band reappeared on strage (magically!) (ok really they walked) for a full-out jam.
Francine belted out "Wild Women Never Get the Blues" as she always does when she's with him and every time I hear its like I'm hearing it for the first time. And of course the crowd was on its feet because really, how can you resist this?
After Francine they came back out and did, I think, "Church" (yet another song about food -- I hadn't realized until last night how many of his songs are either about food or have food in them) and... gah I am cursing my lack of writing this down and my bad middle-aged memory. Well they did Church and it was rousing and wonderful -- how could it be anything other as its such a marvelous song. They ended the evening with "You Can't Resist It" -- the long version that they lo so many years ago on Austin City Limits. And I love the song and love this version except for the weirdness by cello during all the instrumental solos. I am not sure why the cello has to be teh weird -- there's an acoustic guitar solo and its awesome, then there's a violin solo and its awesome, and then there's a cello solo which is completely weird -- if I were a more of a musician than I am I suppose I would think that it was awesome but I'm not so I just think its weird.
As a parting gift the ensemble sang the old folk standard "Goodnight Irene" to us. It got a chuckle out of the crowd before we all settled into the wonderful familiar tune. The band got two well-deserved standing ovations from the audience. This amazing evening and my catalogue of Lyle tunes will have to sustain me until 2012 -- when Lyle and his Large Band return to Northern Virginia at the Birchmere (I know this because Lyle mentioned that he would be coming to the Birchmere this winter).