Sunday, June 05, 2011

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

(Photo from here.)

Last night I had the rare treat of seeing Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt in concert at Green Valley Ranch. The tickets were free, thanks to my House Seats subscription. To be honest, I had somehow never heard of Hiatt, though I did recognize one of the songs he played--the lovely "Have a Little Faith in Me"--maybe from a movie or TV show somewhere. (Now that I'm looking it up, I see that it has been covered by Delbert McClinton and was sung by Jewell in the movie Phenomenon, so I've probably heard it from both sources.) Looking over the basic facts of his career now, I find it remarkable that I had somehow overlooked him.

Lovett, though, I had not overlooked. I have several of his CDs and like them a lot. I enjoy his quirky voice, quirky lyrics ("And if I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean/And if I had a pony, I'd ride him on my boat"), and quirky synthesis of country, jazz, and blues traditions.

The concert is pure simplicity: Two men, each equipped with a guitar, a microphone, and a chair. That's it. They've been doing these joint recitals for years, and they work splendidly together, with distinct but highly complementary styles. They take turns performing, with a little light banter between songs. Each occasionally does a little backup vocal or guitar, but mostly sit back and yield the stage to the other. It seemed clear that they didn't have a set order of pieces, but played whatever came to mind, triggered by a theme or idea in the other's previous song.

Because the tickets became available only on very short notice, I put out an offer on Twitter to give away the extra one. Good move, me. The call was answered by one "CoolDave88," who turns out to be a reader, a fellow grinder, somebody who had shared the final table of a HORSE tournament with me, and an all-around enjoyable person to get to know. He was a Hiatt fan but had not listened to any of Lovett's stuff, so we came at the concert from opposite perspectives. We each left feeling glad to have been introduced to another interesting artist worth exploring.

The music was marred only by our seats being surrounded by people who seemed to think that we came to listen to them rather than to the performers. They chatted away freely, as if watching television in their living rooms, and sometimes sung along to let everybody else see that they knew the lyrics. It's so annoying how self-absorbed and inconsiderate people can be. A couple of rows back, two guys actually got in a fight over something or other and got hauled out by security.

Also, on our way in, security confiscated the bottle of water I had started drinking while playing in the poker room before heading downstairs to the concert venue. They said that no outside drinks were allowed. I pointed out that this wasn't an "outside" drink, it was a Green Valley Ranch water bottle, given to me just a few minutes earlier by a Green Valley Ranch employee. They were not moved, so I handed it over. I really wanted to ask the goon, "Do you feel good about spending your life harassing people on the enforcement of such idiotic policies?" But I bit my tongue. A stupid bottle of water that I had been given at no cost wasn't worth a confrontation.

Those minor irritations aside, it was a far more pleasant way to spend a couple of hours than sitting at a poker table. If Lovett and Hiatt's show passes your way, you might want to give them a try.


CrabblerK3 said...

They're playing at the Meyerson here in Dallas at the end of the month. I can't wait.

TheMole said...

Saw them in good old Akron ohio earlier this year. Great commeraderie between them.
Thanks for the great blog. Been reading for a few years noe.

Anonymous said...

People are unbeleiveable at concerts today. We were at Cher last year and the same thing was going on, the people behind thought they were sitting in a bar. When I turned around and asked then to be quiet or go out in the lobby 5 of the 6 were ok about it. After it seemed settled the drunkest woman grabbed my shoulder, when I turned she starts sticking her finger in my face yelling I had "crossed the line". Luckily my wife grabbed me as I started to stand up and the group behind us decided it was a good time to leave. People buy a ticket and think they can do whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great show - both artists are fantastic. I've had the pleasure of seeing Lyle Lovett with his large band but never John Hiatt. The fact that you got both on the same stage makes me a bit green with envy.

I'm constantly amazed by the lack of civility at concerts. At a recent show the group seated behind us talked constantly through the opening act (Ryan Bingham), including frequent complaints that they had paid to see the headliner (The Flatlanders) and didn't appreciate having to sit through a set by "some nobody we've never heard of." The about three songs into the Flatlanders performance they said, "Damnit, we've heard all these songs a million times before" and left!


John G. Hartness said...

Recently saw Lyle at MerleFest, and saw Hiatt some years ago in a similar solo acoustic setting. Two of my favorite songwriters in one place might be more than I could stand!